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Redistricting heads to court

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Albany/HV: Redistricting heads to court
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The new State Senate and Assembly lines are heading for the courts after Senate Democrats file a lawsuit challenging how they were drawn. Our Nick Reisman has the story.

NEW YORK STATE -- The contentious redistricting process is moving to the courts. Senate Democrats filed suit Tuesday against legislative boundaries drawn by Senate Republicans they say don't follow the law. In particular, the Democrats take aim a proposed new Senate district carved out of the Albany area.

“Thank God we have a court process that passes judgment on these things because we're confident it's going to be overturned. It's ridiculous,” said State Senator Mike Gianaris.

The state must redraw legislative boundaries for House, State Senate and Assembly lines every decade based on the latest Census data. Lawmakers control the process and often draw the lines to keep incumbents in power. Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto to the lines as they're drawn now.

“I don't believe this has been a partisan redistricting process. This has been a process that has many reviews to it,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Senate Democrats disagree. Stuck in the minority, they stand to benefit from an independent process this year. And they say any potential deal on redistricting coupled with a Constitutional amendment that wouldn't take effect for years isn't the way to go.

Gianaris said, “The idea that we would accept a bad plan this year, even a slightly modified plan off the horrific plan that we saw last week for future consideration ten years down the road is not real reform.”

Complicating this year's process is a court ruling that moves the Congressional primary election to June 26. That sets up the possibility of three primaries, including one for the April GOP presidential primary and the state primary in September. It's a costly prospect for local governments, but Senate Republicans continue to push for an August primary.

“Again, it's not my druthers. Certainly there will be at least two -- the presidential primary. But my position is and it has been that August is more appropriate,” Skelos said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says there have been some talks on changing the state's primary date and also wants to avoid the three primaries scenario.

Silver said, “I would like to see all of them at least the state and federal on June 26.”

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