House co-speaker Jim Black had hoped to conclude the 2003 session by the weekend. It didn’t happen. Just like the moratorium on executions, and malp0ractice lawsuit reform. They did find time (and money) for a new state psychiatric hospital, and three more prisons. And they finally gaveled the “sine die,” the first time legislature’s been finished as early as July since 2000. I can hear that collective sign of relief from all of you.
But, lawmakers will have to return to Raleigh later this year for a special redistricting session—this, after the state supreme court invalidated the last round of redistricting. In fact, it has ruled the last three redistricting schemes invalid, i.e. unlawful. The root of the problem is that legislators draw the State Senate and House districts from which they are themselves elected. And their sole intention when drawing districts is to get themselves or their cronies re-elected, perpetually if possible.
Since gaining a seat in the Senate or House is a winner-take-all situation, you will see verbal scratching and clawing, and tooth-and-nail infighting of a world class. And, it will be a miracle if, when they come back later in the year to re-draw the districts, they do it in a way that will pass the court’s muster next time.