Elections, Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

Senate GOP finally agrees on new district map; bill passes 31-2

CHARLESTON – After five days of haggling, Senate Republicans agreed on a Senate redistricting map on Tuesday.

And the Senate minority found it reasonable enough, members said, to support it. SB 3034 passed handily, 31-2, with little debate.

Redistricting Committee chair Charles Trump, R-Morgan, presented the Trump-Takubo-Tarr-Karnes-Rucker (TTTKR) map as an amendment to the committee map contained in the bill. He said it synthesized the two maps discussed Monday and sought to settle points of contention.

“I think it does a good job of that,” he said. It divides 11 counties, compared to the Rucker map that split 13. And only one county (Kanawha) is split three ways, compared to two (counting Monongalia) in the current map.

The TTTKR map keeps most of Kanawha in the 17th District, Trump pointed out, except for a strip running from Charleston to Nitro that’s joined with all or part of four other counties in the 8th, and the southern portion joined with Boone and Lincoln in the 7th.

The 13th, Trump said, largely matches the current Morgantown-Fairmont alignment, keeping all of Morgantown, Westover, Star City and Granville in the district. Cheat Lake, western Mon and western Marion are in the 2nd.

“I think the plan before us meets the Constitutional requirements that are imposed upon us,” Trump said.

Sens. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, and Richard Lindsay, D-Kanawha, offered the two votes against the bill. Lindsay was the only other senator to speak to the bill, saying he objected because it splits Kanawha three ways.

The Dominion Post spoke with Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, after the vote. “There was a lot of back and forth going on; it was very much a moving target through the whole process,” he said.

Some maps kept Mon whole, some reflected the existing map, he said. “At the end of the day, what Sen. [Mike] Caputo and I were concerned with was keeping that common cause that both counties seem to share in regard to education, health care, high tech.”

Also, he said, some maps didn’t respect corporate boundaries of Granville, Westover, Osage. And Mon is in just two districts now, with no precincts in the 14th. “At the end of the day I guess we’re still pretty happy with the outcome.” And maybe next time Mon will be kept whole.

In a press release, the Democratic caucus said most members believe the TTTKR map “represented a compromise among the reasonable members of the Senate.: Earlier versions of the map split more counties, split municipalities, and split more communities of interest.

“We remain deeply concerned by a major rift within the body right now, which this process exposed,” they said. “The majority of the West Virginia Senate is governed by common sense. It allows us to work together across lines to serve the people. However, a small faction of the majority party threatened at many junctures to hijack the process.

“Instead of considering a map passed out of the Redistricting Committee, the faction created and proposed their own map in the dead of night and tried to force a vote on it without publishing it for public consideration or taking any comments on it whatsoever,” they said. “Our Republic requires compromise, transparency, and decency. This did not have to be so difficult.”

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for concurrence when it convenes at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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