In this year’s legislative session, Governor Larry Hogan’s Redistricting Reform Act (HB 385) was killed in Committee. The bill would have ended gerrymandering practices in the state by establishing a nonpartisan independent redistricting commission.
It was voted down 18-5 along party lines in the House’s Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.
In an act of sheer dishonesty, Maryland Democrats passed the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission (SB 1023). This bill would establish a nonpartisan redistricting process only if five other surrounding states (New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina) enact similar measures. These measures must be enacted by 2032. The original drafting of the bill sought to have the measures enacted by 2020 before it was amended.
This bill likely guarantees that no meaningful reform will ever take place with regards to nonpartisan redistricting. Meanwhile, progressives tout their supposed willingness to establish proper redistricting. Governor Hogan vetoed this legislation calling it a “phony” reform measure.
In a joint statement, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, said Hogan’s veto “reveals that, instead of supporting a true, nonpartisan solution that could restore accountability and cooperation to Washington, Governor Hogan prefers his plan to simply elect more Republicans to Congress.”
Both President Miller and Speaker Busch were ordered by a federal district court judge to give depositions and turn over documents in a federal lawsuit challenging the redistricting of Maryland in 2011. Both have cited “legislative privilege” as basis for withholding documents in an appeal.
Former Governor Martin O’Malley recently changed course on the issue despite heavily gerrymandering in 2010. In a speech at Boston College, O’Malley said that gerrymandering “digs ideological trenches around incumbents.” The former governor also said, “We must, on a state-by-state basis, push for an end to gerrymandered congressional districts.”
Marylanders should be choosing their elected representatives, not the other way around.