Colorado Democrats have killed the last bill that would have let legislators redraw congressional districts this session. Now it's up to the courts or a costly special session.
"This is the second redistricting bill Senate Democrats killed in less than 24 hours, including one they authored," said Senator Greg Brophy, R-Wray. "Despite the fact that we have a constitutional duty to redraw Colorados congressional districts, Democrats chose to punt and give this task to the courts."
Senate Democrats called the Republican map "skewed."
Democratic Senate President Brandon Shaffer said he would not be forced into a "blatantly gerrymandered map," but he agreed to look at a new proposal from Republicans in an effort to keep the last redistricting bill alive after Republicans launched a filibuster. The bill died later Tuesday on a 3-2 party line vote in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
Shaffer said allegations from GOP House Speaker Frank McNulty that it was the Democrats' plan all along to force redistricting into the courts were "just false."
House Bill 11-1319, the Colorado Communities map, died on a party-line vote. Democrat Senators Rollie Heath, Bob Bacon and Betty Boyd voted no while Republican Senators Bill Cadman and Kevin Grantham voted yes.
Both sides said a special session would be futile unless either side is willing to make more concessions.
With the hours ticking down before the Legislature adjourns, Rep. Mark Waller, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said the GOP map in the House was the Legislature's best option.
"It's our charge in this General Assembly to pass congressional redistricting," he said. "This is the only map that has come forward for a vote in the General Assembly."
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper called a meeting with both sides to try to negotiate a compromise, but canceled it after members of the news media demanded access.
Congressional redistricting is required every 10 years following the census to ensure voter equality. It matters to voters because their representatives will make important decisions on health care, the federal budget, Medicaid and other issues that have embroiled members of Congress.
A decade ago, it took seven years, ending with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to get it done in Colorado.
During the last election, Republicans picked up two seats in Colorado, giving them a 4-3 majority, and Democrats would like new maps that provide help winning back some of those spots.
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