Panels pass redistricting plan

Legislative panels made short work Saturday of approving a Nevada redistricting plan backed by Democrats, a move quickly denounced by Republicans who called the plan illegal.

Both the Senate and Assembly committees on Legislative Operations and Elections voted to approve SB497 and AB566, respectively. The bills detail new voting districts developed by Democratic strategists.

The committee votes were along strict partisan lines. Democrats hold slim margins in both chambers.

Republicans in a statement condemned the plan as violating the Voting Rights Act and failing to ensure fair representation for Hispanics. GOP lawmakers said the plan illegally "packed" Hispanics into districts and fractured minority communities.

"Democrats are making it more difficult for Hispanics to elect Hispanic candidates to represent their community," they said.

The reapportionment issue is likely to end up in court. Pre-emptive lawsuits were filed by both parties weeks ago, challenging the ability of lawmakers to redraw districts fairly.

Voting districts are redrawn every 10 years based on population shifts as recorded by the Census Bureau.

The mapping redraws all 42 Assembly and 21 state Senate districts. They also carve out a fourth congressional seat in Nevada.

In the Senate committee hearing, Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, questioned why only the Democratic plan was submitted for a bill draft.

"We're trying to be nonpartisan on this, I'd like to have it fair," she said, asking the committee to request a bill draft detailing the Republican proposal so both bills could be debated.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford complied, and the motion was passed. The Las Vegas Democrat then moved to approve the Democratic plan, leaving Cegavske frustrated.

"I'm perplexed," she said. "We just made a motion to allow the Republicans to have their bill drafted. And somebody just made a motion to pass out the Democrat plan.

"Why would you make a motion to do that and then make a motion to push out the bill?" she said.


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