Republicans leading North Carolina’s redistricting process announced today, at a joint meeting of the House and Senate committees charged with drawing districts, that preliminary proposed maps will be released no later than Monday, with the full versions for N.C. House, N.C. Senate and U.S. Congressional districts to be unveiled July 1.
They plan to hold a public hearing on the initial maps, which will focus on districts drawn to comply with the Voting Rights Act, June 23. They also say they will host a public hearing on the full maps July 7 before convening the committees on July 13, 14 and 15 and again on July 17 to go over what they hope will be the final maps. House Redistricting Committee Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett, says he hopes to reach approval by July 21.
But the joint meeting of the Senate and House Redistricting Committees, Democrats balked at the schedule and questioned how citizens can give helpful input in such a short timeframe.
After House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake, termed the process, “deliberative,” “sequential” and “welcome breath of fresh air, Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, fired back, “I personally don’t know where the fresh air is.”
“We’ve been here since January, we don’t have any maps, and we haven’t had any meaningful committee meetings. We have no criteria. It’s perfectly apparent that the maps are going to be drawn in secret by the majority,” he said.
“I would simply say that this process has been one that’s set up to look like a process but it’s not really a process at all.”
Though the committee held 36 public hearings across the state, critics point out that citizens did not have maps to comment on, hamstringing meaningful dialogue. Wednesday’s meeting was just the second that the committees have held.