- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2011

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland congressional redistricting plans separate from Gov. Martin O'Malley’s map will be considered on their own at a hearing in next week’s special session — not only as amendments to the governor’s proposal, aides to the presiding officers of the General Assembly said Friday.

Lawmakers had initially considered only taking up amendments to the plan that Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, will be presenting to the General Assembly next week. Republican Sen. Nancy Jacobs, the Senate minority leader, called for all proposals in separate legislation to receive hearings. Aides to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he favored the request.

Alexandra Hughes, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael Busch, said all proposals will get a hearing scheduled for Monday in Annapolis, when lawmakers convene for the special session.

Ms. Jacobs said she wasn’t optimistic the Democrat-controlled Legislature would listen to the GOP’s proposals, but she said she was glad Republicans will be able to outline their proposals separately from those of the Democratic governor.

“I think it could get very contentious,” Ms. Jacobs said Friday. “A lot will depend if injured parties or groups speak out against the governor’s plan.”

Mr. O'Malley was still working Friday on the redistricting plan he will support, spokeswoman Takirra Winfield said.

The advisory committee’s recommended map has angered Republicans because it moves a large portion of Montgomery County into the 6th District, which has been held by Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett since 1993. The change would make it more competitive for a Democrat, creating the possibility that seven of the state’s eight congressional districts could become Democratic. Maryland’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives now includes six Democrats and two Republicans.

The plan has also concerned minorities, who contend the effort to oust Bartlett is coming at the expense of minority representation in the central part of the state.

Maryland currently has two minority members of Congress: Rep. Donna F. Edwards and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, both of whom are black. Ms. Edwards has said she does not support the proposed map submitted by the governor’s advisory commission because it doesn’t adequately represent minorities.

Some minority groups, including the NAACP and a political action committee based in heavily Democratic Prince George’s County, are concerned the proposed map dilutes minority representation in central Maryland. The Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, based in Prince George’s County, has been outspoken in its support for three congressional districts made up of mostly minorities.

NAACP representatives met with the governor’s advisers on Wednesday. The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, which also had a representative at the Wednesday meeting, is scheduled to meet on Saturday to discuss the plan.

Several Republican lawmakers will be introducing their own redistricting plans. Delegate Michael Hough, a Republican whose district includes parts of Frederick and Washington counties, will be introducing a plan that includes three minority districts. Hough’s proposal is supported by the Fannie Lou Hamer PAC that opposes the draft plan submitted by O'Malley’s advisory commission.

Lawmakers will convene late Monday morning for a short session. Then, there will be a 1 p.m. hearing on various redistricting proposals. The hearing is expected to last most of the afternoon and possibly into the evening. The session is not expected to last more than several days.