NJ Politics Digest: Legislature Makes Grab For Redistricting Authority

Democratic legislative leaders are moving forward with a plan that could give them more control over how congressional districts in the state are drawn.

Phil Murphy (left) and Steve Sweeney
Phil Murphy (left) and Steve Sweeney Christian Hetrick for Observer

Redistricting is always a fraught process, but Democratic legislative leaders are moving forward with a plan that could give them more control over how congressional districts in the state are drawn.

According to a report by Politico, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin are planning to seek a vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would change how New Jersey draws its electoral map.

The current process calls for the 13-member panel to include six members appointed by state Democrats, six by Republicans and one tie-breaking vote appointed by the state Supreme Court.

Under the proposed plan, each party would get two appointments. The Senate president, Assembly speaker and minority leaders in both houses would get two picks each. The plan would also require legislative district maps to reflect a political party “performance index.”

Republicans say the plan is a no-go, predicting there would be bi-partisan opposition to the measure.

While gerrymandering has long been an issue, a statistical analysis by the Associated Press based on 2016 election data found that more states had Republican-favored districts than Democratic ones. North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Republicans fully controlled redistricting after the 2010 Census, had some of the largest GOP congressional advantages.

Quote of the day: “My message to everybody is we have to do better, we must do better and we will do better,” — Gov Phil Murphy, after a snowstorm left thousands of New Jersey commuters and school children trapped on snowy roads last week while he and other state and municipal officials attended an Atlantic City conference.

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