New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed into law a new set of congressional maps approved Wednesday by the state Legislature after Democratic lawmakers on Monday rejected the newest proposed boundaries drawn by the state's Independent Redistricting Commission.

Legislation introduced earlier this week that would make some changes to the maps the commission approved last week passed the state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

Lawmakers’ speed on the effort was made possible by Hochul’s passage of a message of necessity Wednesday morning, which allows legislators to circumvent the three-day waiting period required before acting on bills.

Hochul signed the maps into law hours after they passed the Legislature, her office said Wednesday evening, meaning they have now taken effect.

Earlier Wednesday, she stressed the urgency of the situation.

“The petitioning process has already been delayed, we have to get this going otherwise we’re going to end up delaying primaries and elections and we don’t want that to happen,” she said. 

The biggest changes from the Independent Redistricting Commission’s maps proposal would be on Long Island, where more of eastern Suffolk County would be ceded from the 2nd Congrssional District, represented by Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino, to the 1st District, represented by Republican Rep. Nick LaLota. Part of western Suffolk County would shift the 2nd District to the 3rd, soon to be represented by Democrat Tom Suozzi when he is sworn in Wednesday after winning a special election to replace former Rep. George Santos.

Across upstate, much like the IRC’s proposal, the biggest change from the current lines should this map be enacted would be in the 22nd District, which is anchored by the city of Syracuse and represented by Republican Rep. Brandon Williams. It would include all of Onondaga and Madison counties, southern Oneida County, southern Cayuga County and northern Cortland County.

Democrat Pat Ryan's 18th District would lose more of Ulster County to Republican Marc Molinaro's 19th District. Democrat Paul Tonko's 20th District would cede more of Saratoga County to Elise Stefanik's 21st District, but would still include the city of Saratoga Springs and gain a small sliver of Rensselaer County.

If left intact through any potential court challenge, the new maps could have a major pivotal impact in elections this fall for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a razor-thin majority, thanks in part to a string of GOP victories in New York in 2022.

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, who spearheaded these latest changes for the Senate, told Capital Tonight on Tuesday that the Independent Redistricting Commission appeared to make a deal among themselves to protect both parties’ incumbents. Leaders of the commission have denied this. 

“That’s impermissible under the [state] Constitution,” Gianaris explained. “They also, in order to accomplish that feat, sliced up counties six different times, which is impermissible, according to the Constitution, and did not respect the communities of interest that exist throughout the state.”

On Wednesday, first the state Senate voted 45-17 to send the new lines to the governor’s desk for approval, then the Assembly followed suit with a 115-3 vote in favor.

Democratic Assemblymember Charles Lavine said the Legislature “exercised fairness."

“The maps that were proposed by the IRC were not that terribly bad, but the maps that we approved today made improvements on the IRC plan, minor improvements,” he said.

Democrats maintain that those small changes were made to prevent the unnecessary division of communities, as Gianaris said on the Senate floor Monday. 

“Some of the districts were moved slightly to make sure communities of interest were protected, and that is our constitutional responsibility,” Lavine said. 

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt told Spectrum News 1 shortly after the new lines were approved by the Legislature that the map approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission was a bipartisan effort, and accused Democrats of “casually” dismissing that result.

“I think our conference’s big objection is in the process, less the outcome,” he said.

In fact, vote counts in both chambers showed several Republicans voting in favor of the maps, something leaders said as early as Tuesday night was a possibility as both parties confronted the implications of drawing the process out.

“There’s no doubt Democrats feel that this map is better for Democrats but I have spoken with many of my members in Congress who do think this is not a terrible map for Republicans," Ortt said. 

The governor also signed legislation that would move the start of petitioning to Wednesday, and another bill that would limit where redistricting-related lawsuits can be filed to just four counties: New York, Westchester, Albany, and Erie. 

Ortt sharply criticized the latter.

“The notion that a state Supreme Court Judge in Jefferson County, Niagara County, Steuben County is nonsense,” he said. "It happened two years ago, and they didn’t like the result of the ruling.”

It’s unclear whether the GOP will challenge the new maps, but several key players have indicated a lack of appetite for challenging the new map. 

A Republican challenge at this point could, like in 2022, completely disrupt New York’s primary elections calendar. The state’s primary elections are scheduled for June 25.

Democrats in the Legislature drawing their own maps is what led to this point. In 2022, the state Court of Appeals rejecting their maps and appointed a special master to draw the ones currently in place. In 2023, the court decided to allow the Independent Redistricting Commission another chance to draw new maps.


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