Home>Highlight>Sweeney won’t rule out redistricting, but no plan to do it in lame duck

Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Photo: by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Sweeney won’t rule out redistricting, but no plan to do it in lame duck

By Nikita Biryukov, December 12 2019 4:54 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney said he’s not actively planning to push redistricting reform during lame duck session, but he declined to rule it out.

“I don’t like ruling things out,” Sweeney said. “But I can tell you, right now, it’s not on my agenda.”

Last year, Democrats in the legislature attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that opponents said would gerrymander the state in Democrats favor.

That measure would have required the state’s competitive districts to be drawn according to a fairness formula based on statewide election results over the past 10 years.

Republicans haven’t won a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey since 1972, and they’ve lost every presidential election here since President George H.W. Bush carried the state in 1988.

That amendment died after considerable backlash from Republicans, good government groups and progressives, including Gov. Phil Murphy.

If he and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin take a second shot at a similar redistricting measure, they’ve little time left.

To get on the ballot, lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature must pass the measure with a simple majority in two consecutive years or with a 60% majority in a single year.

Before an amendment gets to a vote, it must sit on legislators’ desks for 20 days and be the subject of a single public hearing in either chamber.

“I just don’t think it’s enough time,” Sweeney said.

If lawmakers introduce a redistricting measure next week, they wouldn’t be able to vote on it until January, though they’d have roughly a week to move the measure before the legislative year ends at noon on Jan. 14.

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