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Virginia House Delays Vote On Senate Redistricting

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Republican Speaker Bill Howell presides over the House of Delegates in Richmond.
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Republican Speaker Bill Howell presides over the House of Delegates in Richmond.

Virginia's House of Delegates gaveled into session Thursday at noon, only a few hours after the Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report, lampooned a Republican-led effort to redraw state Senate districts to benefit Republicans. Because the GOP waited until a Democratic senator was out of town for the inauguration, Colbert dubbed Virginia Republicans "Alpha Dogs of the Week." Charlottesville Del. David Toscano took the House floor and said the redistricting plan was troubling.

"In one district, 92 percent of the people were moved around to create a new Senate district," says Toscano. "I'd submit to you that's hardly a technical adjustment."

At the end of the House session, the clerk announced that the effort had been delayed yet again.

House leaders could take the bill up today or they could delay it indefinitely. If the Republican-dominated House of Delegates approves the redistricting plan, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell will have to make a decision — does he want to veto the bill and anger Republicans or pass the bill and potentially jeopardize his transportation package? Analysts at the Virginia Center for Politics say McDonnell has a third option — he could theoretically let the bill become law without his signature.

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