Virginia Senate Redistricting Plan Axed

A Republican effort to redraw Virginia’s state Senate districts was killed today by the state House.

House Speaker William J. Howell, a Republican, ruled that the Senate redistricting plan was “not germane” because it made sweeping amendments to a House bill that made minor technical amendments to state House districts.

“This vast rewrite” by the Senate went “well beyond the original purpose” of the underlying House bill, Howell said during a state legislative session.

Senate Republicans sought to substitute their map for the one that Democrats enacted in 2011, when they held the majority. The Senate now is tied at 20-20. It passed the redistricting plan on a 20-19 vote on Jan. 21, when one Democratic senator was out of town to attend President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony.

The unexpected move made some Republicans uneasy, including Gov. Bob McDonnell, who’s trying to get a rewrite of transportation laws through the legislature.

The attempt to redraw district boundaries underscored how political line-drawing can be. Aided by sophisticated computer mapping software and precinct-level election results, partisan legislators reshape districts to give their side a political advantage.

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