Legislature

The legislature plans a special session on redistribution, vetoes

By ALLISON MOLLENKAMP
Capital Information Service

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – The Maryland General Assembly plans to meet on Monday for a special session to focus on congressional redistribution and priority vetoes for the 2021 session.

The Maryland Congressional redistricting process will come to a head next week when both houses of the Legislature consider congressional maps proposed by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission and Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission.

The House Rules and Executive Appointments Committee is scheduled to hold a joint hearing on Monday at 12:30 p.m. with the Senate Reallocation and Redistribution Committee.

Senate Speaker Bill Ferguson D-Baltimore announced the members of the redistribution and redistribution committee on Wednesday; Senate Majority Leader Nancy King D-Montgomery will chair the committee.

Gov. Larry Hogan, R, created the Citizens’ Commission, which featured a balanced makeup of political parties, earlier this year.

This commission submitted to Hogan a congressional map that has very different boundaries than the current map, adopted in 2011 following the 2010 U.S. Census.

The Legislative Committee, which like the Legislature had a Democratic majority, recommended a map that would include part of Anne Arundel County in District 1 of the Eastern Shore.

This district is currently Maryland’s only congressional seat, of eight, held by a Republican. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state about 2-1.

Senator Clarence Lam, from D-Howard and Baltimore counties, said he expects support for the cards to be affected by divisions and national political pressures.

“I think, unfortunately, it’s pretty likely that these cards will break down along party lines. “

The State House of Delegates and Senate will need to pass a congressional map, which would then be submitted to Hogan for approval.

Of the. Jason Buckel, R-Allegany, said he thought the Citizens’ Commission card was “really a really good card.”

“It very accurately reflects the populations and regions that have commonalities across the state,” Buckel said in a phone interview with Capital News Service.

Buckel served on the legislative redistribution commission.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Hogan said he had met Ferguson and talked about redistribution.

“I think their intention is to continue doing some of the worst gerrymandering in the country, and we’re trying to convince them that it doesn’t make sense,” Hogan said.

Although there are disagreements over which state holds the most gerrymandered title, the 2011 map of Maryland has gone all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where justices said partisan gerrymandering does is not a problem for federal courts.

Maryland law gives six days while the legislature is in session, except Sunday, to approve or veto cards; if Hogan doesn’t sign or veto a card, it will become law.

Senator Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George, has said he expects the legislature to remain in session to potentially override a veto on the cards of Congress.

Monday’s joint hearing is expected to include time for public testimony.

Members of the public can register to testify until 6 p.m. Friday.

Pinsky said he does not yet know how many people will register to testify, but he does not expect people who register on time to be excluded.

He said he expects time limits to be placed on testimony.

Waivers of the veto will be a second objective of the extraordinary session; the legislature could vote to overturn vetoes on more than 20 bills.

Most bills have passed with more than three-fifths of the two chambers needed for a waiver.

One, a bill to repeal the ban on using or intending to use drug paraphernalia, passed with one vote less in the Senate than the number needed to override.

Lam said he believed the vote on the paraphernalia bill could be near.

“You would need all of those votes to hold up and maybe even some,” Lam said.

He said the party was in the process of determining the level of support for the veto waivers.

“We don’t bring up votes unless we generally feel the votes are there,” Lam said.

Other possible exemptions from the veto include a bill relating to the detention of immigrants and another relating to parole eligibility for those sentenced to life in prison.

Buckel called Hogan’s veto reasoning “very clever, well-reasoned reasons.”

He also added that he viewed some of the criminal justice and public safety bills as “blatant” and “off the wall.”

Pinsky said there could be a few waivers tabled because the Democratic majority does not have the votes for a waiver.
“Most of them will be canceled pretty solidly,” Pinsky said. He also said: “We just don’t agree with the governor on the policy.”
At his press conference on Wednesday, Hogan described his veto as in line with public opinion and said he had spoken to Ferguson about the possibility of waivers.

“I tried to explain to him that they would be making a mistake by going against the overwhelming will of the voters… I’m not sure I convinced him on all of them,” Hogan said.

In addition to redistributions and exemptions, the legislature should select a new state treasurer.

Pinsky said the treasurer portion of the special session should be “fairly pro forma”.

The Special Joint Legislative Committee to select the state treasurer voted 10-0 to recommend Del. Dereck Davis, D-Prince George’s, for the position of Treasurer.

The extraordinary session is due to start Monday at 10 a.m.


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