Delegation Fears Invasion Of Neighboring Politicians

Battle Lines Over Legislative Redistricting Taking Shape

June 27, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

The county delegation is bracing to repel political invasions from Baltimore City and Prince George's counties.

Afraid especially thata population-depleted Baltimore City needs to reach outside of its borders for enough constituents to remain a powerhouse in the state legislature, Anne Arundel's delegation is maneuvering to make sure the city doesn't grab for Brooklyn Park.

"Knowing what's happening in Baltimore City with their population, they may want to encroach on us. I've heard rumors also that PrinceGeorge's may be looking our way. We want to be prepared," said county delegation chairman Michael Busch, D-Annapolis.

Busch polled 11 of the county's 13 state delegates Tuesday evening and the group was unanimously opposed to any plan to share a legislative district with Baltimore or Prince George's County. Nobody opposed continuing to share a district with rural Calvert County, he said, noting that Anne Arundel has more in common with Calvert than with the more urban jurisdictions.

Political district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to ensure that politicians represent equivalent districts. The changes do not effect the actual county boundaries.

The 1990 census figures show that Anne Arundel has been growing at virtually the same rate as the state for the past 10 years. Thus, its legislative districtswould not be required to change much -- if at all -- were it not forchanges in neighboring jurisdictions.

Baltimore City's populationshrunk substantially in the past decade, leaving it with only enoughresidents to qualify for 7.2 districts. The city is broken into ninedistricts, and shares none with its neighboring jurisdictions.

"Our attack would come from the north," said John Gary, R-Millersville."It's going to take coalitions to stop it. For instance, P.G. and Montgomery counties are going to want something. You know Montgomery wants to be the new powerhouse in the legislature. I think we're going to be ganging up on the city."

What frightens county delegates is that given the state's new "ideal" district size of 101,733 residents, Baltimore's southernmost legislative district -- the 47th -- needs about 20,000 constituents to round it out. The county just happens tohave an extra 20,000 constituents beyond the 407,000 needed for Districts 30 through 33.

At the moment, the county shares its extra population with Calvert and St. Mary's counties in District 29A.

An "attack" into Brooklyn Park by Baltimore City delegates would have a substantial ripple effect, Gary said, as boundaries of the county's other districts would have to be redrawn.

The ripples would rock county legislators' boats, forcing them to compete for new constituencies, maybe even moving them into each other's districts and forcing incumbents to face off against each other in 1994.

Besides, Gary says, it would be "damn difficult to wear two hats and represent both city and county interests."

Busch said he instructed the delegation's legislative assistant, Teresa Jennings, to lobby for the status quoat a public hearing on redistricting Tuesday night in Annapolis.

The state's redistricting committee -- comprised of Baltimore Attorney Benjamin J. Brown; Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr., D-Montgomery; House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell, Jr., D-Kent; Washington attorney Norman Glasgow and Delegate Donna Felling, D-Baltimore County -- will make its redistricting recommendations in August.

A special session of the assembly will meet in October to debate the plan, and then a bill requiring the governor's signature will be passed during the regular session next year.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.