Special Session: Amendments slow the pace of redistricting while the GOP says their plan treats all better

The Senate chambers during an afternoon floor session on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City.

The Senate chambers during an afternoon floor session on the final day of the 81st session of the Legislature on Monday, May 31, 2021, in Carson City.
Photo: David Calvert / The Nevada Independent

The special session was stalled Sunday as staff worked to draft amendments called for during a daylong hearing on the Democratic majority’s maps.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, said Sunday it may take until Tuesday or later to prepare those amendments and work things out.

As a result, the legislative building was pretty much vacant on Sunday except for staff and security.
The move came after numerous minority representatives, local officials and others called for changes to the maps.

More than a dozen Hispanic spokesmen called for changes saying the original maps disenfranchise them and tribal leaders objected to maps that divide two tribal groups into more than one district.

In addition, Elko officials protested putting Carlin in a different district than Elko and several other GOP lawmakers including Reno’s Heidi Seevers Gansert protested the Senate District 14 map that stretches all the way from Verdi to Carlin — nearly 300 miles.

Cannizzaro said after the hearing on Senate Bill 1 that some amendments would be drafted to address concerns raised by different groups.

Republican leadership said their redistricting maps do a much better job of protecting Hispanic and Indian tribal interests and the wishes of local government leaders.

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus of Smith Valley and Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville said their plan splits only one city while the Democrat plan splits six local political subdivisions.
In a joint announcement, they said their plan maintains the integrity of all tribal groups while the Democrats split the Walker Lake Paiute reservation as well as the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

Hispanics said the current maps divides their Southern Nevada community of interest, dramatically weakening their political power.

Republican leaders said their Assembly maps produce five Assembly districts with more than 50 percent Hispanic population while the D’s plan produces four. They said their maps also treat Asians and Blacks better than the majority party.

Settelmeyer said their maps have significantly less deviation in populations between the different Senate and Assembly districts and that their maps are much more compact, unlike SD14 that stretches across the state.

Titus said in the 2021 session, Democrats adopted rules restricting the minority’s ability to introduce amendments in what she described as the most partisan session ever.

“Once again, Democrats have attempted to shut Republicans out of the legislative process,” she said of the proposed maps.

She said they are trying to silence nearly two thirds of Nevadans since the Democratic Party only makes up 34 percent of registered voters.

Among the amendments that may take some time to prepare is the effort to count Nevada’s prison inmates in the district where they lived when arrested instead of in the district where they are serving their sentence.

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