President Ferguson, Speaker Jones Announce Legislative Redistricting Commission

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones this week announced the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, which is charged with redrawing Maryland’s new Congressional and Legislative district maps.

Members will focus on developing new map configurations to best account for Maryland’s seven percent population growth. Karl Aro will serve as the Chair of the Commission. Mr. Aro, the former Executive Director of the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services, has 32 years of redistricting experience, including serving as an expert in legislative and judicial oversight for Maryland redistricting.

“The Commission’s goal is to ensure that Maryland’s representation reflects its citizens. The General Assembly will pass fair maps based on the robust public engagement and feedback of this Commission,” said Speaker Adrienne A. Jones. “I thank Mr. Aro for agreeing to bring his wealth of experience in redistricting. He is the right person to lead our bipartisan process.”

Members of the Commission also include:
  • House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones – Baltimore County
  • Senate President Bill Ferguson – Baltimore City
  • President Pro Tempore Melony Griffith – Prince George’s County
  • House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke – Montgomery County
  • Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire – Anne Arundel County
  • House Minority Leader Jason Buckel – Allegany County

“Maryland’s Constitution entrusts the General Assembly to redraw our State’s Congressional and Legislative district maps once every 10 years,” said Senate President Ferguson. “To fulfill this constitutional responsibility, we believe it is critical to hear from those we represent, and the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission serves as the General Assembly’s vehicle to hear from Marylanders across the State in a bipartisan and transparent manner before proposing maps for the Legislature to consider.”

According to a press release:

Public input will be a central part of the state’s redistricting process. Beginning in August, the Commission will hold 10 in-person town hall meetings across the state and two virtual meetings. The meetings will be live-streamed and will provide an opportunity for residents to offer feedback and ideas in the public space.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Hogan this year established the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission by executive order.

Upon completion of the 2020 census, the state will draft and enact new district maps. In Maryland, the General Assembly has primary authority to draw both congressional and state legislative district lines.

The governor, aided by an advisory commission, submits a state legislative redistricting proposal. The legislature may pass its own plan by joint resolution, which is not subject to a gubernatorial veto. If the legislature fails to approve its own plan, the governor’s plan takes effect. Congressional lines are drawn solely by the legislature and subject to gubernatorial veto.

In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering challenges to electoral maps are political questions and thus beyond the reach of the federal courts, dismissing challenges by voters in Maryland and North Carolina.

The ruling held that Maryland did not have to redraw congressional election districts before the 2020 elections. Instead, the maps must be redrawn in time for the 2022 elections, in accordance with 2020 United States Census data.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.