The day after the House and Senate passed bills policing gift-giving and travel, good-government advocates said lawmakers were silent on the biggest ethics issue facing the state: redistricting. A House panel will consider Thursday the first of several Senate proposals that call for nonpartisan drawing of the lines separating legislative districts — a political process currently controlled by the General Assembly. Because districts are often drawn to protect incumbents, they tend to include populations that lean heavily toward one party over the other — attracting candidates who appeal to the extremes of their parties at the expense of bipartisanship or moderation. As a result, redistricting is regularly blamed for the partisan discourse that sometimes defines the tenor of the Legislature.
Despite strong support in the Senate, the House — where Republicans hold a overwhelming majority — has shown no appetite for changing the process.
Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Spotsylvania), chairman of the committee in charge of redistricting issues, said the House bills — which never got a hearing — were a low priority because the next scheduled redistricting is five years away.