As expected, the Connecticut redistribution panel missed its Tuesday deadline to approve a new map for the state’s five congressional districts and asked the attorney general to seek a three-week extension from the Supreme Court of l ‘State.
The nine-member Reallocation Commission meets once every decade to adjust electoral districts to reflect changes in the state’s population. Earlier this month, the bipartisan group approved new maps for the Connecticut State House and Senate constituencies, but it has yet to address a map for its U.S. representatives.
“For lack of a better term, time is running out for us,” Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly said in a short meeting in the afternoon. “What we would like to do is just ask the Supreme Court if we could have a few more weeks.”
The panel voted unanimously to ask Attorney General William Tong to ask the court to extend his deadline until December 21. Although the target date for the panel is Tuesday, state law gives the group 30 days to go to court.
Panel members admitted last week that its final deadline was unachievable. Although the state’s census has remained roughly stable over the past decade, Connecticut has seen a significant shift in population from the rural eastern part of the state to the southwestern region, particularly in the fast growing town of Stamford.
The commission agreed on a map that moved an entire district from House to Fairfield County, among other changes, and a State Senate map that drew a third district to Stamford and made more subtle changes elsewhere.
Needing more time to accomplish its task in Congress, the committee is following in the footsteps of the panel 2011, who only came to a Congress card in February 2012 after the intervention of a court-ordered moderator called a special master.
Members of this year’s panel have praised the bipartisan process so far and said they do not foresee any dead ends. Parliamentary Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said delays linked to the pandemic had prevented them from starting a congressional card, no matter how hard it was.
“This situation is a bit unique in that we didn’t have the time to make the effort to negotiate a congressional card in good faith,” Candelora said.
House Speaker Matt Ritter said he was optimistic the group would agree on a map within days rather than weeks.
However, in some ways, the Congress map is more difficult to craft than its state counterparts. While a state Senate district is allowed to deviate from its 5% population target in either direction, the panel does not enjoy the same flexibility when creating Congressional districts, which must each contain approximately 721,000 people.
“Virtually no exemptions are allowed,” Senate Speaker Martin Looney said last week. “You have to hit the number almost exactly by district. So we should have almost exactly 721,000 people per district. “
This precision will require careful trimming of some neighborhoods while widening others. The commission will have to narrow down the 4th District, currently represented by US Representative Jim Himes, where Stamford alone has grown by nearly 13,000 people. Meanwhile, they will need to expand District 2, currently represented by U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, which already occupies most of the less populated eastern half of the state.
“It’s going to be a little tricky,” Kelly said last week. “We will have our work cut out for us, but I think we’ll get there. “