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Redistricting Bills Compete In Albany

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Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush said he's keeping his pledge on redistricting.
The organization to which he made the pledge, founded by former New York City mayor Edward I. Koch, isn't so sure.
Mr. Blankenbush, a Black River Republican, said he will support a bill being drafted by the Assembly minority that supporters say will guarantee non-partisan redistricting, but differs from a bill that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has submitted. New York Uprising, the organization that procured the election-season pledge from Mr. Blankenbush and scores of other legislators, is asking legislators to sign on to Mr. Cuomo's bill.
"I commend the governor's effort in bringing redistricting reform to New York, but I know that we can do better to prevent partisan politics and special interests from infiltrating this fundamental and necessary reform," Mr. Blankenbush, who does not support Mr. Cuomo's bill, said in a news release. "The changes I am asking for are essential in making sure that the voice of the North Country is heard loud and clear in the redistricting process."
The bill differs from Mr. Cuomo's bill in three major ways, according to the news release. The bill would:
- Require public hearings in the north country on independent redistricting
- Give each stakeholder - the Assembly, the Senate and the governor - two appointments to an independent redistricting panel. The governor's bill gives the Assembly two, the Senate two and the governor four appointments.
- Count inmates in correctional facilities as residents where they are incarcerated, rather than where they lived when they were arrested, a flashpoint for many upstate legislators.
As to whether supporting a different redistricting bill counting as "keeping the pledge," as Mr. Blankenbush's office touted in a news release, the executive director for New York Uprising was noncommittal because he has not read the still-incomplete bill.
"If everyone has their own tiny problem, and everyone has their own bill that's slightly different, nothing gets passed," said Adam J. Riff. "That said, there's a process to pass bills. And I know that the minority leader and the governor are talking about what to do, as are the legislators. As of now, what Mayor Koch has asked people to do is support the governor's bill."
In an e-mail follow-up message, Mr. Riff noted that legislators can support multiple redistricting bills.

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