Faced with a tight deadline, Maine’s redistribution panel to release proposed maps next week
AUGUSTA, Maine – Democrats and Republicans on the Maine Cutting Commission have said they will release draft congressional maps and laws next week, less than two weeks before the court deadline.
Maine’s high court gave the bipartisan commission 45 days to draw new district boundaries after the census data was released, setting its deadline for September 27. The legislature is expected to meet after that to vote on potential cards.
Although the two caucuses worked independently on maps, neither presented proposals at Friday’s committee meeting. Public input to the process has been limited so far, and advocacy groups have encouraged the commission to free possible districts.
“A recurring comment we have received is that members of the public do not feel able to comment without comment cards,” said Anna Kellar, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Maine in a written testimony to the Commission.
Retired Maine Supreme Court Justice Donald Alexander, a non-partisan member and chairman of the commission, said he would meet with members of both caucuses on Monday to discuss the timing of the release of the maps, with maps of Congress , State Senate and County Commissioners to be released next week. . Home maps could be ready by Friday, he said, or early the following week.
The commission has scheduled its next hearing for September 20 to seek comment on all of the maps that have been released up to this point. Another meeting can be scheduled later in the week to get feedback on the house plans.
At the congressional level, the changes will likely involve the relocation of towns to Kennebec County, the only county currently divided between the two districts. The commission is due to move around 23,000 people online from the 1st to the 2nd arrondissement, and could do so while “leaving the main communities” in place, said David Emery, a former congressman working on the Republican side.
Only one map was presented at Friday’s committee meeting – a plan developed by the Somerset County Commission to overhaul its county commissioner districts that was welcomed by both sides. Several counties don’t expect to make changes to their county commissioner districts because they haven’t seen significant changes in the population, Alexander said.