Colorado Dems try to reach redistricting compromise
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Senate Democrats agreed to try again to reach a compromise on congressional redistricting after Republicans launched a filibuster on Tuesday and threatened to disrupt the rest of the session.
Democratic Senate President Brandon Shaffer said he would not be forced into a “blatantly gerrymandered map” but would look at a new proposal from Republicans in an effort to keep the last redistricting bill alive.
Shaffer said allegations from GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty that it was the Democrats’ plan all along to force redistricting into the courts were “just false.”
Democrats held hearings across the state to gather ammunition for a court battle, and joint press conferences with Democrats promising to come up with a bipartisan redistricting map were a charade, McNulty said.
“They were posturing to go to court the entire time,” he said.
In a confrontation with Senate Majority Leader John Morse on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Republican Minority Leader Mike Kopp said if the House bill wasn’t given a hearing, the filibuster will continue, dramatically slowing down work as lawmakers race to pass bills before the session ends Wednesday.
The filibuster began after the Senate passed a token plan to draw new congressional districts that has no chance of passage before the Legislature adjourns. If the House bill dies in the Senate, the issue will either require a costly special session or a lawsuit to settle the dispute.
Both sides said a special session would be futile unless either side is willing to make more concessions.
The House passed the measure on a 33-32 party line vote.
With the hours ticking down before the Legislature adjourns, Rep. Mark Waller, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said the GOP map in the House was the Legislature’s best option.
“It’s our charge in this General Assembly to pass congressional redistricting,” he said. “This is the only map that has come forward for a vote in the General Assembly.”
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper called a meeting with both sides to try to negotiate a compromise, but canceled it after members of the news media demanded access.
Congressional redistricting is required every 10 years following the census to ensure voter equality. It matters to voters because their representatives will make important decisions on health care, the federal budget, Medicaid and other issues that have embroiled members of Congress.
A decade ago, it took seven years and an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to get it done in Colorado.
During the last election, Republicans picked up two seats in Colorado, giving them a 4-3 majority, and Democrats would like new maps that provide help winning back some of those spots.
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