CARSON CITY — Legislative committees on Saturday voted along party lines to adopt the Democrats’ plan to redivide Assembly, state Senate and congressional districts.
After a 15-minute hearing, Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee members approved Assembly Bill 566 after adopting an amendment to redraw a state Senate district in Washoe County that includes Sen. Don Gustavson’s new home.
Then five hours later, the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee approved Senate Bill 497, containing the same language and Gustavson amendment.
Gustavson, R-Sparks, recently moved to an address outside of the boundaries of his proposed new district, according to legislative staff.
In redistricting, one of the chief goals of legislators of both parties is to protect the seats of current legislators.
The Democratic plan was approved over the objections of Republicans, who predicted that ultimately the courts would have to settle disagreements between the parties over redistricting, which is required under law to equalize populations in districts.
The votes approving the Democrats’ plan were not unexpected since they hold a 26-16 advantage in the Assembly, an 11-10 lead in the state Senate and majorities in both committees.
But Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, raised objections because a Senate bill containing the Republican plan for redistricting had not even been drawn up for consideration.
Democrats agreed to draw up a Senate bill at her request, but upset Cegavske by then passing their own plan.
The only suspense in coming weeks now will be whether Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval believes AB566 is fair enough for Republicans that he won’t exercise his veto.
Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said following the vote Saturday that he expects redistricting ultimately will be decided in court.
“They didn’t consider our bill,” he said. “We expect their bill will pass through the Senate and Assembly, and then be vetoed. When it comes back, the veto will be sustained.”
He doubts that either party will give serious consideration to compromise, and the matter will end up in court.
In the Democratic plan, 29 of the 42 Assembly districts have more Democrats than Republicans, along with in 14 of the 21 districts in the state Senate.
In the Republican plan, 28 of the 42 Assembly districts and 14 of the 21 state Senate districts have more Democrats than Republicans.
Democrats have a 64,000 advantage in statewide voter registration.
During the Saturday meeting, Las Vegas lawyer Vincenta Montoya, representing a Hispanic Democratic group, complained that both Democrats’ and Republicans’ redistricting plans for congressional districts are “seriously deficient.”
Citing the federal Voting Rights Act, Montoya said that “communities of interest” must be taken into consideration by lawmakers in creating districts.
But Goicoechea questioned her criticism.
Under the Republican plan, Nevada’s new 4th Congressional District, centered in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, would have a 50.7 percent Hispanic population.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.