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Afternoon Read: Redistricting Plan Signed, Lawsuit Still Pending

Governor signs off on controversial plan

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Afternoon Read: Redistricting Plans & Lawsuits

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Both supporters and opponents of the Republican redistricting plan in Virginia technically scored a win today.

A judge struck down a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that would force the courts to draw new congressional districts for the state.

Hours later, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the redistricting plan into law.

Filed by six Virginia voters, the pending lawsuit, according to The Washington Post, asked state and federal courts to draw a new congressional map for 2012, saying the General Assembly violated the state’s constitution by not establishing a new redistricting map last year.

But McDonnell signed it anyway today, and said he had consulted with the Attorney General’s office.

The redistricting map narrowly passed the legislature last week with a 20-19 vote along party lines. Democrats called the redistricting map unconstitutional, claiming it disenfranchises African Americans by placing too many of them in one district.

The Richmond Time-Dispatch reported Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s response to the judge’s ruling today:

“Given the impending elections and deadlines associated with the federal Voting Rights Act, my office is seeking immediate intervention by the Supreme Court of Virginia,” said Cuccinelli. “We are filing a writ of prohibition, seeking a ruling that the circuit court’s ruling exceeds its jurisdiction. We are also seeking an immediate appeal of the order and a stay of further proceedings in the circuit court until the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled.

* Prince George's County lawmakers introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would immediately force public officials out of office once they have been convicted of a felony.

Currently a loophole in the law allows convicted felons to stay in office until they go to jail, according to The Washington Post.

Just last year, for instance, Prince George's council member Leslie Johnson remained in office for nearly a month after she pleaded guilty in a federal corruption probe.

The Post reports that the bill would propose an amendment to the state constitution, pending voter approval in a referendum.

* New legislation introduced in Virginia today would require local government employees and teachers to contribute 5 percent of their pay to their retirement plans.

Some proponents of the bill also want to prohibit school boards and local governments from paying  employees share of their pensions, helping to ensure that school divisions can pay for the big increases in pension contributions for teachers proposed in Gov. McDonnell’s two-year budget.

According to The Richmond Times, the legislation would allow school boards -- not local governments -- to impose the new requirement on teachers by 1 percent a year over five years rather than all at once.

Read more here.

* Gov. McDonnell announced today that he will jet set to Florida this weekend to campaign for presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, The Washington Post reports.

McDonnell endorsed Romney Friday and has since spent a day campaigning for him in South Carolina, where he came in a far second to Newt Gingrich.

The Post reports:

“We’re only three primaries in,’’ McDonnell said. “He tied one. He won one and had a disappointment in South Carolina. This is a big race. This is a big primary — Florida — and it’s clearly turned into a very competitive race. It looks like at about dead heat right now and the super PACs are doing their thing and a lot of messaging is going on about the liabilities of the other candidates.”

McDonnell has been mentioned as a potential choice for vice president.

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