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State Legislature moves quickly on redistricting to meet Wednesday deadline

Maryland redistricting saga continues in Annapolis
New Introduced Map - Color.png
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 12:05:17-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — SB1012,was introduced on the Senate floor late Monday night, was heard in committee Tuesday morning, passed its second reading after 45 minutes of debate later Tuesday morning and passed third reader early Tuesday afternoon.

It passed its third reader in the opposite chamber early Wednesday evening, after going through the same process in the House.

SB1012 is now under consideration by the Governor who has a week to make a decision.

The bill would create a new congressional map for the state after a judge declared the previously enacted map unconstitutional.

Republican lawmakers brought up a couple of issues during the debate of this bill in the Senate.

"This map, while prettier, is nothing more than lipstick on a pig," said Senator Michael Hough, a Republican who represents District 4.

"I first of all want to acknowledge that this map is far superior to the map we passed last December," said Baltimore County Republican Senator Chris West, before explaining why he felt this map was still unconstitutional.

He added, "I am going to cast a red vote, because I can't support an unconstitutional plan."

Senator Johnny Ray Salling, Republican from District 6, had more to say about the process of drawing the map.

"Not having the opportunity to participate and be a part of this, I believe it's very flawed," said Sen. Salling, adding "The people should be outraged."

The Democratic Senate President Bill Ferguson expressed his surprise that so many people voted against the plan.

"I will say, I am somewhat surprised to the see the number of red votes, because when I went back at 2 o'clock this morning to go and listen to the congressional testimony that we heard in December, many of the issues that were brought up on this very floor, concerns about that map are addressed in the map that's before us," Sen. Ferguson said in explanation of his affirmative vote.

To get a better understanding of the map, we spoke with FiveThirtyEight's senior elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich about the party lean data, and the efficiency gap.

"The efficiency gap is a statistic that attempts to measure how efficient each party is at converting votes to seats under a map," explains Rakich.

The old map had an efficiency gap of 16% in favor of Democrats, which Rakich calls "quite aggressive."

"This new map has an efficiency gap of only 2% toward Democrats, which is basically even," he says. "So, by that measure at least, this map passes the test and is a fair map."

The court will have to make a decision ultimately on the constitutionality of the map, and has a hearing set for Friday, April 1st at 9am.