Senate, House Anticipate Redistricting Standoff

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(Host) The Vermont House and Senate are apparently on a collision course concerning the reapportionment of the Legislature this session.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Traditionally when the Legislature goes through the process of reapportionment, the House and the Senate have had a “hands-off” approach for the other chamber’s redistricting map. But this year things are very different. This session is the first time that reapportionment has taken place with the Republicans in control of the House and the Democrats in the majority in the Senate.

After two days of highly partisan debate, the House this week gave its approval to a new legislative map that the Democrats argue is stacked against them. Now the bill goes over to the Senate and Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin has vowed to correct what he feels are the abuses of the House plan:

(Shumlin) “I think it’s really unfortunate they’re pitting incumbents against incumbents and clearly they’ve made a valiant effort to insure that the Republican Party controls the House for many, many years to come. The Senate is going to look very carefully at the plan and I suspect we’ll have a recommendation that we hope will more accurately reflect the work of the bipartisan board that came up with the initial plan.”

(Kinzel) But if the Senate decides to redraw some of the House districts, House Majority Leader John LaBarge says the House will respond and redraw the Senate map:

(LaBarge) “Oh absolutely, absolutely. If they are going to do that, we’re going to look at the Chittenden County Senate district which we think is highly illegal, has a six-member district for the Senate, has never held up in any court across the nation. So we’re obviously going to take a look at that. So if it goes to court, what’s going to happen is we’re going to end up with the districts we have for the next election, which isn’t bad for Republicans either.”

(Kinzel) A special Senate reapportionment committee is expected to review the House districts next week.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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