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March 28. 2012 12:53PM

House overrides governor's redistricting plan veto

CONCORD —The House overrode Gov. John Lynch’s veto of its plan redrawing the political boundaries of House seats to conform with the 2010 census on a 246-112 vote, which was 8 votes more than needed for a two-thirds majority.

Democrats and plan opponents cried foul when House Speaker William O’Brien called for the override vote although the governor’s veto message was not published in the House calendar for Wednesday’s session. Lynch vetoed the bill Friday afternoon.

The controversial plan pairs city wards in Manchester and Concord with surrounding towns for some districts and combines towns like Pelham and Windham to form districts when opponents said each towns should be a separate district.

Lynch noted in his veto message that the plan does not follow a 2006 constitutional amendment that provides towns and wards have their own representatives if they have the population to warrant it.

Plan opponents agreed with Lynch when he said House Bill 592 “violates the constitutional principle for equal representation and local representation.”

After the vote, Lynch said he still believes the House version of redistricting is unconstitutional.

“Towns should be able to elect their own representatives,” he said, and noted he has received support for this position from the Manchester mayor and Board of Alderman.

Lynch said his veto of the House version “was the right thing to do” During debate, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, urged lawmakers to sustain the governor’s veto saying that would be the only way to fix the plan.

“A lot of people in my party have been told if they do not override, the court will come up with a redistricting plan,” he said. “That is simply not true. The court does not want to draw up a plan.”

Vaillancourt and the other members of the Manchester delegation had vowed to sustain the governor’s veto of the plan, which combines wards 8 and 9 with Litchfield for four House seats.

However, several Republican members of the delegation voted to override the veto, and eight members of the delegation were absent and did not vote on the override.

But override supporters argued the plan was a compromise that addressed the 2006 constitutional amendment and the U.S. constitutional provision of one man, one vote as best it could.

House redistricting committee chair Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, told House members “The idea you leave this room and have a magical new plan developed — I can tell you after all these months — that is not going to happen.”

He and others urged the House to override so they could meet the June deadline for filing for House seats.

O’Brien brought the override vote forward after a half-hour Republican caucus he called Wednesday morning during the session. He ruled Democrat’s request for a 15-minute caucus after the House was back in session was out of order.


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