Tag Archives: Reapportionment

Senate Reapportionment, a.k.a. The Incumbency Protection Act of 2022

Random Unrelated Illustration

If there was ever any doubt that the state Senate is a club unto itself, well, a close look at the chamber’s likely reapportionment map will make things perfectly clear.

First, the circumstances: After weeks and weeks of vaguely-defined “discussion,” the committee burped out its map in a 26-minute-long hearing on Thursday. Seriously, before Thursday, the agenda for each of its previous 13 meetings merely said “Committee Discussion.” At least they were open hearings, I guess.

According to VTDigger, the hearing was not warned in advance as required by law, and the map wasn’t made public until after the hearing. A procedural fail to be sure, and a worrying one by a committee chaired by Sen. Jeanette White, who chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee. You know — the one that deals with open meetings and public records laws?

Aside from process flaws, the map itself is problematic in many ways. At virtually every turn, it bows the knee to incumbency — even when doing so is a setback for the Democratic Party. You know, the party that allegedly controls the process?

If this map is enacted, it will be harder for the Democrats to keep their Senate supermajority. It will help Republicans pick up some ground, but maybe not right away; and the new Chittenden County map is the best thing to happen to the Progressive Party since David Zuckerman became lieutenant governor. (It also gives the Republicans a real shot at a Chittenden seat for the first time since Diane Snelling left the chamber.)

The newly created, three-seat Chittenden Central district includes Winooski and part of Burlington. It seems custom-made to give the Progs a real shot at winning all three seats.

Looking at the committee lineup, this may have been a case of Prog/Dem Sen. Chris Pearson pulling one over on sleepy Democrats’ eyes. He was the only member from Chittenden County, which is weird in itself. There were four Dems on the committee: the barely-there Jeanette White, the almost-a-Republican Bobby Starr, everybody’s friend Alison Clarkson, and quiet second-termer Andrew Perchlik. The two Republicans were part-time Vermonter Brian Collamore and the politically savvy Randy Brock. In sheer political terms, Pearson and Brock could run rings around the other five.

And it sure looks like they did just that.

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Performative Lamentation on Reapportionment

The Vermont Legislature is in the middle of the reapportionment process, the redrawing of legislative districts that occurs every ten years. By the time you read this, the House Government Operations Committee may have given initial approval to a draft redistricting plan. It’s only the first step in a lengthy process, and nothing will be finalized for some time yet. But that hasn’t kept Republicans from whingeing about how majority Democrats are rigging the system to ensure another decade in power.

Sen. Corey Parent is out with an opinion piece calling the process “unnecessarily rushed” and “outrageous.” David Flemming of the Ethan Allen Institute notes that Vermont is at high risk of partisan gerrymandering. GovOps Committee Republicans reportedly favor a redistricting map that’s being sidelined by majority Dems.

And you know what? I don’t want to hear it from any Republican. The GOP is the reigning champion of the gerrymandering game. Vermont Democrats are not going to do anything nearly as perfidious as the legislatures in, say Ohio or Texas or Florida. The only reason Vermont Republicans are complaining is that they’re in the minority. If they were in power, they’d throw principle out the window in service of protecting their advantage.

Besides, the courts have approved all but the most extreme gerrymandering. It’s officially fair game, right? Well, only if you’re the victim, not the perpetrator.

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