This week Speaker Kirk Cox scheduled the House of Delegates to reconvene on Oct. 21 to vote on a new redistricting plan. Governor Ralph Northam promised to veto the plan as it is now. So Cox caved.
Canceling the session practically puts the task of redistricting into the federal courts where Obama appointed judges will draw new lines. With the already razor thin majority for Republicans of just one seat, the courts are likely to draw favorable lines for Democrats that will give Democrats majority control after the November 2019 elections. Cox must not want to be Speaker anymore.
Cox cited Northam’s promise to veto the plan as reason to cancel the session, which is a poor choice. There is still time to hammer out a plan and holding a session will get everyone on a recorded vote on the plan. It would also force the Governor to veto it. Or a new plan could be adopted. All of those things could help Republicans come campaign season. Canceling the session would stop all of that. At least put up a fight.
From The Virginian-Pilot–
In a news release, Cox said progress was being made toward a bipartisan redistricting solution before Northam’s announcement.
“I do not think we should waste legislator’s (sic) time or taxpayer money on a session when the governor’s mind is evidently made up,” he said.
Jones’ map, which he submitted Sept. 26, affected 32 districts. Jones said the map was drawn without any racial data and had support from some Democrats.
Lawmakers were given until Oct. 30 to find a legislative fix for the 11 unconstitutional districts.
After Oct. 30, the power to draw the map shifts to the federal courts, who will appoint an independent person for the task.
The last time our legislature failed at producing a redistricting plan the result was Republicans lost the 4th Congressional District. Now it looks like Republicans will lose the House of Delegates.
But there is still time. Nothing is final until after the Oct. 30 deadline. And even then there may be some court appeals that could work out. But don’t bet on it. As it stands now, Democrats (the minority party) are winning the redistricting battle.