RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -
The push to change the way Virginia decides on voting districts failed again Thursday. Two bills introduced to reform the process of drawing political boundary lines failed to even make it out of a subcommittee meeting.
25th District Delegate Steve Landes and other Republicans on a House Privileges and Elections Subcommittee struck down Senate Bill 1000 and Senate Bill 824. The former bill would have put the Division of Legislative Services up to the task of redistricting. The latter legislation would have asked voters in a referendum if Virginia should have an independent commission create and propose redistricting plans.
People who spoke in favor of these bills were disappointed that they will not even be taken up at a House hearing. Supporters say lawmakers have a clear conflict of interest, but others say that's for the legislature to handle.
"You're feathering your own nest, and that's a conflict of interest. And that's how the Virginia system operates," said OneVirginia2021 President of Board of Directors Greg Lucyk.
"It was disappointing coming from Charlottesville to see Delegate Landes essentially vote for partisan gerrymandering," said Ann Laurence-Baumer, University of Virginia student. "We are frustrated with the current political process. We're ready for effective legislative reform."
"The founders of the United States and the founders of the commonwealth determined that we would be the ones that are responsible for it," Del. Landes said.
"I understand the concerns, but I think we really need to seriously address how we're going to make this happen," said 6th District Senator Lynwood Lewis Jr. (D)
Regardless of groups like OneVirginia2021 saying lawmakers on this panel are biased, Del. Landes offered a different reason for why he would not pass on the bills, saying "I don't see why we would give that responsibility to an un-elected body even though they may be appointed by the legislature."
While the two bills presented Thursday did not survive out of the subcommittee, two more are supposed to be taken up on panels in the House of Delegates. However, with a Republican super-majority in the House, there's not much incentive for them to budge.
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