Last Ditch Push On Redistricting
June 1st, 2011
As word spread around the capital today of an impending announcement of a deal on ethics legislation good government groups converged on Albany to pressure legislators on a seemingly forgotten good government issue–independent redistricting. ReshapeNY, a group made up of the League of Women Voters, New York Public Interest Group and Citizen’s Union which is a sister to the Gotham Gazette, brought around 60 constituents to Albany to meet with around 40 legislators to ask them to support independent redistricting legislation proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Sen. Mike Gianaris. Both have bills would take the redistricting process out of the hands of legislators and give it to an independent body. Cuomo’s version of the bill would give him more appointments to such a body.
Gianaris addressed the crowd of lobbyists telling them that he hoped they would be back next year, “so we can celebrate.” But so far there hasn’t been much cause for celebration. Senate Republicans have bottled up both the Cuomo and Gianaris bill.
“They have refused to acknowledge the bill’s existence and the Governor’s as well,” Gianaris told the Gazette. “They have gone back on their own campaign promise and not only that but they are activley impeding the progress of the bill said they support.” Senate Republicans denied Gianaris a hearing on the legislation and the bill has not made it through the committee process. Gianaris said that, “timing is everything” and that he thinks the “reality of governor’s strength on the issue” will eventually lead to a break in the impasse.
Cuomo promised to veto any district lines drawn up by the legislature. Cuomo has not however made independent redistricting a major part of his state-wide tour.
With only nine days of session left this year, the issue of taking the redistricting process out of the hands of legislators and into an independent commission has seemingly been lost in the last minute flurry surrounding other legislation like the tax cap, ethics legislation and gay marriage. There has been some talk that the legislation could be wrapped up in a last minute deal with other issues but so far it seems only to be talk. Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, said although he had been concerned about the possibility it now seems unlikely. “This is the number 1 reform issue,” said Gianaris. “This legislation should stand on its own.”
Senate Republicans, a number of whom pledged to support independent redistricting as proposed by Cuomo and Gianaris, saying that the only way to legally change the redistricting process would be through a constitutional amendment. A constitutional amendment would take a few years to approve and it would insure that the same method for redistricting is used this year. The next redistricting would take place in 2022.By David King on June 1, 2011, 4:16 pm
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