The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

Redistricting Compromise Passes N.C. House

The Democratic congressional redistricting plan, which could help determine U.S. representative districts, was introduced on the floor after it passed the House redistricting committee by a 26-11 committee vote earlier in the day.

The plan received support from a coalition that consisted of the majority of the Democrats in the chamber and 14 House Republicans.

A second House vote is required before the congressional redistricting plan moves to the N.C. Senate. The vote is scheduled to take place Thursday.

Both chambers have to approve identical plans before the proposal can become law.

Rep. Mary Jarrell, D-Guilford, said she expects Wednesday's results to be upheld in the second vote.

"People's minds are made up, and that's usually how they vote," Jarrell said.

Rep. Stanley Fox, D-Granville, also said he does not expect the number of those in favor of the current plan to change significantly.

Fox said the current plan is a product of compromise on the part of both Democrats and Republicans. He said tension in committee between the two parties was minimal and that he felt all members had an equal opportunity to contribute to discussion.

"The debate was open in committee, and everybody got a chance to put in amendments, to debate and to discuss," Fox said.

Several amendments were offered in committee, one of which was included in the plan voted on by the House on Wednesday. No amendments were proposed on the floor.

Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said representatives who proposed different plans in committee seemed fairly satisfied with the final plan during the House vote. But she said some Republicans spoke out against the plan during floor debate.

Insko said partisanship factored into the debate and representatives were interested in protecting their parties' congressional seats.

"Redistricting is always somewhat of a partisan political process," she said.

Insko said that despite partisan alignment, Wednesday's debate and vote went smoothly. She said she thinks the current map provides fair representation for both Democrats and Republicans.

Under the plan, seven districts would be majority Democrat and six would be majority Republican. The current N.C. delegation consists of seven Republican and five Democrat districts.

"I think it's a good plan," Insko said. "Looking at the map, the districts look reasonable."

Insko said she thinks minorities also will be well represented under the proposed redistricting plan and there is an opportunity for minorities to be elected in several districts. But she said some representatives felt an additional district should be drawn to be minority influenced.

Congressional redistricting committee Co-chairman Rep. Ed McMahan, R-Mecklenburg, said the map is not perfect but will provide fair representation for North Carolinians. He voted for the plan in committee and session. "I supported the plan and worked to garner other Republican support for the plan."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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