By Daniel Menefee

Sen. Jim Brochin

Sen. Jim Brochin

Sen. James Brochin has proposed a law to reduce partisanship in future redistricting decisions by creating a Temporary Redistricting Commission in the year following a U.S. Census.

Brochin, a Towson Democrat, believes his 42nd District in Baltimore County was redrawn into “ultra-Republican” areas — as punishment for regularly voting with the Republican minority on fiscal issues. He said his track record against tax increases put him in the cross-hairs of the administration.

“I’m doing this so the next person who holds my seat, or any other seat, doesn’t get punished for exhibiting independence,” said Brochin.

The proposal would revamp the redistricting process that occurs after each census and create a nine-member redistricting commission to oversee both congressional and legislative redistricting. The bill had a hearing yesterday.

The commission would consist of four members appointed by the governor, two by the House Speaker, two by the President of the Senate, and the executive director of the Department of Legislative Services, who would chair the commission.

The law would also mandate that three members of the “dominant minority party” be appointed to the commission.

How it would work

In the year following a census, the commission would be responsible to hold two sets of 12 public hearings throughout the state. The first set of hearings would run from April 16 to May 31 to get input from the public on existing district lines. The second round of hearings would run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31 for public review of preliminary maps drawn in the previous 12 hearings.

“We’re talking about an entirely new process of redistricting, where you’re not allowed to take into account party affiliations and incumbents’ addresses,” said Brochin. “These things would be against the law under this proposal.”

“They had legislators’ names and addresses all over the maps,” Brochin said about the current redistricting process. “They put four Republican delegates in my district. Politicians shouldn’t be picking their voters, voters should pick their politicians.”

Brochin introduced similar legislation in 2006. California and 15 other states currently use the process he’s proposed, he said.