After more than a week of tense back-and-forth among lawmakers and an angry public hearing, the legislature voted this afternoon to approve new legislative district maps.
Lawmakers were ordered to redraw the maps after the Supreme Court sided with a lower court ruling that 28 of the state's 170 legislative districts were illegally racially gerrymandered. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have spent the better part of the past week sparring over the proposed maps drawn by the GOP-led House and Senate Committees on Redistricting, and the House and Senate voted largely along party lines this afternoon to approve each other's maps.
The new maps will be sent to the same panel of judges that threw out the more than two dozen legislative districts and set a September 1 deadline for the legislature
to redraw the maps. The judges will be presented with the new maps for review; if they don't believe they correct the gerrymander, they can redo the maps themselves or send them to outside experts to draw.
If the judges do approve the maps, Republicans will likely be able to hold onto their supermajority in the legislature even with the new districts. Under the new maps, according to an analysis
by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, Republicans need to secure just 46 percent of the vote to hold onto their majority in the House, while Democrats need to win 55 percent of the vote.