CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Legislature is back for a special session this week.
The main purpose is to pass the redistricting that will change the Congressional, as well as House of Delegate and State Senate boundaries.
The House Redistricting Committee has already passed a map creating 100 single members districts in the state. Democrats believe it will pit some of their members against each other in primaries. Republicans say that’s not their intent.
“We do have some members who have been put into the same district. We feel like in a few of those districts especially, there were options where that wasn’t necessary,” said Del. John Williams, (D) Monongalia.
“So I reject that categorically. So, we don’t have many incumbent members running against each other period, around the state.. we’ve had an awful lot of input given to us both from members and from the public,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, (R) Clay.
The redistricting committees in the House and the Senate must also divide the three current Congressional districts into just two districts, as the state lost more than 60-thousands residents between the 2010 and 2020 census. There is another big difference. This time Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers, a role reversal from when Democrats ruled the state for decades.
“Once we had those public hearings ahead of time, we tried to incorporate as much as we could, that the public wanted into the maps,” said Del. Gary Howell, (R) Mineral – Redistricting Chairman.
“It’s a political process no matter how you slice it. Obviously, the majority makes the final decisions, but well see what they come up with,” said Del. Brent Boggs, (D) Braxton.
The Legislature must also appropriate hundreds of millions of federal dollars, some of it for pandemic relief.
As with any piece of legislation, the redistricting must pass with the same language and the same maps, in the House and in the Senate, before it can become law. As always, there is the possibility of a court challenge.