I’ve been absent from blogging here since the summer in order to concentrate on my duties concerning the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, the nine-member panel charged with recommending maps for Gov. Hogan to propose for redrawing Congressional and legislative lines. That job will continue for a while, but the commission has now proposed to the public all three of its maps — Congressional, state senate, and delegate — and you can check them out here or use a viewer that allows zooming down to the street level. Public comment continues for a couple more weeks and the commission will consider altering lines to reflect public reaction and comments, as it has already done in several areas.
Tag Archives: redistricting reform
I joined host Dan Sally last month at the nonpartisan You Don’t Have To Yell podcast for a discussion of gerrymandering and redistricting in Maryland and other states. You can listen here.
- Hey, I’m in the news again on gerrymander reform [WBOC, video of governor’s press conference, more information and portal to apply for citizen seats]
- Comptroller Peter Franchot urges lawmakers to “back off” Kirwan override: “They don’t know where the $4 billion…is going to come from, other than ‘maybe this’ and ‘maybe that.’ ” [Bruce DePuyt, Maryland Matters] Kirwan bill “is far more about grabbing political power than improving the quality of education.” [Sen. Bob Cassilly, Maryland Matters]
- Maryland bill would enact only-in-the-nation tax on digital advertising. General Assembly should sustain Hogan’s veto of this bad measure [Rebecca Snyder, ] Frederick News-Post
- In fatal no-knock raid shooting of Duncan Lemp, “clouded by the conflicting accounts and the lack of video evidence,” MoCo state’s attorney’s office issues report excusing police from blame [C.J. Ciaramella, Reason]
- Less latitude for bullies to file speech-deterring lawsuits: “Decision breathes some life into Maryland’s weak anti-SLAPP statute” [Paul Alan Levy]
- As if restaurants in Prince George’s County haven’t suffered enough this past year [Baylen Linnekin, Reason on nannyish children’s meal measure]
Mostly links from before the pandemic crisis hit:
- Richard Vatz: To have passed the extravagantly expensive Kirwan education bill, with the handwriting already on the wall as to the state’s looming fiscal crisis, “is revelatory of the utter irresponsibility of Maryland’s lawmakers.” [Bryan Renbaum, Maryland Reporter]
- Montgomery County SWAT team shot Duncan Socrates Lemp in his home, and questions won’t go away [Jim Bovard/American Conservative, C.J. Ciaramella/Reason]
- “Maryland Charges Big Fines for Skipping Small Tolls” [Meg Tully, Maryland Reporter]
- Happy to get a request from Pennsylvania to reprint and distribute my chapter on redistricting and gerrymandering found on pp. 293-299 of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (2017). Check it out;
- Senator Michael Hough (R-Frederick, Carroll) proposes limiting lawmakers to 20 introductions of general bills in a session [Danielle Gaines, Maryland Matters]
- Eastern Shore educators, fellow students unprepared as mental illness, violence mainstreamed into everyday classrooms [Mike Detmer, Dorchester Star, Bryan Renbaum, Maryland Reporter (Del. Kathy Szeliga, R-Baltimore and Harford, urges legislative action)]
Democratic lawmakers in Annapolis have filed a “Potomac Compact for Fair Representation” bill, HB 182, the gist of which is to say that Maryland can go on gerrymandering until Virginia agrees to coordinate on reform. Sorry to break it to you, guys, but have you noticed that the Virginia reform ship is sailing all by itself?
P.S. Kind of related: a Pennsylvania lawmaker talks frankly about how the leadership in state legislatures use the gerrymandering power, with its discretion to dole out a good district or impose a bad, to arm-twist maverick lawmakers into submission:
Boscola [Democratic state Sen. Lisa Boscola of Northampton County] said that because legislative leaders control the process, they can change the shape of districts to increase or decrease an incumbent’s chances of reelection.
Boscola, a senator for 18 years, served two terms in the House. There, she said, the threat of gerrymandering was used against her.
“I was told by my leadership in the House that I better behave and toe my party line, or I’d be out of my district,” she said.
I participated as both a speaker and a panelist in the November event “Getting It Right: Weighing the Options for Reform,” hosted by Fair Districts PA in Harrisburg. You can watch here.
- “Maryland Court of Appeals Will Hear Challenge to Baltimore’s Food Truck Rules” [Andrew Wimer, IJ press release]
- Four of eight members of Maryland House delegation (Reps. Raskin, Cummings, Sarbanes, Brown) would eliminate private health insurance [Allison Stevens, Maryland Matters]
- A view from the Left: “Why I support single-member districts” [Richard DeShay Elliott]
- Maryland legislature should address outcome of Court of Appeals case in which 16 year old girl was brought up on child pornography distribution charges for “sexting” video of herself engaged in sex that was both consensual and legal [David Post, Volokh Conspiracy]
- Ban on foam packaging “did not encourage” staying around: Dart Container closing Carroll, Harford County warehouse and distribution centers [Jon Kelvey, Carroll County Times, earlier on polystyrene bans here, here]
- Looking for an alternative to the pro-secessionist lyrics in “Maryland, My Maryland”? There’s a competing Unionist version [Todd Eberly, Free Stater last year]
I’m not in any mood to despair, as I explained to Bethesda magazine’s Dan Schere:
“I’m glad the suspense is over, because waiting is hard and not knowing what the options are is hard,” said Walter Olson, who lives in Frederick County who co-chaired the commission.
Olson, who is a fellow at the Washington-based Cato Institute think tank, said he thinks public opinion in Maryland is strong enough against gerrymandering that the state legislature will decide to follow the example of the redistricting commission.
“It is up to Annapolis, after being shamed by the whole country by how bad its gerrymander is, to change it,” he said.
Asked if he felt the commission’s effort had been in vain, Olson replied that none of the nine members felt so.
“Our process produced a map that did what the court said,” he said. “We had strong marching orders to behave like good citizens, just the opposite of how the state had behaved in the past.”
Olson added that he was encouraged by the turnout at the public hearings, particularly at the ones in Western Maryland, which featured residents who feel gerrymandering reform is overdue in the state.
“It’s hard to ask them to be patient, because they’ve been asked to be patient for a long time,” he said.
By way of clarification I should add that I didn’t hear from everyone who served on the commission, but all those I did hear from appeared glad of what we accomplished and agreed that our work had not been in vain.
… If partisan gerrymandering is a substantial evil worth fighting – and I believe it is – we should now get serious about finding that remedy through other means. The Constitution’s Elections Clause provides that “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations,” and in fact Congress has in the past prescribed to the states standards for districting. These include standards on compactness, a vital principle of good districting that all by itself would disallow many of the most garish gerrymanders by which U.S. House members reach the Capitol. Countering the gerrymandering of state legislatures is a tougher challenge, but even in states without a process for ballot initiatives it is a natural issue for reformist governors and others who run in non-districted races.
Around the country, machine politicians must be thinking they’ve got a free hand to draw maps even worse than the ones last round. We shouldn’t let them.
On Saturday I joined Jennifer Charlton and Michelle Perez Newman for “Success Happens” on WFMD along with board of education president Brad Young. (He talked about school redistricting and I talked about legislative redistricting — two completely different issues.) You can listen here. And I joined Allen Etzler and Heather Mongilio at the Frederick News-Post’s podcast series Frederick Uncut on the same topic (more).
P.S. Spot the contrast here between incoming House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones, who says she’s disappointed at the Court’s refusal to remedy gerrymandering, and Senate President Mike Miller, who sounds maybe a bit jubilant [Maryland Matters]