Albany May Still Craft A Deal To Set Its Own District Lines
The new congressional lines for New York proposed by a federal magistrate judge on Tuesday are not binding, and could be completely revised if state legislators reach their own agreement to supersede the judge. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
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New York has had a contentious redistricting process. Back-room negotiations have so far resulted in partisan gridlock over what the lines should look like.
Now that a special master has taken the initiative, leaders in Albany seem to have taken that as their cue to quickly find consensus among themselves. It's an outcome they would clearly prefer.
"Always an agreement, that's our responsibility, ultimately. And I think maybe what the judge did was give us the impetus or the template to now make the necessary deals," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat.
Republicans in the State Senate also welcomed the court's involvement.
"Frankly, I think the master did an excellent job in replicating many of our suggestions as Senate Republicans. We believe in keeping counties whole, maintaining communities of interest," said Republican State Senator Michael Nozzolio.
Albany is notorious for last-minute deal-making among the Legislature's leadership. But complicating matters on this issue is Governor Andrew Cuomo's insistence on a new process, specifically an independent commission to draw the lines. Without it, he has vowed to veto any deal.
Lawmakers are trying to reach a grand bargain that includes not only congressional lines, but also State Senate and Assembly lines.
"It'd be more difficult for the governor to veto lines that include that include congressional lines with Senate and Assembly lines," said Brooklyn Senator Martin Dilan, a Democrat.
If a deal materializes, those involved in the process say it would have to happen by the end of the week.
"We should know by Friday. And if anything is going to happen, it would be next Monday. And we should see a bill that would start aging by Friday, if there is going to be any agreement," said Dilan.
Ultimately, as the governor has pointed out several times, the constitution gives the legislature the power to draw their own lines. Publicly, people say they want an independent process, but it is unclear what kind of incentive Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature have to completely cede that authority.