GOP to release electoral maps ahead of redistricting session

Posted July 10, 2011 11:38 p.m. EDT
Updated July 11, 2011 2:19 p.m. EDT

— State legislators were expected to release the final set of electoral district maps for the House and Senate Tuesday, in anticipation of the special redistricting session, which gets underway Wednesday.

Republican-backed maps, drafts of which were up for public comment last week, are drawing a great deal of praise and criticism from communities across the state.

"A lot of what people will be talking about in the very first day and couple days of the session is... what does my district look like and what do these maps mean?" Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said Sunday.

The maps were due to be released Monday, but Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, co-chairman of the redistricting committee, said the panel was making some last-minute adjustments to reflect public feedback received last week.

Republicans say their draft map of the state's 13 U.S. House districts will balance the electoral scales in a two-party state.

Opponents, however, are accusing Republicans of gerrymandering and called the draft map "illegal," charging that it clusters black voters into two Democratic-leaning districts.

Rev. William Barber, who heads the state chapter of the NAACP,  threatened litigation at the statewide meeting Thursday if Republicans move forward with their proposed map, calling it "regressive" and "backward."

Republicans only need a majority vote to pass their maps, which they can gain without Democratic support. The governor cannot veto redistricting bills.

"What we are shooting for is to have redistricting maps that are fair and legal," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

Lawmakers also plan to take another look at bills that were vetoed by the governor for potential overrides. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Friday that he plans to consider an override on six vetoed bills, including measures on medical malpractice, offshore drilling, regulatory reform and unemployment law changes.

"The Senate said that it would take up the Senate bills that have been vetoed and do its overrides early because, as you know, the Senate has the votes to do its overrides," Ross said. "It's in the House where the votes are questionable."

Dollar said Republicans will reach across the aisle to Gov. Beverly Perdue in an attempt to work together "to get North Carolina's economy back on track."

A public hearing on the redistricting maps is scheduled for July 18.