State legislators from across the aisle and both ends of the statehouse are responding to Andrew Cuomo’s proposed plans for independent redistricting legislation and their reactions should surprise no one: enthusiastic cheers from those in the minority, and wait-and-see from those who have the power to redraw the lines.
Democratic Leader John L. Sampson has released a statement that supports the proposed legislation and calls on the Senate to pass the redistricting bill when it comes back into session in Albany. Westchester senator Jeff Klein, a member of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, has also spoken out in favor of the proposal.
“As one of the few members of the Legislature who has actually voted for legislation to create an Independent Redistricting commission,” said Klein in an official statement, “I commend Governor Cuomo for once again demonstrating his commitment to this much needed reform.”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos supports of the idea of redistricting reform, but isn’t sure that it should be a high priority right now. An official statement cited government spending cuts, tax reduction, and job creation as critical issues, and said that the Senate should be focusing instead on creating and instating a “fiscally responsible budget” by the April 1 deadline.
“The issue of redistricting reform is an important one and I have said repeatedly that we will act on reform legislation,” Skelos said. “A number of proposals have been advanced and we have to take a close look at what makes the most sense to ensure a fair, open and truly nonpartisan process.”
These senators are among those that signed a good government pledge with Ed Koch’s reform group New York Uprising. The organization has held up independent redistricting as one of its chief causes, and aggressively pushed lawmakers to make good on the pledge and move forward with redistricting reform.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver declined to sign Koch’s pledge, but stated that he does plan to cooperate with other legislators on reform measures.
“We are reviewing the governor’s program bill,” he said, “and remain committed to working with governor and our colleagues in the Senate to reform redistricting in time for the upcoming redistricting process.”