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Government

W.Va. House, Senate Committees Offer First Look At Redistricting Maps

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Perry Bennett
/
West Virginia Legislative Photography
Del. Caleb Hannah takes a look at proposed congressional redistricting maps on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Committees in both the West Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate took their first official look Thursday at maps that will inform redistricting plans.

Two main issues are driving this round of the once-each-decade process of redrawing district maps for congressional and state house races.

As a result of population loss noted in the 2020 census, West Virginia will move from three members in the U.S. House of Representatives to two. Additionally, the West Virginia House of Delegates will shift from 100 members spread across 67 districts to 100-single-member districts.

Lawmakers on the House Redistricting Committee got a first look at six different maps that aim to split the state’s nearly 1.8 million residents into two districts.

Among the maps were ideas from Del. Mick Bates and Del. Brandon Steele, both Republicans from Raleigh County. Thornton Cooper, an attorney from South Charleston who attended and spoke at numerous public hearings on redistricting, also submitted a map for consideration.

The House’s six congressional maps have a population variance — the difference in population between the proposed two districts. It ranges from 10 residents on one map to 1,808 on another.

Delegates also reviewed a plan for reworking their own districts. One notable shift under that proposal would change numbering — moving the 1st House District from the northern panhandle to McDowell County, with numbers ascending moving north. The proposal accounts for legislation passed in 2018 that will break the state’s map into 100 single-member districts.

In an afternoon meeting, senators began work discussing 12 proposed configurations for congressional redistricting.

Lawmakers on the panel discussed their hopes to keep similar communities and other geographical identities in the same congressional district. They also discussed significant growth in the state’s Eastern Panhandle versus sharp population losses in the southern part of the state — and how those trends may play out over the next decade.

Lawmakers from both panels will make recommendations to their respective bodies before sending the maps to a vote of their full chamber.

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan — who chairs the upper chambers redistricting committee — said Thursday he expects Gov. Jim Justice to call a special session on redistricting to coincide with already scheduled interim meetings slated for Oct. 10, 11 and 12.


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