- The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2011

A Maryland panel proposed a new legislative map Friday night that would account for the state’s growing minority population by adding two majority-black districts and the state’s first-ever majority-Hispanic House subdistrict.

The five-member advisory committee, appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, released a map that members said ensures adequate representation for growing minority populations in the D.C. suburbs and Southern Maryland, and addresses the declining population in Baltimore.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, will consider the map and is expected submit a substantially similar proposal in mid-January, which the General Assembly will consider during its regular session.

“Obviously, the issue of the shifting population and diversity of the state drives a lot of policy decisions,” said committee chairwoman Jeanne Hitchcock. “We tried to recognize the growing ethnic populations, and we think we have done so.”

During a meeting with reporters, Ms. Hitchcock said the map will most notably give the state 12 majority-black senatorial districts, with the addition of two new ones in Prince George’s County. In all, the state will have 16 majority-minority districts.

The state has 47 senatorial districts in all, each of which contains three delegate seats. The new map would also create District 47B in Prince George’s County, a 63-percent-Hispanic subdistrict that would be represented by one delegate and house one-third of District 47’s total population.

The committee also said it could pursue the option of creating a half-Hispanic subdistrict in Montgomery County’s District 18. In addition to diversity concerns, the committee also addressed Baltimore’s declining population by extending District 44 — one of the city’s six districts — into southwestern Baltimore County.

The new district would straddle the city-county line and two of its three delegates would have to come from the county, potentially forcing two of the district’s current delegates out of office in 2014. The committee will hold a public hearing on Dec. 22 in Annapolis to discuss the plan.

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