Legislative redistricting bills head to governor

September 24, 2011 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Legislature neared an end to its work on redistricting late Friday, but Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vowed to veto Democratic-backed plans for revamping House and Senate districts.

Republicans contend the proposed districts for the 42-member Senate and the 70-member House will hurt the party’s chances of gaining seats in future elections.

“It took 18 days for House and Senate Democrats to pass a radically partisan redistricting map that reflects no attempt to compromise, and which they know will be vetoed by the governor,” Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said after the Senate plan won final approval.

The fight over redistricting likely will go to court after the governor rejects the Democratic-backed plans.

The Legislature was poised to end its special session, which began Sept. 6.

The House is scheduled to meet Saturday to try to wrap up its work, [auth] including a congressional redistricting approved by the Senate earlier this week.

The Senate appeared ready to adjourn late Friday once it handled a measure to finance capital improvements.

The Senate redistricting measure cleared its last stop in the Legislature when it passed the House on a 36-34 mostly party-line vote. One Democrat, Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint, joined Republicans in voting against the bill.

The House redistricting plan won final approval when the Senate approved it on a 24-16 vote. One Democrat, Sen. Bernadette Sanchez of Albuquerque, opposed the bill although with Republicans.

Lawmakers on Friday also passed and sent to the governor proposals for revamping districts of the 10-member Public Education Commission and the five-member Public Regulation Commission.

“We did what we were brought here to do constitutionally. I think we worked very hard in getting the redistricting done,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said in an interview.

Lawmakers must realign districts to adjust for population changes during the past decade.

Most of the eastern side of New Mexico grew slowly or lost population while portions of the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area had explosive growth — particularly areas west of the Rio Grande and in the nearby community of Rio Rancho.

Lawmakers must expand or reduce the size of districts to equalize their populations to meet legal requirements of one person, one district.

The Democratic-backed redistricting plan will establish two new Senate districts — both favoring Republicans — on Albuquerque’s west side.

To accommodate those changes, other districts are merged. In southeastern New Mexico Republicans Rod Adair of Roswell and William Burt of Alamogordo end up in the same district. The plan also pairs Democrat Dede Feldman and Republican John Ryan in one Albuquerque district. Ryan’s district will become one of the new Albuquerque west side seats but he doesn’t live in that part of the city.

The House redistricting proposal creates a new seat in GOP-dominated Rio Rancho and a Democratic-leaning seat in the Albuquerque area west of the Rio Grande. To allow for that, the measure consolidates a southeastern New Mexico district and places Roswell Republicans Bob Wooley and Dennis Kintigh in the same district.

Two Albuquerque incumbents — Democratic Reps. Danice Picraux and Al Park — are paired because of district changes in the city. However, Park isn’t expected to seek re-election.

Boundary revisions in southwestern New Mexico will place Democrat Rudolpho “Rudy” Martinez of Bayard and Republican Dianne Hamilton of Silver City in the same strongly Democratic district. Hamilton says she’s undecided on whether she will seek re-election.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

« »