The New York State Senate Chamber in Albany is seen...

The New York State Senate Chamber in Albany is seen on Jan. 16. The State Legislature will soon consider a proposed redistricting map. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY – The lines of Long Island’s four congressional districts would not change a bit under a new redistricting map approved Thursday by a bipartisan panel.

The Independent Redistricting Commission, under a court order, unveiled its proposal for boundaries in New York’s 26 congressional districts. And more than 90% of the proposed map looks just like the current one.

The map still must be approved by the State Legislature.

The five-Republican, five-Democrat redistricting commission said only three districts contained any noticeable political changes; 10 weren’t altered at all.

The most noticeable changes would improve Democrats’ chances at flipping a district in the Syracuse area and tinker with adjacent districts in the Hudson Valley and Catskills to slightly help a Democratic and a Republican incumbent.

On the Island, no changes were made to any of the four districts, which currently feature three Republicans and one Democrat. That’s because commissioners couldn’t come close to a consensus for the region.

“Long Island was the toughest place of all to consider changes,” Charles Nesbitt, the Republican vice-chair of the commission, told Newsday. “That’s because we had vastly different ideas of where the lines should be drawn. So in the end, we settled on the current lines and agreed to disagree.”

For example, the 3rd Congressional District — which Tom Suozzi won in special election Tuesday — still would be based on Nassau County’s North Shore but draw about 20% of its residents from northeast Queens.

Commission members said they’d settled on the idea of keeping Island districts the same ahead of whatever happened in the special election.

They also said the current map served as a guide to putting together a new one. Collectively, the new districts are “more than 90% the same” as the current ones, Nesbitt and Democratic commission chair Ken Jenkins said.

Next comes the biggest step.

The maps will be forwarded to the State Assembly and Senate for approval or rejection — a vote that likely will occur no earlier than Feb. 26, sources said.

Democrats hold a two-thirds supermajority in each house and could seek to alter the map to help the party’s chances in this fall’s elections. However, several sources said the legislature might make just small changes to the IRC plan or none at all. They noted the Court of Appeals order which said “any legislative alteration of IRC-drawn districts cannot affect more than two percent of the population in any district.”

Changing the IRC map also could spark a Republican lawsuit.

Time could be a factor in the outcome.

The petitioning period for candidates to qualify for June congressional primaries is set to begin Feb. 27.

If a new map isn’t approved before then, the legislature could be faced with a choice of either moving the congressional primary date to, perhaps, August, or easing some of the petition requirements and deadlines for qualifying, a step taken previously in extraordinary circumstances.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) noted the time crunch while not giving an indication of how the Senate might vote.

“We plan to discuss and decide our subsequent actions soon, taking into account the election cycle calendar,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) didn’t comment immediately.

The legislature is out right now for its annual Presidents Day weeklong break and isn’t slated to return to Albany until Feb. 26. Though Assembly Democrats initially were told to be prepared to be available for a redistricting vote sooner, the idea was scrapped, a source said.

This is the latest chapter in New York’s redistricting battle, which has had national implications.

In 2022, the state’s highest court agreed with a Republican lawsuit that said a map drawn by the State Legislature constituted an illegal gerrymander to help Democrats gain as many as six seats. The Court of Appeals ordered a “special master” to draw a new map — which helped Republicans gain seats here and win narrow control of Congress.

A subsequent Democratic lawsuit resulted in the Court of Appeals ruling that the special-master’s map was a short-term fix because of the looming election.

Citing the state constitution, the court ordered the IRC to begin again and set a Feb. 28 deadline for the commission to propose a new map. It didn’t give the legislature a deadline for approving one.

ALBANY – The lines of Long Island’s four congressional districts would not change a bit under a new redistricting map approved Thursday by a bipartisan panel.

The Independent Redistricting Commission, under a court order, unveiled its proposal for boundaries in New York’s 26 congressional districts. And more than 90% of the proposed map looks just like the current one.

The map still must be approved by the State Legislature.

The five-Republican, five-Democrat redistricting commission said only three districts contained any noticeable political changes; 10 weren’t altered at all.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The lines of Long Island’s four congressional districts would not change a bit under a new redistricting map approved Thursday by a bipartisan panel.
  • The Independent Redistricting Commission said only three districts statewide contained any noticeable political changes; 10 weren’t altered at all.
  • The map still must be approved by the State Legislature.

The most noticeable changes would improve Democrats’ chances at flipping a district in the Syracuse area and tinker with adjacent districts in the Hudson Valley and Catskills to slightly help a Democratic and a Republican incumbent.

On the Island, no changes were made to any of the four districts, which currently feature three Republicans and one Democrat. That’s because commissioners couldn’t come close to a consensus for the region.

“Long Island was the toughest place of all to consider changes,” Charles Nesbitt, the Republican vice-chair of the commission, told Newsday. “That’s because we had vastly different ideas of where the lines should be drawn. So in the end, we settled on the current lines and agreed to disagree.”

For example, the 3rd Congressional District — which Tom Suozzi won in special election Tuesday — still would be based on Nassau County’s North Shore but draw about 20% of its residents from northeast Queens.

Commission members said they’d settled on the idea of keeping Island districts the same ahead of whatever happened in the special election.

They also said the current map served as a guide to putting together a new one. Collectively, the new districts are “more than 90% the same” as the current ones, Nesbitt and Democratic commission chair Ken Jenkins said.

Next comes the biggest step.

The maps will be forwarded to the State Assembly and Senate for approval or rejection — a vote that likely will occur no earlier than Feb. 26, sources said.

Democrats hold a two-thirds supermajority in each house and could seek to alter the map to help the party’s chances in this fall’s elections. However, several sources said the legislature might make just small changes to the IRC plan or none at all. They noted the Court of Appeals order which said “any legislative alteration of IRC-drawn districts cannot affect more than two percent of the population in any district.”

Changing the IRC map also could spark a Republican lawsuit.

Time could be a factor in the outcome.

The petitioning period for candidates to qualify for June congressional primaries is set to begin Feb. 27.

If a new map isn’t approved before then, the legislature could be faced with a choice of either moving the congressional primary date to, perhaps, August, or easing some of the petition requirements and deadlines for qualifying, a step taken previously in extraordinary circumstances.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) noted the time crunch while not giving an indication of how the Senate might vote.

“We plan to discuss and decide our subsequent actions soon, taking into account the election cycle calendar,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) didn’t comment immediately.

The legislature is out right now for its annual Presidents Day weeklong break and isn’t slated to return to Albany until Feb. 26. Though Assembly Democrats initially were told to be prepared to be available for a redistricting vote sooner, the idea was scrapped, a source said.

This is the latest chapter in New York’s redistricting battle, which has had national implications.

In 2022, the state’s highest court agreed with a Republican lawsuit that said a map drawn by the State Legislature constituted an illegal gerrymander to help Democrats gain as many as six seats. The Court of Appeals ordered a “special master” to draw a new map — which helped Republicans gain seats here and win narrow control of Congress.

A subsequent Democratic lawsuit resulted in the Court of Appeals ruling that the special-master’s map was a short-term fix because of the looming election.

Citing the state constitution, the court ordered the IRC to begin again and set a Feb. 28 deadline for the commission to propose a new map. It didn’t give the legislature a deadline for approving one.

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