Lewis: Statewide judicial redistricting off the table this session

Rep. David Lewis

Rep. David Lewis

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) said Friday that he does not expect the legislature to move forward with plans for statewide judicial redistricting — nor does he expect a constitutional amendment for a merit selection plan.

He spoke to reporters after the House Select Committee on Elections passed redistricting measures affecting several counties including Mecklenburg, Wake, Onslow, Hoke and Stanly counties.

“Sometimes you don’t get the entire pie, you don’t get the entire blue ribbon if you will, but you get a good strong second place or second choice and I think that’s what this is,” Lewis said.

He added that there was an enormous amount of work put into statewide judicial redistricting, and that he thinks it needs to be done at some point, but another push likely wouldn’t come until after the next Census in 2020.

“I think the issue simply was timing,” he said. “Every advancement that was made, and there were a few advancements that were made, [there was] a lot of input from the public and input from legislators and stakeholders — ultimately, I think it was just impossible to get consensus at this time.”

Rep. Justin Burr

Rep. Justin Burr

Rep. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly), who has been the chief architect behind judicial redistricting plans unveiled over the past year, criticized piecemeal approaches since the creation of a unified court system but was OK with taking “smaller steps” via the bills passed Friday “rather than the big bite at the apple we’ve been pushing for.”

Senate Bill 757 splits up Wake and Mecklenburg district court districts, which means that those judges would no longer run for election in county-wide races. The plans do not double-bunk any judges but two seats are eliminated in one proposed Mecklenburg County district.

House Bill 1037 makes changes to superior and district court districts in Duplin, Jones, Sampson and Onslow counties, Hoke, Moore, Anson, Richmond and Scotland counties and Montgomery, Randolph and Stanly counties (Burr’s district).

There is a proposed committee substitute (PCS) pending in the Senate to the overall statewide judicial redistricting bill, HB717, but Lewis said it affects western districts and that lawmakers from the House and Senate are not in agreement, so it likely will fail.

The Senate does support the changes that the House committee passed Friday. SB757 and HB1037 have been placed on the House calendar Monday for a vote.

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