WatchBlog: West Virginia congressional redistricting legislation could be introduced today

By westvirginia on January 16, 2012
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By Steven Allen Adams | West Virginia Watchdog

CHARLESTON — According to published reports, we could see at least two bills with two different plans for West Virginia’s congressional districts.

The Associated Press reports that both Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley) and state Sen. Donna Boley (R-Pleasants) could both introduce redistricting legislation, since the current redistricting plan can’t be used and state officials are seeking a stay of a lower court’s opinion that said the current plan is unconstitutional.

Senator Boley sent me a draft of her plan last week, which is similar to the current plan, which only moved Mason County from the 2nd Congressional District to the 3rd Congressional District. The Boley Plan would also take part of Braxton County – l,524 voters – and move them from the 2nd district to the 3rd and take part of Lewis County – l,673 voters – from the 2nd to the 1st.

The Unger Plan is called the “More Perfect Plan,” in honor of the Perfect Plan he first crafted back in August as the framework for the original redistricting legislation before committee members amended it to reflect the Mason County flip (or flop as it’s also been called).

Unger’s original plan made the Eastern Panhandle whole again for the first time since 1991, but it would have moved Rep. Shelley Moore Capito out of the 2nd district and into Rep. David McKinley‘s 1st district. Both Captio and McKinley are Republicans. That plan would have also divided Kanawha and Harrison counties between congressional districts.

Unger’s “More Perfect Plan” splits small portions of Taylor and Randolph counties, but it keeps Capito and McKinley in separate districts and makes the Eastern Panahandle whole again. Both of Unger’s plans were virtually perfect, meaning each district were nearly equal in population. Unger gave us a copy of the More Perfect map last week, which you can see below:

It’s already been said before, but Sen. Unger says he has no plans to run for Congress, or at least right now. Since he is the No. 3 man in the Senate behind President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall) and Pro Tempore Joe Minard (D-Harrison), I’d say he’s being honest. Plus, he’s a young man and has plenty of time.

On Friday, lawyers for Kessler, House Speaker Rick Thompson (D-Wayne), Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant filed a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court of the lower court’s decision on state congressional redistricting. That three-judge federal panel ruled two weeks ago that West Virginia’s congressional redistricting plan violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause due to large variances in population between each district.

Last Tuesday they denied a stay requested by state officials, but lifted a Jan. 17 deadline to come up with a new plan.

You can read all our redistricting stories to-date here.

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Posted under Blog, Elections, Federal, Legislation, Legislature, Redistricting, State Senate, West Virginia.
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