As of 10:30 p.m., Tuesday some members of the Reapportionment Commission charged with redrawing the state’s political map were still talking about how to draw the lines for the state Senate districts. Patrick Scully of the Hanging Shad reported Wednesday morning that they finished the Senate around midnight.
The 151 House districts were finished late last week, but the state Senators were finding it difficult to get agreement on the 36 districts. Sources say they needed to change about six of them and the last few were hotly contested.
The nine-member commission has scheduled a meeting for 4 p.m. Wednesday to vote on the portions they have completed. But it’s unlikely they will finish drawing the lines for the five Congressional Districts.
“I hope to put all three sections of the plan up for a vote,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said Tuesday evening. But he acknowledged it was probably unrealistic.
Cafero expressed concern that Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney found it necessary to criticize the Republicans’ map for their proposed Congressional District lines. He said both sides had promised to remain silent about the maps until a vote. Cafero said he was upset he had to hear about Looney’s concerns about the way Republicans had configured the 4th Congressional District through the news media.
Looney said the Republican map proposed “radical” changes to the 4th that were bound to make is a district “no Democrat could win.”
“It was drawn that way to create a strictly partisan advantage,” Looney said.
Cafero said then Looney should release Republicans from their promise to keep the maps secret and let the public decide for themselves.
Looney said the Democratic map made incremental changes around the edges of the current five districts.
Federal law requires the commission to strictly adhere to around 714,000 residents per Congressional District, it is allowed some leeway when drawing the lines for the state House and Senate districts.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census the eastern portion of the state gained 15,000 people, which means the 2nd District represented by U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney has to lose about 15,000 residents. Republicans argue the entire map should be redrawn to account for the population shift, while the Democrats prefer to add and subtract around the edges of the current districts.
Cafero said there’s agreement on about 139 of the 169 Connecticut cities and towns. He said that’s about 82 percent agreement regarding the Congressional maps, but Looney described the two sides as oceans apart.
“I’d be surprised if there was a meeting of the minds before tomorrow’s meeting,” Looney said.
Cafero said in 2001 when Connecticut lost a Congressional District, the 5th and 6th Districts were merged into a district that amounted to a “political accommodation.” He said lawmakers need to set those boundaries aside and look at the map differently under the constructs of the law.
If there isn’t agreement on any portion of the committee’s charge, it can ask the Supreme Court for a 30-day extension like it did in 2001 when a similar deal failed.