Senate Democrats Release Proposed Redistricting Plan

Today the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate unveiled its plan to redraw Virginia’s Senate legislative district lines.
The redistricting plan, submitted Tuesday afternoon to the General Assembly’s Division of Legislative Services, is expected to be considered during the week of April 4.   The plan can be found at http://redistricting.dls.virginia.gov/2010/
 
Because of elections this year (unlike most states, which will hold elections in 2012), the redistricting timetable is short.  It has been only one month since Virginia received corrected census numbers.  The timetable is even further constrained in Virginia, which must submit its plans to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.
In addition to time constraints, lawmakers have to take into consideration a number of legal guidelines and other factors.  These include, but are not limited to, “one person, one vote” requirements under the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions; the Voting Rights Act; and the contiguity and compactness requirements under the Virginia Constitution.
Dramatic shifts in Virginia’s population required changes in district lines. Some districts, including Senate Districts 29 and 33, were grossly overpopulated.  Others were significantly under populated.
Senate Democrats said that although time constraints have made the redistricting process very challenging, they believe their plan fully complies with all applicable federal and state legal requirements.  In addition, they noted that a number of the districts under the proposed map will be politically competitive for Republicans and Democrats.  For example, under the Senate plan released today, 28 of the 40 Senate districts were carried by Governor Bob McDonnell, and 23 of the 40 districts were carried by Governor Tim Kaine. 
 “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time,” said Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax.  
”For years, the Senate has repeatedly passed legislation designed to bring about redistricting in a fair and non-partisan manner,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mary Margaret Whipple.
Senator Whipple added “That is why we’ve passed legislation, for the last four years, to establish a bipartisan redistricting commission to oversee the redistricting process.”  
 
House Republicans killed the Senate’s bipartisan redistricting commission legislation each year.  For the last two years, Senate leaders have urged Gov. McDonnell to encourage the House to support the legislation, but the Governor has not answered that call.
Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Chair Janet Howell, D-Reston said, “we have sought public input.  Hearings were held last year around the commonwealth and more are scheduled over the next week.  We value the public’s participation in those hearings.”    
Eight public hearings on redistricting are scheduled across the commonwealth before the General Assembly convenes on April 4.  Senate and House committees will hold these hearings at the following locations:
 
Thursday, March 31 
7 p.m.
Hampton University, 
Student Center Ballroom, 
135 Marshall Avenue, Hampton, VA 23668 
 
7:30 p.m.
Loudoun County Government Center, 
Loudon County Board Room,
1 Harrison Street, S.E., Fifth Floor 
Leesburg, VA 20177 
 
7:30 p.m.
Roanoke Higher Education Center, 
108 North Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA 24016 
 
Saturday, April 2
10 a.m.
Augusta County Government Center
Board of Supervisors Meeting Room
18 Government Center Lane
Verona, VA 24482 
 
10:30 a.m.
Fairfax County Government Center
Board of Supervisors Auditorium
12000 Government Center
Fairfax, VA 22035 
 
2 p.m.
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, 
Classrooms 103-104, 
One Partnership Circle, Abingdon, VA 24210 
 
7 p.m.
Regional Center for Advanced Technology and Training 
121 Slayton Avenue
Danville, VA 24540 
 
Monday, April 4 
10 a.m.
General Assembly Building
House Room D
Get Email Updates
From Facebook

For the times they are a-changin': "Many Virginia incumbents go years without challengers, and as districts have become more polarized, Democrats have sometimes struggled to field challengers…