On October 5, I will be hosting a legislative preview for the special session that is planned for mid-October. Information about this event is listed below.
At that event, I will also be discussing what I call "Maryland's Redistricting Conundrum." This year's redistricting process is particularly challenging in crafting new state senate and house of delegates districts.
In Western Maryland, however, the census numbers allow the creation of districts that respect county boundaries in a manner not possible in the past. Senate districts 1 & 2 have sufficient population to end right at the Washington-Frederick boundary.
Frederick County contains the fastest growing senate district in the state (District 3) which means that the county population supports two full senate districts.
I have analyzed the potential impact on Carroll County's senate districts because of these changes in Western Maryland in my Northern News article from last week:
It is Time for Carroll to Have Exclusive Senate District
On Saturday, July 23, I testified before the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee at Hood College in Frederick about my recommended plan for reconfiguring the Carroll County State Senate and House of Delegates districts based upon population counts from the 2010 census.
Every 10 years, state legislative districts are redrawn based upon the new census numbers. As I noted before the panel last month, my testimony was strikingly similar to the presentation I made 10 years prior on July 25, 2001, to then Gov. Paris Glendenning's advisory committee.
Carroll County's population grew 10.8 percent in the last decade (150,897 to 166,901) which roughly mirrors the overall state growth rate of 9.0 percent. While Maryland saw a dramatic increase in minority population statewide, Carroll County's percentage of minority population grew more modestly from 4.9 percent to 8.8 percent.
There are 47 senate districts in Maryland and in this year's redistricting the ideal population for each senate district are 122,813. Each senate district contains three members of the House of Delegates so the ideal single-member house district is one-third of a senate district or 40,938.
At 166,901, Carroll County has the population to support 1.36 senate districts which is practically identical to the 1.34 senate districts ratio that I testified about in 2001. On both occasions, I presented a redistricting plan that created one senate district entirely within Carroll County and one single-member House of Delegates district aligned with an adjoining county.
In 2001, the Glendening panel rejected my proposal and instead aligned the four delegate districts with three adjoining counties in the current districts as follows: (1) District 4B is a single member delegate district shared with Frederick County; (2) District 9B is a single member delegate district shared with Howard County; and (3) District 5A is a two-member delegate district shared with Baltimore County.
This year, I proposed keeping the District 9B single-member delegate district aligned with Howard County. However, instead of having two districts shared with Frederick and Baltimore counties, I proposed merging the current districts 4B and 5A to create a senate district with three at-large delegates thereby being located entirely within Carroll County's boundaries.
Throughout much of Carroll County's history, we had one senate district with the district being comprised of the entire county. Prior to the mid-1960s, the state constitution provided that each county had at least one senator and had a sliding scale for additional senators based upon population. The last resident state senator under these county-wide provisions was Thomas R. O'Farrell who served in the House of Delegates from 1959 to 1965 and in the State Senate from 1965 to 1966.
Those county-by-county constitutional provisions were rejected under the U. S. Supreme Court case Baker v. Carr, 1963, which required all states to adopt plans for state legislative apportionment under a "one-person, one-vote" standard.
In response to Baker v. Carr, a transitional redistricting was adopted by the Maryland General Assembly in 1967 and Carroll County was placed in a two-member senate district shared with Frederick County. Our senators at that time were Goodloe E. Byron and Charles H. Smelser.
A state constitutional amendment in 1972 created the current redistricting process. Carroll County was one of the smaller counties in the state and did not have a resident senator for over a decade. In the 1982 redistricting, the majority of District 5 was put within Carroll County and the first resident senator under the new alignment was Raymond E. Beck, Sr., in a district that was two-thirds in Carroll County and one-third in Baltimore County.
Under the redistricting plan of Gov. William Donald Schaefer in 1992, Carroll County's growth was sufficient that District 5 was moved entirely within Carroll County. Sen. Larry E. Haines, who was first elected in 1990 in the district shared with Baltimore County, continued to serve in the new Carroll County district.
Fortunately, the statewide shifts in population over the last decade support the redistricting plan for Carroll County that I proposed to reverse the Glendenning map and restore a senate district entirely within the county's boundaries. In fact, the senate district that saw the most population gain in the entire state was District 3 in Frederick County.
This population gain was sufficient to give Frederick County two complete senate districts entirely within its boundaries. The domino effect would be to pull house District 4B entirely into Frederick County thus ending the traditional sharing between Carroll and Frederick counties that began in the mid-1960s.
As proposed in my testimony, the portion of Carroll County now encompassed in District 4B could be joined with current District 5A to form the new district entirely within the county. Whether such a plan is actually adopted is up to the Governor's Advisory Redistricting Committee. They will continue their public hearings through mid-September. Their first priority is to propose a new Congressional redistricting plan which will be considered by the General Assembly in October.
The state legislative plan will be the second project of the committee and will be presented on the first day of the legislative session Jan. 11, 2012. Under the state constitution, the plan submitted by the governor takes effect 45 days after introduction unless an alternative plan is approved by the General Assembly.
Additional information about the redistricting process is available on the state department of planning website at: www.mdp.state.md.us.
Article published in the Northern News, August 4, 2011.