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State Constitution requires changes in voting map two years after census

The Maryland Constitution requires the governor to submit to the General Assembly a proposed redistricting map for the state’s 47 senators and 141 delegates two years after the decennial census, which was last taken in 2010.

The map must consist of 47 single-senator districts, within which delegate districts are nested. The total number of House of Delegates districts can vary, as well as the number of House members serving each district, though no district may have more than three members.

O’Malley’s proposal would have 67 House districts, up from the current total of 65. The Democratic governor’s map would also have 12 majority-black House districts, up from 10. In addition, the map would create a House district in Prince George’s County, 47B, that would be more than 63 percent Hispanic.

The Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee consisted of the chair, Jeanne Hitchcock, who handles the governor’s appointments to state offices; Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s and Calvert; House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel; former Del. James J. King, R-Anne Arundel; and Richard Stewart, a Montgomery County businessman and donor whose tax troubles could surface in the form of a legal challenge to the governor’s proposal.

Member’s tax woes a separate issue

Quite apart from its specifics, House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, R-Calvert and St. Mary’s, said the governor’s proposed map is susceptible to legal challenge because a member of his redistricting advisory committee, Richard Stewart, pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to failing to pay about $4 million in federal Social Security and income taxes for the company he owned, Montgomery Mechanical Services.

The committee submitted its proposed map to O’Malley the next day, Dec. 16. The governor said he did not know of Stewart’s legal troubles until after the proposal was submitted.

The participation by a Democratic donor convicted of tax evasion “brings the entire process into question,” O’Donnell said. “It’s beyond the pale. This person should not have been part of the process.”

Stewart had donated $7,000 to O’Malley and $4,750 to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. O’Malley has given the money to charity, while Brown returned the donation he had received.

In addition to paying restitution, Stewart faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in April.

See related story here.