By Michael Malone | Delegate, District 33
Rorschach blots have been developed 100 years in the past to check for psychological sickness, schizophrenia specifically, and way back have been supplanted by more practical assessments. They reside on, sadly, because the picture of gerrymandered congressional districts. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream even has a “Gerrymandered District or Inkblot Check” on its web site – with Maryland’s third congressional district, colloquially referred to as the “broken-winged pterodactyl,” as query primary.
Redistricting – redrawing congressional and state legislative traces – happens each 10 years to accommodate shifts in inhabitants documented by the U.S. Census. Gerrymandering is redrawing these traces for political benefit, whether or not to elect extra members of a political social gathering or shield political incumbents. Both approach, your vote issues much less.
Maryland has eight congressmen unfold throughout its 23 counties; Anne Arundel County is, within the phrases of Governor Larry Hogan, carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey amongst 4 of these eight districts. Anne Arundel is represented by Dutch Ruppersberger from Baltimore County in District 2, John Sarbanes from Baltimore County in District 3, Anthony Brown from Prince George’s County for District 4, which incorporates Severna Park, and Steny Hoyer from St. Mary’s County in District 5. In brief, decidedly two-party Anne Arundel County, Maryland’s fourth most populous county, is represented in Congress completely by Democrats from different jurisdictions. Anne Arundel County is turkey, and Republicans aren’t welcome on the desk.
In 2018, the Supreme Court docket dominated in Benisek v. Lamone, a case from Maryland in search of to bar enforcement of the gerrymandered congressional map, that redistricting reform is a matter left to the states. Subsequently, to fight gerrymandered districts in Maryland at each the state and congressional ranges, I’ve once more launched a number of payments into the Home of Delegates.
Home Invoice 339 addresses state legislative districts, and would require that redistricting maps be drawn with out regard to political affiliation or voting patterns. This language is derived from the federal district court docket opinion in Benisek v. Lamone, which had dominated that Maryland’s congressional district maps violated Marylanders’ constitutional rights. Home Invoice 1260 would require that Maryland’s congressional districts be drawn in response to the identical requirements as its legislative districts: they must be drawn compactly and with regard to pure and group boundaries. Like Home Invoice 1260, Home Invoice 410 additionally would require that Maryland’s congressional districts be drawn in response to the identical requirements as its legislative districts, but it surely provides the requirement that the traces be drawn with out regard for voting patterns and political affiliation.
All three of those payments are being heard by the Home Guidelines and Govt Nominations Committee, chaired by Democrat Anne Healey. Testimony on two of the payments – HB 339 and HB 410 – was heard on February 22; a listening to date on HB 1260 has not been scheduled. A committee vote has but to happen. If you happen to want to testify on HB 1260 or some other invoice, you have to join at www.mgaleg.maryland.gov between 8:00am and three:00pm two enterprise days prematurely of the listening to (please name my workplace at 410-841-3510 when you want help in witness sign-up). In years previous, signing as much as testify was not required, however due to COVID committee hearings, are being held just about this yr. Remember, nonetheless, that the hearings on HB 339 and HB 410 weren’t scheduled two full enterprise days earlier than the listening to, giving events just a few hours to enroll to testify.
The Common Meeting has been dragging its ft on redistricting reform, though Maryland has a number of the most gerrymandered congressional districts within the nation and is the topic of the Benisek resolution. It’s merely appalling that our legislative leaders brazenly admit in court docket proceedings to partisan redistricting aimed toward maintaining incumbents in energy and disenfranchising voters for political causes and get away with it. Different states are adopting impartial, partisan-balanced commissions much like that proposed by Governor Hogan and are adopting or expanded language like that in our state structure to limit partisan gerrymandering. Nonetheless, redistricting reform laws, whether or not proposed on my own, Governor Hogan, or others, has routinely been killed with out even being submitted to the whole Common Meeting for a vote.
Let’s finish the schizophrenia – the withdrawal from actuality – of Rorschach inkblot legislative districts. Let’s finish GerryMaryland.