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Senator: House snubbed Senate on redistricting hearings

Anita Kumar

When the House of Delegates announced last week that it would hold a series of public hearings on redistricting, it came as news to the Senate.

Sen. Janet Howell, chairwoman of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, said she wanted the Republican-led House and Democratic-run Senate to hold fall public hearings together to save money and to be more convenient for residents.

The answer from the House? No.

She said she approached Del. Mark Cole, chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, about the idea and thought they reached an agreement, but heard later that the Speaker did not want joint hearings.

Paul Nardo, chief of staff to House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) said the House and Senate have never held fall redistricting hearings together, but that the two chambers do plan to hold joint hearings in the spring. "We will work with the Senate,'' he said.

Nardo said the Senate should go ahead with its public hearings if it wants to. "We're trying to be as responsive as we can,'' he said. "The more public input the better."

Neither the House or Senate had hearings in the fall 10 years ago, according to the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. They held joint hearings in the springs. Each hearing costs money because of court reporters, room rentals and staff time.

"This is unfortunate and aggravating,'' said Sen. Howell (D-Fairfax). "It's disrespectful of the public and unnecessarily costly to the taxpayers."

She said the Senate will hold hearings, but she has yet to schedule them. Keep reading for a list of House public hearings:

Wednesday, Sept. 8 - 7 p.m.,
Natural Science Center, V A Western Community College (Roanoke)

Wednesday, Sept. 22 -7 p.m.,
Roper Performing Arts Center, Tidewater
Community College (Norfolk)

Tuesday, Oct. 5 - 7 p.m.,
Mason Hall, George Mason University

Monday, Oct. 18 - 7 p.m.,
Regional Center for Advanced Technology and Training,
Danville Community College

Monday, Dec. 6 - 7 p.m.,
University Hall, University of Mary Washington
(Stafford Campus)

Friday, Dec. 17 - 10 a.m.,
9th Floor Appropriations Room, General Assembly
Building (time approximate, after Governor's remarks to the money committees)

By Anita Kumar  |  August 31, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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