Apportionment Committee Unanimously Approves Redistricting Compromise Senate and House District Maps
A bipartisan commission appointed to redraw Legislative district lines on Friday unanimously approved a compromise map for the Maine House of Representatives. The vote follows unanimous approval of a compromise map for the State Senate and county maps last Friday.
The commission’s unanimous vote was seen as a victory in the redistricting process. Decisions often have been left to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, including in 2003, when lawmakers couldn’t settle on a Senate map.
“We have reached a map that I think is reasonable and fair to both sides,” said David Emery, a consultant for Republicans who has been involved in redistricting debates in Maine dating to 1973. “It’s impossible to make everyone happy in a negotiation of this kind, but both caucuses should be congratulated for their work.”
Greg Olson, a Democratic consultant, agreed.
“Overall, this is a true compromise,” Olson said Friday of the new House map. “This is a map both sides and the people in the state can be proud of. This represents the first time in many decades that we’ve come to an agreement on both chambers of the Legislature as well as the county commissions.”
Maine law requires legislative district and county commission maps be updated every 10 years based on population changes. The new maps are based on the 2010 census, which shows a shift in population from Northern to Southern Maine.
The ideal House district size is 8,797 people, while the ideal Senate district is 37,953. The 151 House districts and the 35 Senate districts are all within plus or minus 5 percent of that ideal population size.
The Maine Constitution requires the plan to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the legislature by June 11. If a two-thirds vote cannot be achieved, redistricting proposals are sent to the State Supreme Judicial Court for resolution.
Reactions of some lawmakers who served on the committee are below.
Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan), Assistant House Majority Leader:
“These comprise maps demonstrate that the two parties can work together even on tough issues.”
Senator Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), Assistant Senate Majority Leader:
“We worked together to get the job done. It was a good example of bipartisan work happening in the Legislature.”
Senator Emily Cain (D-Penobscot):
“The maps are a fair and deliberate compromise that we believe is in the best interest of the state of Maine. This compromise bodes well for the vote in the House and Senate.”
Rep. Joan Welsh (D-Rockport):
“We are proud to recommend a compromise map to the full Legislature.”
Here are the released changes (PDF):
The maps face further votes in the House and Senate.