ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Governor Larry Hogan today enacted a new congressional map for the state of Maryland after the defendants, through the Office of the Attorney General, agreed to withdraw their efforts to maintain the gerrymandered map that was struck down by the courts.
Following are excerpts from the governor’s comments after signing SB1012:
“The Speaker, the Senate President, and I just signed into law the new congressional maps, which were ordered to be redrawn by the court. This is something that we’ve been focused on for eight years. It’s a tremendous victory for democracy and for free and fair elections in Maryland.
“When these maps came out in December, I said they were unconstitutional and violated the law. The courts agreed, described it as extreme partisan gerrymandering, and a clear violation of the Constitution, ordered the legislature to go back and draw new maps, which they did. Now they weren’t, in my opinion, as good as the ones drawn by the citizen commission, and we shouldn’t have wasted so much time—but they are a huge improvement.
“It’s a huge victory. The plaintiffs agreed to drop their appeal. There was an attempt to say we will draw new maps, but we still want to go back to the gerrymandered unconstitutional maps and we’ll take it to another court. They decided to drop those attempts, and now it’s the law of the land.
“I want to just thank all of the people who participated in the citizens commission. I want to thank all the Republicans and Democrats who really were fighting for fair maps. I think gerrymandering is a cancer on our democracy—regardless of which party does it.
“A number of maps have been thrown out in other states around the country, Republican maps. This is the first time in the United States that a set of Democratic maps have been thrown out for the same reasons.”
On the legislative maps:
“I believe that Judge Wilner is supposed to come up with his preliminary findings. They appointed a special master— a retired judge—who has been doing all the fact finding, and I think he’s supposed to come out with his report tomorrow, and then the Court of Appeals still has to act on that. So we’re hopeful. Look, the exact same process was done in both cases: it was the backroom, in secret, behind closed doors by the Democratic caucus pushing through these maps that the same intent was to protect the incumbents and to maintain their large majorities. So I believe hopefully we’re going to be successful there, but it’s a whole different set of legal issues and a different court.”
On the legislative session:
“It’s been a pretty good week. We just passed $2 billion in tax cuts and I’ve been talking about the retirement tax cuts since 2014, and we were successful at that. I’ve been talking about trying to fix the broken process so that we can have free and fair elections and we stopped the gerrymandering which was described as the worst in America, and we’ve now done that to a certain extent, but I still want that bill passed. But we’ve gotten a lot done and I just want to thank—although we don’t always agree—we have in many cases come together with the leaders of both houses and gotten things done. We did it with the RELIEF Act last year. We did it with the retirement tax elimination this year and reluctantly, with the help of the court, we’ve also got them to move forward on the fair maps.”