By ALLISON MOLLENKAMP
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland General Assembly voted to override a veto from Gov. Larry Hogan, R, to officially pass a congressional redistricting plan favored by Democrats.
On a 96 to 42 vote, the House overrode the veto on HB1, while the Senate voted 32 to 14.
The plan was submitted to the General Assembly by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, a group put together by the Legislature’s Democratic leadership and with a Democratic majority.
The plan would create seven likely Democratic congressional seats and one competitive seat in District 1, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a redistricting research group.
District 1 is the only area of the state, out of eight congressional seats, currently held by a Republican, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Cockeysville.
Democrats outnumber Republicans approximately 2-1 in voter registration in Maryland.
In House debate over the veto override Thursday, Minority Whip Del. Christopher Adams, R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico Counties, spoke in favor of sustaining the governor’s veto.
Adams bemoaned the fact that the map’s fate will likely be decided in court, rather than in the Legislature.
“We yet again will find ourselves in front of a judge, someone else making the final decision as to what this map looks like,” Adams said.
The governor’s favored plan was developed by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, a partisan-balanced group that he established earlier this year.
That plan did not get a committee vote, and amendments to substitute the citizens map — which Princeton researchers said would have likely resulted in one Republican, one competitive GOP-leaning and six Democratic seats — failed in both chambers of the Legislature.
Hogan held a press conference Thursday where he vetoed the redistricting bill, calling its passage “an unmitigated arrogance of power.”
Hogan encouraged the Biden administration to add Maryland to a federal lawsuit alleging Texas’ redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the lawsuit Monday.
Hogan called the map he vetoed “a far more egregious civil rights violation than the Texas map.”
Republicans in the Maryland Legislature have criticized the Democrats’ map as creating fewer majority-minority districts than the citizens commission map.
Diluting the votes of minority groups is prohibited under the Voting Rights Act.
Fair Maps Maryland, an anti-gerrymandering group with ties to the governor, announced in a press release Wednesday their intent to take “aggressive legal action” in wake of the Legislature passing the redistricting bill; the release did not include specific plans.
Lawmakers were also expected to elect Del. Dereck Davis, D-Prince George’s, as treasurer Thursday evening.
The Legislature voted to override over two dozen vetoes other than redistricting.
Debate in the House of Delegates on HB16, a bill to prohibit agreements for “immigration-related detention by private entities,” was particularly fraught, with discussion of racism and xenophobia, as well as the financial impact of the bill.
Republicans opposed an override on SB133, which would change rules for local income tax levels and tax brackets.
The override passed in both chambers.
Many Republicans also opposed overriding the veto on SB202, a bill to shorten the time period before a person sentenced to life in prison is eligible for parole, and remove the governor from the parole process in these cases; that override vote also passed.
Both chambers also overrode Hogan’s veto of a bill to allow collective bargaining for community college employees.
Overrides for a bill to loosen restrictions on drug paraphernalia and another to market the Purple Line were both postponed indefinitely.
Two public safety bills introduced at the request of Hogan’s administration were referred to committee, where they did not receive hearings.