Redistricting passes Legislature |

Redistricting passes Legislature

Associated Press
Nevada Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, left, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, arrive at a meeting with state business and community leaders Thursday morning, May 5, 2011, at Western Nevada College in Carson City, Nev. Democratic lawmakers continue to work on a tax plan despite Gov. Brian Sandoval's stance against any tax or fee increases. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
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The Nevada Senate passed a bill redrawing the state’s voting districts Tuesday on a strict party-line vote that had Republicans crying foul and lawsuits waiting in the wings.

The measure, SB497, was approved 11-10 and immediately sent to the Assembly, where it was approved 25-17. Asemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, voted with the GOP opposition in the lower house.

Republicans were united in their opposition, saying the Democratic redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act by packing minority Hispanic voters into a few districts and fragmenting the rest of the minority communities.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, called the Democratic plan a “blatant power grab that fails the smell test,” while Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, said it was a “slap in the face of democracy.”

The floor vote came three days after 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 only way Democrats can draw a map that is this partisan is by breaking the law,” Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said in a Republican caucus statement. “They have rejected the will of Nevada’s voters, they’ve clearly put their partisan interest ahead of what is morally right for the Hispanic community, and they’ve violated the federal law in the process.”

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, took exception to the GOP criticism. Denis, who is Hispanic, said the Democratic plan creates minority influenced districts.

The reapportionment issue is likely headed to 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.

Before Tuesday’s floor vote, Cegavske also complained that the legislative committee didn’t even hold a hearing on the Republican mapping plan before voting on it.