With little more than a week before its deadline, the legislative panel convened to redraw Connecticut’s political districts continues to work daily on coming to agreements on the state’s House and Senate districts but has yet to tackle the five congressional districts.
The bipartisan Reapportionment Commission has until Nov. 30 to agree on maps in all three areas. If the committee is unable to reach consensus by that time the maps will go to a judge who will decide how the districts are redrawn.
So far, the committee’s four House members have largely focused on negotiating an agreement for the state’s 151 House districts. Meanwhile, its four senators have been exchanging proposals for maps of the 36 senate districts.
Initially the eight-person committee had a Sept. 15 deadline to complete its work. When that date came and went the committee was reformed as a nine-person commission, adding Kevin Johnston, a former Democratic state lawmaker and auditor, as its ninth member.
Ten years ago, the last time the state underwent redistricting following a census tally, the committee came to an agreement on the state’s House and Senate districts just before its deadline, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D- New Haven, said.
For its congressional districts the committee asked for and received an extension from a judge to finish working on those maps after the deadline, he said.
Looney, a member of the committee, wouldn’t speculate this week whether the same thing would happen this year. He said the committee has been meeting every day for weeks and is making progress.
“It’s incremental but it’s progress. I’m hopeful we’re moving to an agreement,” he said Monday.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R- Fairfield, said everyone working on the Senate district maps was keenly aware of the fast-approaching deadline but couldn’t say whether they would meet it.
“We’re all very cognizant of how late in the day it is and time is running short,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to make a commitment. I guess that’s a sign that we’re not as close as we need to be but not as far as we could be.”
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R- Norwalk, seemed optimistic Tuesday that House members would reach an agreement within 48 hours. He said by comparison, reaching consensus on congressional districts should be easier.
“Let’s face it, with regards to the House, we’re talking about 151 districts. With regards to Congress, we’re dealing with five. One would assume it would be quicker,” he said.
Still, Cafero wasn’t willing to make predictions about where negotiations will conclude before the deadline. The committee is making progress but it comes in fits and starts, he said.
“It’s been civil but we’ve had our sticking points. You hit a wall and you try to work around it in a way that works for both sides,” he said.
Cafero said staff members from both sides have been communicating with each other well, trading maps and ideas back and forth.
At an unrelated event Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that if the commission failed to meet their deadline it would be a “gigantic mistake.” There is a process to make the decision and members of the panel should do their jobs, he said.
“They should get their act together and get reapportionment done. It’s an odd number of people—have a vote and get it done and stop playing around. We know how bad Washington looks, we don’t need that replicated in our own state. The ayes have it, have a vote.”