Nov 11, 2011
NC General Assembly Week in Review: Special Edition on Redistricting Corrections
General Assembly Adjourns Special Session on Redistricting Corrections
Lawmakers convened in Raleigh this week for a one-day special session to implement technical corrections to the redistricting maps they approved earlier this year, following the U.S. Justice Department announcing the pre-clearance of the redistricting maps. The corrections were needed after a computer code error was found to have left out more than 200 small portions of the state in the new district maps. The General Assembly passed five bills making technical corrections to House, Senate, and congressional districts, as well as Wake County judicial districts, and Greene County commissioner races.
Opponents, voting against the technical corrections claimed that the legislation was unconstitutional in that the new districts were already official enacted having been pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department and the state constitution only permits legislative districts to be redrawn once every 10 years. Proponents, on the other hand argued that the legislative corrections do not “change” map boundaries or the population statistics to the districts originally approved by lawmakers and rather only corrected language in the bills arising from the software glitch.
Lawsuits were filed this week challenging the new congressional and legislative districts, with more expected to be filed in the coming weeks. The lawsuits filed, encompassing former and current state legislators, local government officials, and advocacy groups contend that the split precincts divided counties and racially gerrymandered districts, violating the state and federal constitutions. In addition to asking that the districts be thrown out, the lawsuits seek injunctions to stop the new districts from being used for election filing, primaries or general elections in 2012. Leaders of the legislative redistricting committees to reiterate this week that they believe the redistricting maps will withstand court challenges, with Sen. Rucho saying: “The fact that the Justice Department had a chance to review the maps completely, and responded that they were comfortable with our maps and they followed the letter of law, makes the arguments moot.”
What is Next? Lawmakers Set Schedule for Future Special Sessions
Before leaving town, lawmakers adopted an adjournment resolution calling for the General Assembly to reconvene for three additional special sessions: November 28th, February 16th and April 23rd. The resolution permits consideration of a wide array of issues, ranging from election laws and gambling to hurricane disaster relief. In addition, lawmakers are permitted to consider veto overrides, any bills currently in conference committees and any of the local bills pending in the House Rules committee, wherein procedure could permit the bills to be stripped of their current content and used as vehicles for other legislation.
Republican leaders said their main objective in the multiple reconvening sessions is to respond as needed to the redistricting lawsuits. Any other items for consideration will depend on how long lawmakers want to convene and whether leaders in both chambers can work out agreements on vetoed or controversial bills. Some items rumored to be in consideration during the November 28th special session include:
- Expanding Gaming Offerings (Eastern Band of Cherokees’ Casino)
- Changes to State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws
- Hurricane Irene Assistance Package for Farmers & Others
- Election Reform: Limits on Campaign Donations by Vendors with State Contracts
- Veto Overrides
North Carolina’s Off-Year Election Results
Tuesday, November 8th was Election Day in numerous communities throughout North Carolina as well as across the nation. North Carolina contains a dynamic and competitive political environment, of which is expected to play a pivotal battleground state during the 2012 elections.
Click here to review the full off-year election results for North Carolina.