Special session ends, legislative and congressional maps approved

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (L-R), Asher Killian, Assemblyman Steve Yeager, Assemblyman Andy Matthews and Assemblywoman Brittney Miller listen as legislative staff present new district maps in the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Samuel Metz)

Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (L-R), Asher Killian, Assemblyman Steve Yeager, Assemblyman Andy Matthews and Assemblywoman Brittney Miller listen as legislative staff present new district maps in the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Samuel Metz)

On a party line vote, the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday approved the new legislative and congressional district maps.
Gov. Steve Sisolak called the special session to handle reapportionment on Friday.
But after the special session adjourned sine die just after noon Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville said the maps Democrats approved are inaccurate because they still don’t have all Nevada prison inmates listed in the district where they lived when they were arrested instead of the district where they are incarcerated. He pointed out that not doing so violates state law.
He said the state had a near minority-majority of Hispanics in Congressional District 1 but Democrats chose to break it up into three districts, effectively disenfranchising that group and making it almost impossible to elect a Hispanic congressman.
Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus of Smith Valley said her caucus was discussing whether they have enough grounds to ask a court to throw out the maps. She said it’s likely the Hispanics have more grounds to challenge the maps than Republicans since drawing partisan maps is not unconstitutional.
Settelmeyer too said it’s not clear there is enough wrong legally for the GOP to win a lawsuit against the maps.
He described the process as “appalling.”
But Brittney Miller, who chaired the select committee that reviewed and recommended the bill, disagreed saying SB1, “keeps communities together.”
“It’s fair and legal and accurately reflects the diversity of our state,” she said.
Lawmakers kept the size of the Legislature the same — 21 senators and 42 Assembly members. And all Assembly districts are nested, two in each Senate district.
But they shifted the population of a number of districts to give them Democratic instead of Republican majorities including Sen. Heidi Gansert’s and Assemblywoman Jill Tolles’ districts in Reno.
The amendment approved Monday cured some issues including those of the Walker River Paiute Reservation and Reno Sparks Indian Colony which were originally split between two districts. But Democrats refused to put Carlin back in the same district as Elko. Elko Assemblyman John Ellison said the county remains cut in half. He added that Assembly District 33 extends from Jackpot in the north all the way south to Pahrump, a distance of nearly 500 miles.
“Assembly District 33 is larger than many states,” he said adding that it didn’t have to be that way.
Assemblyman Greg Hafen, who represents Pahrump, questioned why Pahrump was split in to two districts. He said that clearly violates protecting communities of interest.
“I’m the only person in this room that has a license to dissect human beings,” said Titus, a medical doctor. She said SB1, “dissects families, communities.”
Tolles said despite the strong growth in the Hispanic, African American and Asian populations in Nevada over the past decade, the Democratic maps have one fewer Hispanic, one fewer black and one fewer Asian districts.
And Jill Dickman, a Sparks Republican, said there was almost no testimony in support of the bill but dozens of opponents. She described it as “universally unliked.”
The Assembly vote was 25-17 on straight party lines.
In the Senate, which just had to concur with the amendment added by the Assembly, there was no debate and just a simple voice vote.
Finally, SB1 designates the maps of the four State Board of Education districts. They are each in one of the congressional districts.
The special session also approved AB1 setting boundaries for the Board of Regents and temporarily moving judicial candidate filing to match the non-judicial filing period so clerks don’t have to interrupt redistricting work to handle judges seeking office.

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