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GOP-backed Bill Could Shift Va. Senate Seats

Some politicians, activist groups decry Monday proposal that could redistrict five Democratic senate 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. (See a map of the proposed redistricting in the media box to the right.)

Under the proposal, the districts of John Edwards (D-21st) Dave Marsden (D-37th), George Barker (D-39th), Chuck Colgan (D-29th) and John Miller (D-1st) would all change. 

Virginia’s legislature last redistricted House and Senate districts in 2011.

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.

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ADSinNoVA January 22, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Unconscionable, despicable act by a group who cannot win at the ballot box so they use cynical methods that degrade our democracy. This type of shameful electioneering should be rejected by all voters. Remember in November ('13 and '15).
brian kelley January 22, 2013 at 02:56 PM
ADSin Check out what O'Malley did in Maryland.It was way worse to knock out the only Republican in the state. Did you get upset at that you Moron!
ADSinNoVA January 22, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Name calling. Nice. *sigh*
Barbara Glakas January 22, 2013 at 09:14 PM
This is just so lowbrow! The Senate republicans did this without any forewarning and they didn‘t even have the common courtesy to notify the Senator (Marsh) whose district was carved up as a result of the re-districting. As a matter of a fact, they took this vote on Inauguration Day when they KNEW Senator Marsh would not be present and would not be able to vote on it, because they knew he would be at the Inauguration! This passed on a 20-19 party-line vote. Not only does redistricting typically happen only once per decade after the census, but they did this without telling the Governor and after the Lt. Gov. said that he would not support it. They tacked it onto another bill and limited debate on it. This is just sick because it is an underhanded, lowbrow tactic, which just adds to the partisan rancor. Is this the way they “legislate?” And now – to make things doubly worse – that have now created a toxic environment in the General Assembly. We need to elect more common-sense, mainstream, fair-minded representatives into our General Assembly in November!
brian kelley January 22, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Barbara, I'm sure you felt the same way about this when O'Malley did it? wink, wink http://repealomalleysmaps.com/
Manny January 22, 2013 at 09:38 PM
Republicans garnered almost 60% of the Senate votes in 2011 yet only got 50% of the seats, so I don't know what you are talking about 'not winning at the ballot box'.
Bob Bruhns January 22, 2013 at 09:48 PM
I can't stand the Republicans OR the Democrats, because of their lies and games (at our expense) - so this is just another day to me. A chilly day, as it happens, but just another day.
ADSinNoVA January 22, 2013 at 10:38 PM
The Maryland Legislature approved the redistricting maps, as did the Maryland electorate as a whole (63.6% voting in favor), all done via the normal process. A little different than changing the rules in the middle of the game because you could sneak one through because a senator was absent. That's just dirty pool, and the GOP admits it.
Another Patriotic Liberal January 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM
Well, the GOP wanted to do something special for Lee-Jackson Day. It was like giving the whole state a trans-rectal probe.
Barbara Glakas January 24, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Brian, You don't know me. These kinds of moves are lowbrow no matter who does them.
brian kelley January 24, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Barbara, I have had the misfortune of reading your far left drivel in the comments section of every political article written in local publications for years. You seem like an angry person. Relax, your guy won maybe take a break from all this for a few years. Entitlements and food stamps are at record highs...Obamacare is about to kick in...unemployment checks have been extended, taxes are raised, late term abortion is approved....what else can a far left person want that is not already out there

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