Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

West Virginia lawmakers OK redistrict maps amid criticism

  • 0
West Virginia lawmakers OK redistrict maps amid criticism

FILE - This Aug. 20, 2018 file photo, Republican state Sen. Charles S. Trump outlines proposed procedural rules during a special session to begin impeachment proceedings against state Supreme Court justices at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. Trump is the chairman of the Senate redistricting committee, which has worked on proposed maps to redraw West Virginia’s congressional, Senate and House of Delegates districts following the 2020 Census.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s House of Delegates passed its redistricting map Wednesday amid sharp criticism from Democrats that the new single-member district system for all 100 delegates was weighted heavily in favor of supermajority Republicans.

Based on the 2020 census, the House map is going through wholesale changes from a decade ago because seats are being apportioned into single-member districts after passage of a 2018 bill. Currently, there are 67 districts and more than half of the House is elected from multiple-member districts.

The House version passed 79-20 with one member not voting. It now goes to the state Senate.

"We have taken care to keep counties and municipalities as whole as possible where it's been requested," said Mineral County Republican Gary Howell, the House redistricting committee chairman.

Every amendment offered by Democrats to make changes in proposed district lines was rejected Wednesday along party lines.

Fayette County Republican Tom Fast said the redistricting committee was transparent in its work and more than a dozen hearings were held across the state to receive public input, to which Kanawha County Democrat Jim Barach replied, “Just because we had the hearings doesn’t mean the map follows that.”

For instance, the House map would split Wetzel County into four districts and place incumbent Democrats Dave Pethtel and Lisa Zukoff, currently one district apart, into the same district.

“I knew that was my sign to retire and I would not seek reelection in 2022,” said Pethtel, who was first elected to the House in 1988.

Kanawha County Democrat Mike Pushkin said he voted in 2018 for the single-member district bill, but this isn’t what he envisioned.

“I'd really like to know who we have consulted in drawing this map,” he said. "What we have before us is a gerrymandered mess. If your goal is to protect political power well into the future, it was done quite well.”

Hancock County Republican Mark Zatezalo said he was shocked when he reviewed the House district boundaries that were proposed in 2010 when the Legislature was in control of Democrats. In the 2014 election, the GOP gained control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 80 years.

“If you’re that party or we are that party now, or whoever draws these boundaries or wins the battle of how these boundaries are drawn, we’re going to have to do our job," Zatezalo said. “Or, I don’t care where the boundaries are, I don’t care what lines you have and I don’t care how comfortable you are, you will lose.”

Kanawha County Democrat Larry Rowe said West Virginia needs to look at what other states have done to take redistricting out of legislators’ hands.

“This needs to be done by an independent commission,” Rowe said. “We shouldn’t be redistricting ourselves. It should not be incumbent driven. It should be driven by communities of interest. The constitution says that we need to respect county lines. A lot of us are going to have a lot of trouble trying to explain the ziggy-zaggy districts that we are creating in this bill.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states give the primary responsibility for legislative redistricting to a commission.

After the 2020 census, West Virginia lost one of its three U.S. House seats. On Wednesday, the state Senate voted 30-2 to approve a map to redraw the state into two congressional districts. Two senators did not participate. The House advanced its congressional map to a second reading Thursday.

Both the Senate and House versions would place U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney in the same northern district, while Rep. Carol Miller would be in the southern district. All three are Republicans.

The Senate postponed a third reading on its own 17-district redistricting bill until Thursday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the facts:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A commission tasked with studying potential changes to the Supreme Court released a first look Thursday night at its review, a draft report that is cautious in discussing proposals for expanding the court but also speaks approvingly of term limits for justices.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rising inflation has triggered a sizable increase in Social Security's annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2022. The Social Security Administration announced the 5.9% COLA on Wednesday after a Labor Department report on inflation during September.

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers who must draw new district lines for all 200 state House and Senate seats unveiled new proposed maps Tuesday that they said would help strengthen the political clout of Black, Hispanic and minority voters.

Audelia Molina, a Mexican immigrant, was earning 10 cents for every garment she trimmed at a factory in Los Angeles, America’s clothing-assembly capital. Her wage was so meager that she started putting in 11-hour days to drive up production. When she asked for a raise, a supervisor denied her request, so she quit in July 2017 — and turned to a labor-rights attorney to help her file an unpaid-wage complaint with the California Labor Commissioner.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday defended her administration's handling of her daughter's application for a real estate appraiser license, attempting to brush aside questions about a meeting she held last year that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and the state employee who was overseeing her application.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a short-term increase to the nation's debt limit, ensuring the federal government can continue fully paying its bills into December and temporarily averting an unprecedented default that would have decimated the economy.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News