Credit: Photo by Andrew Schotz

This story was updated at 11:05 p.m. Dec. 23, 2021, to correct a reference to the governor’s veto power. The governor can veto congressional maps, but not state legislative maps. 

Montgomery County might get a ninth district added to its state legislative map. That’s the recommendation of the state’s Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, which finalized proposals for new state Senate and delegate districts this week.

The proposed map will go to the General Assembly to review when it convenes next month for its 2022 session. The legislature will approve the final boundaries for the state’s 47 Senate districts and the delegate districts within them.

Earlier this month, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed maps the legislature approved for congressional boundaries, but the General Assembly overrode his vetoes.

Under the state constitution, he can propose state legislative maps, but the state legislature votes on the final maps. The governor can’t veto state legislative maps.

Currently, District 14 spans much of the eastern part of the county, from Damascus down to Burtonsville and Fairland. In the commission’s proposal, the northern tip of District 14 moves into a new district that is still in Montgomery County but also includes other jurisdictions.

The county’s current state legislative map. Screenshot from Maryland Department of Planning.

That new district is 9A.

District 9A is currently in Howard and Carroll counties. Under the state legislative commission’s proposal, it would stretch into the northeastern part of Montgomery County, including a portion of Damascus.

The map proposed by the state’s Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission. District 9A would be the ninth district added into Montgomery County. Screenshot from Maryland Department of Planning.

Montgomery County currently has eight legislative districts. The commission’s proposal would add part of a ninth district. 

Previously, a commission appointed by Hogan proposed new state delegate and Senate districts. Those districts split up the county in various different ways than the current map. It would change the boundaries of districts throughout the county, including downcounty near Bethesda, across to Silver Spring. 

The map proposed by the governor’s commission also contains a structural change. Instead of each Senate district in Montgomery County also containing three delegates at large, some Senate districts were divided in thirds, with one delegate per subdistrict.

In the governor commission’s proposal, three districts in Montgomery County would be divided into subdistricts.

One is in a district upcounty covering the agricultural reserve. Another is an area spanning from Aspen Hill through Wheaton and parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park. The third district spans the southeastern part of the county, from White Oak up to Spencerville, Burtonsville and Sandy Spring. 

The governor’s commission proposed this map for Montgomery County. Screenshot from Maryland Department of Planning.

Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Ashton), the House Majority Leader, who served on the legislative commission, said in an interview Thursday that the recommended map, adding a ninth district, accounts for the growth in population in Montgomery County. 

He said the legislative commission rejected single-member districts and kept multimember districts, which have prompted many minority and female candidates to run and win a seat to elected office. That has led to Maryland having one of the most diverse state legislatures in the country, he said.

Luedtke said multimember districts are better equipped to serve constituents, because multiple delegates in each district can specialize in different policy areas.

In a Twitter thread, Del. Marc Korman (D-Bethesda), chair of the county’s House delegation, outlined some of the changes in the new map.

Of the changes he described, one that Korman noted is District 9A, which would be the first time Howard County and Montgomery County would share a district since the early 2000s, when District 14B covered much of Howard County and crossed over into Brookeville.

Luedtke said the legislative commission is still gathering feedback on its proposals.

According to the state Constitution, state lawmakers have until the 45th day of the legislative session to approve new maps. If they don’t act, Hogan’s proposals become law. 

The 2022 Maryland General Assembly convenes in Annapolis on Jan. 12. 

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com

Steve Bohnel

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com