Mar 02, 2011 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last month his proposal for redrawing the Legislative districts, a task that follows the U.S. census every decade.
The process typically draws criticism from one party or another, or both, and was a topic addressed in most electoral debates and conversations last fall. It’s meant to realign legislative boundaries according to changes in demographics and populations, but has in the past been used as a power grab.
Cuomo’s Redistricting Reform Act of 2011would create an “independent commission” in charge of determining which boundaries should be shifted and how far.
The commission would be a group of 11, appointed by either the majority or minority leaders of the Senate and Assembly or selected by other commission members from a pool of 40 nominees. Cuomo’s proposal must be approved by both the Senate and Assembly to be put into action.
Here’s what local state officials had to say about Cuomo’s initial proposal:
Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, 120th District:
“Federal and State law requires that the state legislatures approve redistricting plans. We look forward to reviewing the Governor’s proposal among others in the coming months. I want to give this important issue a comprehensive review before I weigh in on individual proposals at this time.”
Sen. John A. DeFrancisco, 50th District:
“In Governor Cuomo’s bill the redistricting commission will submit its first plan to the legislature. If the legislature votes ‘no’ it must take into account the objections of the legislature, and submit plan number two, which the legislature can also reject. The commission then must submit plan three, which the legislature can amend and approve as amended. In effect, the legislature can pass its own plan.
As far as the non-partisanship of the commission, half of those eligible to be on the commission are appointed by one person – the Governor. Does anyone think that whomever the Governor is, the Governor will not nominate people that will likely follow his political agenda?
In addition, the Cuomo redistricting plan makes anyone who served in the legislature, or for the Executive or was a lobbyist in the last four years ineligible to serve on the commission. This may give the appearance of the membership being non-partisan. However, does anyone believe for a moment that political people are going to be excluded by this four-year rule?
No matter how the redistricting commission is formed (whether under the Cuomo plan or earlier plans endorsed last year by Mayor Koch) it is impossible to take politics out of politics. The best assurance that redistricting will be fair is that the plan as required by the New York State Constitution must be agreed to by both houses of the legislature – and fortunately now the Senate is controlled by Upstate and Long Island Republicans and the Assembly is controlled by New York City Democrats – a cross-section of the residents of the state of New York.”
Assemblyman William Barclay, 124th District:
“I support bringing real reform to New York’s dysfunctional redistricting process and share the Governor’s goal of creating a non-partisan, independent legislative redistricting commission to help take politics out of reapportionment. The Governor’s bill is a good starting point, however, I believe changes can be made to the bill to further ensure that the commission will be truly independent. To this end, I look forward to working with the Governor and my legislative colleagues to enact independent redistricting legislation this year.”