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Maryland General Assembly

Democrats uneasy about redistricting proposal

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Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed amending the Maryland constitution to charge an independent commission with drawing the state's eight congressional districts.

A Goucher Poll last fall found overwhelming support among Maryland residents for districts drawn by an independent commission. However, legislative support for the governor's proposal splits along party lines.

Under current law, the governor proposes new districts once a decade, while the legislature can propose alternatives. In a Senate committee Thursday, it was clear that Democrats, with majorities in both legislative chambers, will not be eager to give up that political power.

Sen. Ron Young, a Frederick County Democrat, suggested the state wait for the federal government to eradicate gerrymandered districts nationwide before acting here.

“Congress has had a bill in front of it for a long time that could straighten this out for every state. They don’t pass it, and I haven’t seen any leaders from the other party from anywhere jumping onto that bill," he said. "I don’t want to give up a seat here if the other party’s not willing to give up the seats there and do this everywhere.”

Committee Republicans were more supportive.

Sen. Bryan Simonaire, a Republican from Anne Arundel County, said Maryland should be a leader on the issue, rather than wait for other states.

"I was taught very young that two wrongs don't make a right, so I think we should be doing the right thing independent of what other states are doing."

Groups on both sides of the political aisle also expressed support for the proposal Thursday.

If the legislature passes it, the proposed amendment goes to voters in November.