Gov. Larry Hogan’s 11-member Redistricting Reform Commission, created on Aug. 6 by executive order, met for first time near the State House Thursday where they outlined their first steps to reform the process of drawing Maryland’s congressional and legislative district lines. In order to combat Maryland’s A+ grade in gerrymandering, an unlucky subject to be excelling at, the commission plans to hold four to five “regional summits,” or public hearings, over the next two months. The final outcome will be a report outlining voters concerns with redistricting, due to the governor and General Assembly leaders by Nov. 3, less than 10 weeks from now. The commission will have to produce a quick turnaround with a “fairly aggressive” schedule, according to the governor’s office. In addition to the report, the commission is tasked with recommending a constitutional amendment on congressional and legislative redistricting to be introduced during the Maryland General Assembly’s next legislative session.
“If we are going to set up an independent, nonpartisan commission to draw lines for congressional (redistricting) … to take the power away from politicians to choose their constituents and make it the other way around, to make it so constituents can choose their representatives, I would argue it makes sense to do it for both congressional redistricting and legislative,”explained Patrick Hogan, a deputy legislative officer for the governor, as well as his brother and a former delegate.
The commission is made up of two state senators, two state delegates, two public policy experts, one representative of a non-profit voters advocacy organization and one government reform advocacy representative. All agreed upon finding accessible locations to hold these meetings, in order to hear as many voters as possible.
“If there are 300 people on the sheet and signed up, we hear them, okay? We hear them,” said Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City. Conway chairs the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, which also handles election law.
The commission plans to invite guest speakers, experts in their private fields, who will be presenting their own research at these hearings.