Toscano Morning Hour Comments on Redistricting
It has been said that redistricting is the exercising of raw political power, occasionally sprinkled with doses of public input. Well, yesterday in the other body we saw raw political power in full bloom, in a process that violates our traditions in the House.
As most know, on the floor of the other body, without any notice or opportunity for public comment, a substitute for a house bill – our house bill – was introduced which dramatically alters certain districts. Our bill – sponsored by the gentleman from Spotsylvania – was called “technical adjustments’ in re-districting plan. What the Senate did, however, was anything but technical adjustments. It made fundamental changes in the redistricting lines. It put Senators into the same district. One change shifted a Senator’s district by two-thirds.
This action by the other body subverts the will of voters who elected their Senators in 2011. If this bill passes – it will come over to the House as a substitute – many citizens will have their Senator changed, not by their vote, but by ours. That is not what democracy is all about.
Unlike our House procedures, this action was rammed through with no hearings, no public discussions, and no analysis.
It is probably unconstitutional, in that the constitution requires that we re-district “in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.” But even if it is not, the ramifications of this action are far reaching for this body and for the General Assembly. And I am talking not simply about the ramifications for this session and the various challenges we face, in taking on educational reform and the Governor’s transportation plan, both of which may now be at risk as a result of this action. The action simply interjects chaos into the redistricting process. If this is allowed to stand, we can redistrict every single year. Think about that for a moment – every single year.
That is not the House of Delegates way.
That is not the Virginia way.
This body is the only group who stand in the way of a bill that has implications far beyond what has been imagined previously.
When the bill comes over from the Senate, I urge us to reject this substitute, and send a message to Virginians that we support transparency and fair play.