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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2018

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Virginia Senate Republicans play pointless games with redistricting

virginiaBy MARIAH YOUNG

I’ll admit that the Virginia State Senate Republicans have never been on my list of favorite people, but I think now they might have put themselves on a different list.

In the past couple weeks, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Senate Republicans developed a plan to redistrict the state to favor republicans. The plan would cement the republicans’ control in the Virginia Senate.

Normally, there would not be a problem redistricting a state or commonwealth–if it were constitutional, not a secret and, you know, ethical.

A couple of important facts that should be put out there: the Virginia Constitution states that redistricting can be redone every 10 years in years ending in one, the Republicans currently have control of the Senate with 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats, leaving Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling to break any ties, and this is what happened on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Republicans claim that they are just fixing the “gerrymandering” from the last redistricting done by the Republicans. Many disagree.

The redistricting would make the new map “concentrate minority voters in a new Southside district and would change most, if not all, existing district lines,” according to the Washington Post.

I think it is also important to note that this was brought to a vote the day that one senator was out of town, a Democrat and civil rights leader. They waited until Sen. Henry L. Marsh III (D-Richmond) had left Richmond to go into Washington D.C. for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The debate on the bill was only 30 minutes, not even enough time for Marsh to get back from D.C.

One person who does deserve a special mention this time is Bolling, who has scrutinized the bill and refused to vote in favor of it. Props to him.

Republicans must have forgotten that Gov. Bob McDonnell has been pushing to get a transportation bill passed, something that needs the Democrats support and is coming up for vote today. While he has claimed that he finds the bill “very troubling,” according to the Washington Post, he has not made a statement confirming that he will kill the bill.

This is a clear example of unethical and unconstitutional actions from the Republican Party. Not only did they scheme to bring this bill up at a perfect time when one Senator would be gone, but they chose to do it on an official federal holiday, eight years before it would even be legal.

Maybe this would have been executed in better form if it were 2021, the next time it will be constitutional for them to redistrict the state. It could even be done on inauguration day if they really wanted to get into that again.

If they just wanted their 15 minutes of fame on national news–and the Colbert Report–there are probably many other things they could do, like come to a vote on McDonnell’s transportation and education bills.

You know what makes this situation even better? They ended the Senate session early in honor of “Stonewall” Jackson. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Classy move, Virginia Senate Republicans, classy move.