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Virginia Senate Narrowly Passes Redistricting Measure

Left-leaning organizations protest the off-cycle redistricting of Virginia Senate and House of Delegates districts.

Virginia’s State Senate narrowly passed a bill Monday night that could change the map of senate and house districts across the state.

The Senate bill, which squeezed through with a 20-19 vote, shifts the districts of five senate Democrats—three representing Northern Virginia—toward more Republican-voting areas and consequently alters the map of adjacent districts as well (See a map of the proposed redistricting in the media box to the right.).

Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st), who didn't have Falls Church in her district will have a piece of it now. Sen. George Barker (D-39th), who currently represents a large portion of western Alexandria, would see his district moved entirely into Fairfax County. Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) would then represent most of Alexandria city.

Under the proposal, the districts of John Edwards (D-21st) Dave Marsden (D-37th), Chuck Colgan (D-29th) and John Miller (D-1st) would also change. 

Virginia’s legislature last redistricted House and Senate districts in 2011. The proposed district changes would take effect in 2015. 

Republican Sen. John Watkins (R-10th) defended the bill as "an effort to create another majority black Senate district," the Associated Press reports. But Democratic leaders and liberal organizations across the state decried the bill as violating the state’s own constitution, along with a move that doesn't allow for public input or comments.

In a statement from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, Barker said, “A Circuit Court judge recently ruled that the Virginia Constitution does not allow for re-redistricting, which is what this bill would do, in order 'to preclude ‘politically convenient’ redistricting whenever one political party or the other might gain the upper hand.' This type of action is not permissible under the Constitution.”

ProgressVA officials stated, "This move is an obvious violation of the State Constitution, which clearly states that redistricting occurs every ten years. Legislators can't rewrite the rules of the game whenever they want. Voters should be choosing their leaders, not the other way around."

Monday's Senate bill makes amendments to an earlier-passed House bill (HB259). The Senate’s amendments to HB259 now goes back to the House for approval or the bills will go to conference, where members of the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate can hash out their differences.

Michael Strong January 23, 2013 at 03:24 PM
THis action is a deplorable effort by the Repbublicans to gerrymander the entire state into a perpetual Republican majority. When they dont win at the ballot box, you can count on scurrilous Republicans to cheat the rules and fix the game in their favor. This type of political gaming is what is wrong with Richmond, and the cynical guise of "creating a black voting district" is not worthy of belief, when three democratic seats are now assured to fall to the Republicans. VOice your disagreement with this effort by calling your state senators and represntatives today!
Chuck Stein January 23, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Oh come off it. This bill will undo a gerrymander by Democrats that allowed them to maintain hold of 20 of 40 Senate seats despite winning only 4 in 10 statewide Senate votes in the last election--talk about unrepresentative!--while at the same time adding minority membership to the chamber. The only ones who will lose out on this are white Democratic incumbents, for whom the districts were specially drawn so they could hang on to power (and I thought Republicans were the racists). Yes, this does have a whiff of dirty politicking, but then again this is politics, and the Dems ain't exactly pure as the driven snow.

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