Senate Gives Preliminary Approval to New House Map
03/28/02 12:00AM By Bob Kinzel
(Host) The Senate on Wednesday afternoon gave its unanimous preliminary approval to a new reapportionment map for the House. There was no debate over the bill but some opposition may emerge when the measure comes up for final approval on Thursday.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Members of the Vermont Senate have voted to break a four decade old tradition concerning the reapportionment of the Legislature.
In the four previous cases of reapportionment in Vermont, the House and Senate have never tinkered with the map of the other chamber. But this year is first time that the House and Senate have been controlled by different political parties during the reapportionment process.
When the House passed its own reapportionment bill last month, Democrats in that chamber complained that the map was unfair because it pitted a number of incumbent Democrats against each other in newly created districts. Senate Reapportionment Chairman Dick Sears said his panel changed the House map because the House plan was simply too partisan:
(Sears) "We felt that we had no choice. The uproar in various communities around the state was just too loud to ignore. It's unfortunate that it turned out that way, I would have much preferred not to have to work on the House bill and just do our Senate work. But we just couldn't ignore that groundswell of opposition."
Senate Minority Leader John Bloomer voted for the bill as a member of the reapportionment committee. Bloomer says he would have preferred to leave the House map alone but he supported changes to keep the process on track:
(Bloomer) "And history says the House does the House and the Senate does the Senate and that's probably what we should be sticking by. Once you've started a road though, to making changes, you get involved in those you think are the most appropriate. I think that it would help us make a timely adjournment if we were able to stick to tradition, as say the House does the House and the Senate does the Senate. We've gone down a path or we've gone out to uncharted waters, unexplored waters and now we're going to have to see where they take us."
A number of senators say they may offer new amendments to the bill when it comes up for final approval on Thursday.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.