New congressional redistricting plan unveiled in Maryland Senate, hearing set for early Tuesday

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Legislative leaders unveiled a redrawn congressional map with consequential changes to each district Monday evening.

The map, which more closely adheres to county lines and no longer includes a 1st District that crosses over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, was introduced in the Maryland Senate on Monday evening. The scramble to redraw a map came after a judge last Friday said the General Assembly’s original proposal was an “extreme partisan gerrymander” and ordered the map redrawn by Wednesday.

Democrats in the Maryland Senate moved on Monday to introduce a new congressional district map after a judge threw out the state’s prior redistricting plan on Friday. Screenshot.

In the new proposal, which will be considered in a joint legislative hearing Tuesday morning, the 1st District no longer crosses into Anne Arundel County and instead includes all of Harford County and portions of Baltimore County with the Eastern Shore. That district is currently represented by Maryland’s lone congressional Republican, U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, and the map passed by lawmakers during a special session in December would have made the district more competitive for Democrats.

Other changes in the new redistricting proposal:

  • Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s 2nd District extends from Carroll County into Baltimore County around I-695 in the proposed map to include Randallstown and Pikesville, and moves south from Towson into northern Baltimore City. The 2nd District did the opposite in the previous map, including southeastern Baltimore City with parts of northern Anne Arundel County along with Dundalk, Rosedale, Parkville and Cockeysville in Baltimore County.
  • The 3rd District, represented by Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D), which previously snaked north from Howard County to include northern portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, would now move into Anne Arundel County to include Glen Burnie and Annapolis.
  • The 4th District, which will have an open seat in the upcoming election after Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) announced an attorney general bid, would be almost entirely contained within Prince George’s County along with the area around Burtonsville in Montgomery County.
  • College Park would no longer be part of Democratic House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer’s 5th District, which shifts to include southern Anne Arundel County up to Edgewater and then moves north to Fort Meade.
  • The 6th District, represented by Rep. David J. Trone (D), includes all of Frederick County with Western Maryland, potentially becoming more competitive for Republicans. The 6th District previously included areas as far south as Rockville and Potomac — where Trone lives — but would now end just after Gaithersburg.
  • Baltimore City is now almost entirely contained within the 7th District, represented by Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D), along with parts of western Baltimore County including Lochearn, Woodlawn and Arbutus as well as the county’s southeastern peninsula around Dundalk.
  • The 8th District, represented by Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D), is contained within Montgomery County in the redrawn map, and includes areas north of Olney with Rockville, Silver Spring and Bethesda. As previously drawn, the district would’ve spread far north to include Carroll and parts of Frederick counties.

Members of Congress are required to live in the state they represent, but are not required to live within their district boundaries. Trone previously lived outside of the 6th District boundary, which would move farther north away from his home under the new plan, and Harris’ Cockeysville home appears to be located in the newly proposed 2nd District.

The plan is on a fast-track to pass through the Democratically controlled General Assembly within a couple of days to meet the Wednesday deadline set by Senior Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, who tossed the previous plan after a trial in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Senate Minority Whip Justin D. Ready (R-Carroll) objected to suspending legislative rules to allow for the introduction of the congressional redistricting plan so late in the session, and said Republicans hadn’t been included in the court-ordered redraw.

“We’re discussing introducing a map that nobody has seen except for a few people,” Ready said. “The minority party was not involved in the creation of these updated maps.”

His effort was unsuccessful and the rule was suspended by a vote of 32-12.

The Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting and the House Rules and Executive Nominations committees are set to have a joint sponsor-only hearing on the redrawn map at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The sign-up window for testimony opened around 8:30 p.m. Monday and is expected to remain open until 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

According to legislative leaders, the passage of the new map will be conditional on the outcome of an appeal of Battaglia’s decision.

On Friday, she issued a lengthy memorandum opinion and order concluding that the Maryland General Assembly should apply principals of compactness and contiguity that the Maryland Constitution requires for legislative districts to congressional districts as well.

“The legislation is contingent on the loss of an appeal and is expected to be on the Governor’s desk this week. However, we worked expeditiously to ensure that the redistricting process was not further delayed and that the map presented reflects the new requirements as set forth by Judge Battaglia,” House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said in a joint statement Monday.

In a letter to Jones on Monday, Republican legislative leaders called for the adoption of the congressional plan drawn up by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, a panel convened by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). That panel included three Republicans, three Democrats and three unaffiliated voters, and its congressional plan received high marks from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project for compactness and partisan fairness.

“Should the General Assembly decide to reject the Citizen’s Map and again create its own map, it is critical that this map be drawn with the utmost transparency,” House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) and Minority Whip Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll) wrote. “Members of the Minority Party must present during its creation — not just handed a map of unknown origin after it is drawn.”

The map struck down by Battaglia was originally drafted by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, a panel convened by Jones and Ferguson. Jones and Ferguson were both members of that commission, alongside two other Democratic legislative leaders and two Republican legislative leaders.

Battaglia, a former Court of Appeals judge, also found that the map violates Articles 7, 24 and 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Those provisions provide that elections be “free and frequent,” for equal protection and free speech respectively.

The court challenges to local, state and congressional redistricting plans have already resulted in the Court of Appeals pushing back the primary election from June 28 to July 19.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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