Governor Northam says he will veto the House redistricting bill

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Posted by Brandon Jarvis

Governor Northam today issued the following statement on the General Assembly’s progress to produce a constitutional remedy pursuant to the Court’s approaching October 30 deadline.

“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.”

Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox (R – Colonial Heights) responded with:

“At least the Governor is finally being honest. After weeks of feigning interest, the governor has admitted at last that he wants federal judges appointed by President Obama to draw a redistricting map to deliver a Democratic majority in the House of Delegates.” said Speaker Kirk Cox. “This public omission stands in contrast to several private conversations I’ve shared with him.”

Cox added, “We’ve expressed our willingness to work on House Bill 7002, 7003 or any other map so long as it complies with the Court order, is politically-neutral, and adheres to traditional redistricting criteria. Our offer still stands. In the coming days we will evaluate whether there are any alternative pathways and the necessity of meeting as scheduled on October 21.”

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