The bipartisan Reapportionment Committee has gotten a lot of work done since it started in April, but it admitted at it meeting Tuesday that it won’t meet its Sept. 15 deadline.
The laws governing the committee dictate that the four legislative leaders will need to be reappointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, then they will reappoint the four other lawmakers currently on the committee before naming a ninth member.
They will have 30 days to appoint the ninth member.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said the committee’s inability to reach a conclusion on how to draw the political districts in the state is “not because of any partisan rancor or acrimony.”
“It’s just an enormous task and an incredibly important task,” McKinney said.
Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, agreed with McKinney’s remarks and added that when it comes time for a ninth member to be appointed he would like the committee to find someone who fit’s the profile of the late Nelson Brown.
“Somebody who was extraordinarily well-respected by both parties, a senior statesman, someone who understands the General Assembly,” Looney said.
Brown had been appointed to the committee twice over the last few decades as the ninth member, but he died last week at the age of 89.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he and House Speaker Chris Donovan have talked about how the lines would be drawn for “well over 100 districts.”
“And it is a very tedious and complicated process,” Cafero added.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, declined to say how many of the 36 Senate districts he’s discussed with McKinney.
“I don’t anticipate we’ll be releasing districts in a piecemeal way,” Williams said.
Donovan, who is also running for the open 5th Congressional District seat, said the committee has been concentrating on the House and Senate districts.
Five candidates in that race including Donovan live in border towns and that district will have to lose at least 400 people.
Asked if any of the candidates need to worry about what the committee will decide, Cafero joked, “we’ve cut all of them out.”
Donovan was quick to point out that the 5th district is only off by about 400 residents, “that’s not a town.”
Looney said the Congressional districts will be like a domino moving from east to west because it’s the 2nd Congressional district, which takes up the eastern portion of the state, that will need to lose population. He said that district will have to be reduce by about 15,000 whereas the other four Congressional districts are pretty close to population.
Each Congressional district needs to include 714,819 this year and the 2nd Congressional District has a population of about 729,771 people, according to U.S. Census data.
Cafero said this year the population growth has been in the northeast corner of the state and the committee will be looking at shifting districts from east to west in order to reach their constitutionally mandated goals.
In trying to explain the process to his wife Cafero equated it to hanging wallpaper.
“Too much glue in the upper right hand corner and you’re trying to push this glue westward and southward. It’s tricky. Tricky stuff,” Cafero said.
Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, said the committee has not addressed the Congressional districts at all yet and have focused all of their energy on the House and Senate seats.
“We had discussed many districts, but we really haven’t reached a final conclusion,” O’Neill said. “We’ve done a lot of work so that when we got to the commission phase it will go more quickly.”