Lawmakers tasked with redrawing the state’s judicial districts released a draft proposal for the District Court, Superior Court and prosecutorial districts at a meeting Monday afternoon in Raleigh.
The proposals from the joint committee including members of the House and Senate are an amalgam of Senate proposed maps and the plan passed in the House last fall.
Though the proposals for the different court and prosecutorial maps are entitled “Option A” there are currently no subsequent options released yet.
While there was talk of a possible vote on new judicial districts this week lawmakers have backed away from that, saying that they don’t expect any votes this week coming from this additional special session.
The House adjourned session until Thursday at noon and Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) told the representatives that there would be a possible session on Friday, and next Monday and Tuesday.
In the Senate there will be a skeletal session Friday at 10 a.m. and no votes until at least a week.
The break gives observers time to digest the proposed maps while lawmakers work out a deal that satisfies both the House and Senate.
In committee Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) questioned why her county was split into three districts while other counties of similar population were not, concluding that it was for partisan reasons.
“I suspect it’s because all of these other counties vote Republican and mine votes Democrat,” she said.
The change would mark a shift in the way the Buncombe county judiciary is elected where currently judges are elected at large, and not by district.
Other Democrats questioned why the maps were not released with statistical information on the partisan breakdown of the proposed districts, which earlier versions included.
“I’ve never been in a redistricting committee where we were handed out maps and didn’t get a stat pack,” House Democratic Leader Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) said.
Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) responded saying that information could be requested from legislative staff.
But outside of the opposition from Democrats in the House and Senate, and House and Senate leaders pulling together a compromise plan is the looming question of moving to an appointment system of choosing judges.
Lewis, on Monday addressed that, giving an update on discussions surrounding the idea of appointing judges instead of selecting them, which would require a Constitutional amendment voted on by the people.
Lewis’ update was light on specifics but Lewis was clear that the topic is still very much in discussion in the state.
If legislators end up making major changes to the court districts, or how judges are selected, it would be the first major change to the judiciary since 1955.