A Maryland task force proposed Tuesday that the state allow an independent panel to draw the state’s voting districts, widely cited as some of the most gerrymandered in the nation. The proposals, approved 9 to 1 by a commission appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), will go to Maryland lawmakers as they prepare for the next legislative session to begin in January. “These reforms would put Maryland in the front ranks of redistricting reform and establish an independent, balanced approach to creating congressional and state legislative districts,” the task force said in a report released Tuesday.
Democrats, who hold strong majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, have already expressed reluctance to strip redistricting authority from elected officials after the party lost its grip on the U.S. House and Senate in recent elections. They are concerned that Republicans, who control 32 governorships and 24 state legislatures, will not make similar changes to help prevent gerrymandering of congressional districts nationally.
Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) has said the state should hold out for Congress to pass a federal redistricting law — an unlikely scenario considering that Republicans control both chambers — or else work toward a regional agreement that includes nearby states such as Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.