With a special legislative session fast approaching, a controversial plan to redraw Maryland's congressional map is headed for changes.
The five-member gubernatorial advisory committee, which released its plan last month to a chorus of grumbles, is expected to alter its proposed 1st District map to include the Dundalk and Essex areas of Baltimore County and offer Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3rd, some additional city neighborhoods in his district, said a committee member and others close to the once-a-decade process.
Other possible changes being discussed are:
* Returning portions of Howard County to Mr. Cardin's district.
* Swapping areas in Howard County for ones in Montgomery County in the proposed district drawn for Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, a House leader and Appropriations Committee member.
Meanwhile, state legislators are jumping into the fray, preparing their own versions of how the new districts should be carved out. These competing maps are being drafted in preparation for a General Assembly special session scheduled Sept. 25. A 60 percent majority in both houses is needed to approve a plan.
The new districts would go into effect for the primary next March and last for a decade.
Among numerous proposals is one that would pit Mr. Cardin against Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, and another that would put Representative Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th, and Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st, in the same district.
State lawmakers have until 5 p.m. today to request redistricting bills. All proposed legislation must be filed by next Friday.
The gubernatorial committee's plan created a bipartisan furor when it was released last month. Opponents lashed out at the recommendation to place two Republicans, Representatives Bentley and Gilchrest, in one district, carve Baltimore County among five districts and create a district stretching from Garrett County to the Susquehanna River.
But committee members defended what one of them called a "people's plan," saying it preserved Democratic districts and kept two regions of the state -- the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland -- intact. Creating a majority-black district in the Washington suburbs and another district for Mr. Hoyer -- the first a legal necessity and the second a political reality -- necessarily meant that two congressmen would have to double-up in one district, committee members said.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who called his committee's plan "unfair" and vowed to veto it, has signaled his belief that the Baltimore port area should be retained by Mrs. Bentley, its ardent champion in Congress. The committee divided the port between Representatives Cardin and McMillen.
"I think things are moving in a very positive direction," said an aide to the governor. "Things are changing hourly."
Some committee members and other political observers believe that adding the Essex and Dundalk areas to the 1st District would all but lock Mrs. Bentley into running against Mr. Gilchrest.
Mrs. Bentley is on record as preferring not to run in such a district -- even with the port area included.