House kills plan to redraw districts: Republicans, Democrats disagree on shape of Senate, House districts

Bangor Daily News (ME) - Friday, April 30, 1993
The Maine House refused Thursday to pass a Democratic version of a plan to redraw Maine's political district lines, throwing the task into the hands of the state supreme court. 

The House's 60-46 vote was far less than the two-thirds vote of full membership the plan needed in order to take effect. 

Republicans and Democrats who negotiated realignments in Maine's legislative and congressional districts to reflect population shifts shown in the 1990 census had agreed on many portions of a redistricting plan. 

But they could not agree on how to shape most of the Senate districts, and remained at odds on nearly a third of the 151 House districts, mostly in northern Maine, said David Emery, a consultant to the GOP conferees. 

Before the final House vote Thursday, both sides did agree to send the court a map showing the districts where boundaries have been agreed. "It shows good faith to the court that there was an effort to get it done," said Emery. 

There was almost no debate before the final House vote. 

Earlier, the Senate approved by a narrow, party-line 18-15 vote a plan that the House had approved a day earlier. The Senate debate turned steamy amid charges of partisanship. 

Senators at times became entangled in parliamentary confusion over the amendments to the already complex proposal, causing brief delays. 

Auburn Democrat John Cleveland implored his colleagues to agree on a plan before Friday's deadline so they could avoiding the prospect of having the high court decide. 

"I hope we can find a way to do the people's business without having the courts do the work," said Cleveland. 

Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-Kittery, defended the plan approved by the Senate as the fairest, adding, "We tried to meet (Republicans') demands." 

On Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled House passed a version favored by the majority party, but it also lacked the two-thirds majority that was needed on the final vote for passage. 

A 15-member reapportionment commission failed to agree on a single plan, but the Democratic plan was put before the Legislature after the commission's neutral chairman cast a tie-breaking vote. 

The plan would retain a 35-member Senate in districts that would not pit any incumbent senators against each other. The House plan would maintain 151 districts, with six potential incumbent matchups. 

In the state's two congressional districts, some towns in Kennebec and Waldo counties would be shifted into northern Maine's 2nd District. Senators rejected a proposal to shift other communities in Knox and Kennebec counties between districts. 

The state Constitution requires Maine's political boundaries to be redrawn every 10 years to counter population shifts and ensure equal representation in the Legislature and Congress. 

The 1990 census showed the concentration of Mainers shifting from north to south, in general requiring fewer, larger districts in northern Maine and additional, more compact ones in the south.