In the wake of Gannett’s report that Senate Republicans are considering a lawsuit challenging the law that does not count inmates who reside in upstate prisons, Sen. Thomas Libous said today a legal fight may commence.
“It has a devastating effect when you start looking at numbers in upstate New York,” Libous said on Talk 1300-AM this morning.
Democrats, who held control of the Senate for two years, successfully sought a measure that ended the practice of counting inmates as part of a legislative district’s population. Under the new law, the inmates, who are barred from voting, would be counted as residents of their law known address.
The move will likely impact the districts of lawmakers like Sens Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, Warren County, and John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, and Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, Seneca County, who have multiple facilities in their districts.
In the interview, Libous, the Senate’s number two Republican, was under no illusion as to why the Democrats passed the measure.
“… therefore they made the change because they wanted to make sure they could shrink upstate districts because that’s where the Republican party has its strength and its base,” Libous said.
Legislative redistricting is a simmering topic in Albany, with Democrats in the Senate trying to push Republicans to adopt a plan that would allow for an independent commission to redraw boundaries. Currently, the state Senate sets the boundaries, a practice that good-government advocates say insulates incumbents through increasingly bizarrely drawn districts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports an independent commission, which, given the state’s overwhelming Democratic enrollment, will likely hurt Republicans.