Thursday, March 5, 2009

Republicans Call for Independent Redistricting Commission Denied

House Republicans today called for the creation of an independent commission to redraw legislative districts for members of Congress, the Legislature and the Governor’s Council. However, the effort for a more balanced and transparent process was denied by an overwhelming high number of Democrats.

“An independent redistricting commission would take the politics out of a very important process while avoiding disenfranchising any racial, ethnic or minority group,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. “I am incredibly disappointed in my colleagues who are putting their own political needs ahead of the needs of their constituents. This was an opportunity to produce real reform and regain the public’s trust. Apparently, that is not a priority of the Majority Party in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.”

The House Republicans’ proposal, which failed on a 132-23 vote, would have created a seven-member redistricting commission consisting of a dean or professor of law, political science or government from a Massachusetts institution of higher learning appointed by the Governor; a retired justice appointed by the Attorney General; and an expert in civil rights law appointed by the Secretary of State.

At least two dozen Democratic legislators previously supported the proposal prior to voting against the independent redistricting commission today.

The commission would also include four legislators, who would be selected by the three non-elected commission members from a list of nominees submitted by the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate President and Senate Minority Leader to ensure bipartisan balance on the commission.

The proposal has been endorsed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Governor Patrick, former Governor Romney as well as dozens of newspapers throughout the Commonwealth.