By Stefani Zenteno Rivadineira
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed six redistricting bills, saying they would weaken citizens’ trust in government.
Speaking on 1140AM WRVA, McAuliffe questioned the constitutionality of the bills, which sought to adjust the lines for about 20 legislative districts in seven counties.
The six vetoed bills are:
- SB 1237, affecting Senate Districts 17 and 25 in Albemarle County
- SB 1084, affecting Senate Districts 13 and 33 and House Districts 10, 32, 33, 67 and 87 in Loudoun County
- SB 986, affecting Senate Districts 17 and 22 in Louisa County
- HB 1699, affecting House Districts 25 and 26 in Rockingham County
- HB 1417, affecting House Districts 7, 8 and 12 in Montgomery County
- HB 1332, affecting House Districts 5 and 6 in Smyth County and House Districts 42 and 43 in Fairfax County
McAuliffe said that under the Virginia Constitution, the General Assembly is supposed to redraw electoral districts once every 10 years – after the decennial census. A recent Richmond Circuit Court decision “raises serious concerns” about whether the redistricting bills are constitutional, he said.
The legislation “sets a terrible precedent,” the Democratic governor said.
“Allowing the legislature to make substantive changes to electoral districts more frequently than once a decade injects further partisanship into a process that I regard as already too partisan. Annual legislative arguments over redistricting and gerrymandering distract the Commonwealth from the serious challenges we face, as well as undermine the trust of our citizens in their government.
“Accordingly, I veto this bill.”
All six bills were sponsored by GOP lawmakers. Republicans said the bills were minor technical adjustments to current boundaries.
Redistricting has been a contentious issue in Virginia. A lawsuit filed in December by a law firm with ties to the Democratic Party argues that state Republicans illegally packed black voters into a dozen House districts when it drew new district lines in 2011.
This story is for subscribers to VCU’s Capital News Service. If you have questions or comments, contact Jeff South at email@example.com or 804-827-0253 or your CNS reporter.