The Baltimore County House delegation has tentatively approved a legislative redistricting plan that would create a single-member subdistrict along Liberty Road near the Baltimore Beltway and make possible the election in 1994 of the county's first black elected official.
The controversial plan, which passed on a 13-8 vote, now goes to the county's state Senate delegation, and then possibly to a conference committee before final approval and submission to the governor's advisory commission in October.
The General Assembly will make the final decision in 1992 when it tackles its own redistricting plan.
Redistricting is required to adjust district boundary lines to conform to population changes after each census. Because of dramatic growth in the northwestern county, blacks now make up 40 percent of the population of the 11th Legislative District. The district has yet to elect a black delegate, however.
Each legislative district has one senator, and most have three delegates. But the legislature has created single-delegate subdistricts in the past to ensure that smaller counties are represented when districts cross political boundaries.
Although the creation of a single-member sub-district with a 70 percent black population was a focus of debate yesterday, the real fight, between north county Republicans and the Democratic majority, appeared to be over which larger legislative district would contain the new subdistrict.
And the entire debate was set against a background of what Del. Kenneth H. Masters of Catonsville said were the main two objectives in the majority plan: to keep Baltimore City districts from spilling over the county lines, and to keep all incumbents in their current districts.
Several delegation members, including Democratic Dels. John S. Arnick of Dundalk and Ted Levin of Pikesville, joined Republican delegates in questioning the need for such a new district.
They asked for an opinion from the attorney general on the legal necessity for the district, and the delegation approved that request as a motion.
Delegation chairman E. Farrell Maddox said he believes the new district is needed to give the growing black community a voice.
The plan Maddox pushed through yesterday attaches the new district to the north county's 10th Legislative District. That would result in the three Republican incumbents now in the 10th having to vie for two seats, along with incumbent Democratic Del. Lawrence LaMotte.
North county Republican Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey failed to win approval for her alternative plan, which would create a two-member subdistrict in the majority black community and leave the three Democratic incumbents from Pikesville to compete for one remaining 11th Legislative District seat.
Sauerbrey vowed that if the plan approved yesterday wins final approval, it will be challenged in court.
Maddox said, "I'll be there to answer all the questions," and predicted the plan would survive a court test.