CHARLESTON – Despite landing on a senatorial redistribution map proposal on Monday, the West Virginia Senate has continuously postponed a vote on its plan, with members divided over an amendment that would divide several counties and cities.
Senate Bill 3034, the bill that will redraw the map of 17 senatorial constituencies, was tabled on Thursday day, putting it at third reading with the right to amend today. It was the second time that the bill had been introduced.
The nine-member Senate Redistribution Committee recommended a map drafted by committee chairman Charles Trump, R-Mineral, at his Monday meeting. This map kept many of the lines the same, altering them based on population growth and population changes between the 2010 and 2020 census reports.
Called Trump # 8, the map gives Monongalia County its first two-member district located only within its county limits. It also only divides seven counties, focusing more on keeping districts compact and equal in population.
During that meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mike Woelfel D-Cabell warned of yet another Senate card being purchased from members who have divided Cabell County into two districts. Rumors of this map spread throughout the week, but the map itself didn’t appear on the Senate Redistribution Committee webpage until Wednesday evening.
The map has since been dubbed the Karnes / Tarr map, named after state senators Robert Karnes, R-Randolph, and Eric Tarr, R-Putnam. Instead of dividing seven counties, the Karnes / Tarr map divides up to 14 counties, including Cabell. It divides roughly the same number of municipalities.
It also brings together counties that have never been together, combining part of Cabell County with Lincoln County, combining Logan and Boone counties with the southern half of Kanawha County, and connecting Clay County with County of Mercer via Nicholas, Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers. counties.
When asked about the card on Thursday, Karnes neither confirmed nor denied ownership of the card, calling it a product of the Senate Republican caucus.
“We have certainly worked on it several times within our caucus”, Karnes said. âThat’s one of the reasons I think we all feel like maybe we are a day late. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a caucus map andâ¦ I haven’t contributed more to it than anyone, I don’t think so.
Senate Redistribution Committee co-chair Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, attributed the delays in passing the bill to the fact that Republican and Democratic senators have time to consider both maps and make a decision .
“Part of the delay is intentionally intended to allow the minority – and for that matter, the majority caucus – to review the cards,” he added. Sypolt said. “President Trump has publicly stated on more than one occasion that there are nine members of the redistribution committee here, which is only a small fraction of the entire body … I think it was very important for President Trump, especially for me too, to make sure the whole body has a chance to weigh in because you’re not going to find a utopian map. It just doesn’t exist.
Senatorial Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin D-Greenbrier said the process was the reverse of transparency, calling the process “broken.” Baldwin said the new map should have been presented a week ago to give the public and lawmakers more time to review it or submit alternatives to the Karnes / Tarr map.
âWe’ve had a process for the last couple of months, and now all of a sudden we have before us this potential card that hasn’t gone through the process. “ Baldwin said. âIt was not submitted to the committee. He was not heard by the committee. It has not been the subject of public comment. It was apparently presented in caucus and then presented to everyone. “
Karnes defended the map, which was developed to be different from the map drawn 10 years ago by the previous Democratic majority in the Senate. Karnes said the map amendment pays more attention to where people go rather than where people live.
“This is the first time that the Republicans have carried out a redistribution in almost 100 years”, Karnes said. âIf you think of the directions that people looked at as being sort of the center of their community, it’s not towards the center of the county. It is actually in cities and in other countries. I think we’re just going through this process. It’s kind of not having done it in a hundred years, regaining some of that understanding, yeah, it breaks more counties, but it actually makes more sense. And maybe it’s more compact.
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]