Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Speaker: redistricting likely to come up today, has been “very uncomfortable”
The House is likely to take up the Senate Republicans’ redistricting plan today, but House Speaker Bill Howell isn’t revealing how he’ll rule on it.
“You’ll have to wait till 12:15,” Howell said this morning.
He did say he thinks the bill will come up for a vote today, after several days of it being passed by, and said the internal debates over how he will rule have been difficult.
“It’s been a very serious, very uncomfortable position,” Howell said.
The Senate Republicans took Capitol Square by surprise a few weeks ago, waiting until one Senate Democrat was absent in the evenly-split chamber to introduce and pass an amendment that would redraw all 40 Senate districts, creating a new majority-black district in Southside.
Democrats were furious and said it was unconstitutional to try to redraw districts outside of the every-ten-years norm.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said he was taken by surprise by the plan, like most others, but has declined to say whether he’d veto it.
In the meantime the bill has been sitting in the House, awaiting action. Howell, as speaker, has the power to rule the Senate Republicans’ amendment — which is to a House bill — not germane to the bill. That would essentially kill the redistricting proposal.
The House convenes today at noon.