ANNAPOLIS -- House and Senate leaders are scheduled to continue talks today on a new Maryland congressional map as the legislature enters its third week of deadlock.
Both houses are scheduled to reconvene Tuesday.
"We are going to continue to negotiate over the weekend," said House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent.
"Hopefully by the beginning or middle of week we will have a finished product," he said.
But many other lawmakers doubt the impasse can be broken that soon.
Some say the deadlock will continue until pressure forces one of the legislative leaders to bend. Others say a whole new map could be drawn, and still others say a federal court may have to decide the new districts.
Although both chambers have agreed to a congressional map that would put Representatives Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th, and Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st, in one district, there is a 'u rock-solid difference over how to achieve that end. That difference is called Cecil County.
A Senate plan pushed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, would split Cecil County's 71,000 residents from the Eastern Shore and add them to a district for Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-1st, that also includes Harford County and portions of Baltimore County.
The bulk of the district would be located in Anne Arundel County -- which now makes up most of Mr. McMillen's district -- as opposed to the Eastern Shore. Such a move would conceivably give Mr. McMillen an advantage over Mr. Gilchrest, who represents the Shore.
But Mr. Mitchell, who also represents the Shore, doesn't want his region divided and would prefer that it have the population edge in electing a congressman.
Thursday, Mr. Miller and Mr. Mitchell met with Representatives Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, and Beverly B. Byron, D-Md.-6th, in an effort to work out a compromise. But the two state legislators stuck to their positions.
One option being discussed in the Senate would split Cecil and move Mr. McMillen into northern Anne Arundel and Baltimore.
Another way out, suggested by House Speaker Pro Tem Nancy K. Kopp, D-Montgomery, would leave Cecil as part of the Shore and switch Democratic areas from other districts to aid Mr. McMillen.