The joint House and Senate Redistricting Committees will return tomorrow to adopt criteria for redrawing legislative maps to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.
The public meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. There will be a live audio stream available here.
The committees have already met jointly twice before — once to organize and a second time to hear public comment. The second meeting took place last week and the overwhelming majority of public members asked lawmakers to leave race and partisan considerations out of the mapmaking process.
Legislators have until Sept. 1 to submit new maps to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. If they fail to do so or if the maps don’t pass muster with the court, a three-judge panel could hire a special master to redraw the districts.
In a radio interview with NC Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon on Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) said he expects the Republicans will present significantly improved maps this time around.
“If for no other reason than I think Republicans are really scared that if they monkey around that the court is going to do what it’s said it will do, which is appoint a special master and take it out of their hands completely,” he said. “I think the only thing that’s scarier for the Republicans than drawing maps that are relatively fair is losing the power to draw them altogether.”
Jackson, who described himself as a longstanding proponent of independent redistricting, said the question will be how far will the Republicans go in complying with the court order”
“So far, we have seen no good faith, frankly,” he added.
Republican legislative leaders re-hired national GOP mapmaker Tom Hofeller to consult for them in the mapmaking process. Hofeller drew the maps in 2011 that were found to be racially gerrymandered in the first place.
According to The Insider, lawmakers are paying Hofeller a flat $50,000 fee for his services. You can read more about his contract here.