Critics: Senate Redistricting Bill Inadequate --WXXI March 14, 2011

Michael Gianaris

March 15, 2011

Critics: Senate Redistricting Bill Inadequate

By Karen Dewitt 

ALBANY, NY (WXXI) - Senate Republicans and Democrats argued over the issue of redrawing new district lines Monday, as pressure mounts on the Senate GOP to adopt a plan for an independent commission soon.

Senate Republicans approved a plan that would change the state's constitution to require that new district lines be drawn by a non -partisan commission. Senate sponsor John Bonacic says he picked up the bill from previous sponsors in earlier decades because it's the most comprehensive solution.

"I thought it was pure, it was simple, it was independent it was bi partisan," said Bonacic. "It's as truthful as we can get when it comes to drawing lines for redistricting."

But changing the state's constitution requires the votes of two consecutively elected state legislatures, and then approval by the voters in a general election. The earliest that the constitutional changes could take place would be in November 2013. That's long after the 2012 deadline for drawing new district lines that will be in place for the next decade.

Dick Dadey, with the reform group Citizens Union, says that's too little too late.

"It essentially kicks the can down the road 11 years away to 2022," said Dadey. "We need redistricting reform now."........

....Democrats, on the floor of the Senate, tried to bring to the floor alternative bills to achieve the redistricting reform sooner, but were rebuffed. Senator Michael Gianaris, who sponsors a bill similar to Governor Andrew Cuomo's, that would require non partisan redistricting, accused Senate Republicans of breaking a signed campaign pledge that they would reform redistricting for the current cycle.

"I just want to be clear that this concurrent resolution does not satisfy that promise," said Gianaris.