December 30, 2011 in News

Dispute over Hispanic voters holding up new legislative map

Associated Press
 

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington’s redistricting commission made little progress Friday in its quest to redraw the state’s legislative districts, leaving just two days to finish the work after months of negotiations.

Members of the panel said they would work into the weekend since they face a New Year’s Day deadline. The stalemate on the legislative maps — with a dispute over how to allocate Hispanics in the Yakima area — threatened to disrupt work on the congressional side.

Republican appointee Tom Huff said the legislative and congressional proposals needed to be finished in tandem.

“It’s two or nothing. It’s as simple as that,” Huff said.

The panel is comprised of two Democratic appointees and two Republican ones. At least three of the members must agree to the boundaries or else the process is sent to the state Supreme Court.

While there are issues left to solve, commissioners are particularly focused on the Yakima-area legislative districts. Huff has supported having a majority-Hispanic seat, but the Democratic members contend that their maps unnecessarily spread Hispanics too thin.

Huff accused the Democrats of politicizing the process, and moved to endorse a plan that he said Democratic commissioner Dean Foster had proposed. But Foster voted to reject it, saying it was not a plan he officially endorsed but was just one iteration of dozens of maps that the negotiators had examined.

Commissioners did not have specific plans to resolve their disagreements but said they would meet Saturday to discuss proposals.

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