(Matt Demlein, WRVA)

Governor To Veto Redistricting Bill

Says Bill, Which Is Yet To Pass General Assembly, Is Partisan

October 02, 2018 - 4:58 pm

Richmond, Va. (Newsradiowrva.com) --  Just hours after House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) announced the House of Delegates would return October 21st to consider a redistricting bill, Governor Ralph Northam (D) promised a veto of that bill.  The House bill passed out of committee last week along party lines, and is viewed by Cox as necessary, in order to avoid a court-ordered mandate of new districts by the end of October.  The current districts have been ruled unconstitutional because they place too many African-Americans into too few districts.  Republicans are appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Northam issued this statement: "Since the federal court’s June 26th finding that 11 Virginia House of Delegates districts were unconstitutional, I have closely monitored the legislature’s progress to produce a remedy. I understand and appreciate the effort devoted to the maps drafted in House Bills 7001, 7002, and 7003; however, the nature of the August 30th and September 27th proceedings in the House Privileges and Elections Committee reinforced my belief that this partisan process should not continue and that the federal court is best positioned to construct a remedial districting plan.


Given this conviction, I must unequivocally state that I will veto House Bill 7003 should it reach my desk.


The federal court has contemplated a process by which it, through a nonpartisan special master, will construct a remedial districting plan should legislative efforts fail, and I believe that is the best course of action before us. Virginians deserve fair and constitutional lines in place in time for June 2019 primaries, without further delay. 


I have championed nonpartisan redistricting from my first campaign for public office in 2007 and I continue to believe that is the true solution on this incredibly important issue. In the 2018 General Assembly session I offered amendments to House Bill 1598 and Senate Bill 106 that would have created a fairer redistricting process, particularly with respect to the protection of racial minorities, but those were defeated on a party-line vote. I hope legislators from both parties and in both chambers will come to the table in the 2019 session to propose and adopt an amendment to enshrine nonpartisan redistricting in the Virginia Constitution. I will support this effort and engage when appropriate to reinforce the fundamentals of fairness, which are lacking in the current process. Furthermore, I will continue to advocate for the protection of minority representation in the General Assembly."