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NYS lawmakers approve 2024 Congressional district lines

Front view of building in the snow
Karen DeWitt
New York State’s capitol on a snowy day.

The New York State legislature Wednesday finalized new Congressional lines for the 2024 races, clearing the way for petitioning for the June primaries that started on Tuesday.

With little debate, the lines drawn by Democrats, who lead both the Senate and Assembly, were approved, with a handful of republican minority party lawmakers also voting yes.

The measure passed 115- 33 in the Assembly and 45-17 in the Senate.

The vote comes two days after Democrats rejected district lines recommended by a bipartisan redistricting commission.

Republicans accused democrats of ignoring the state’s constitution, which requires the commission, known as the Independent Redistricting Commission, or IRC, to draw the maps. But Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says the constitution also allows lawmakers to alter the maps if they choose to.

“I think that sometimes, even the media forgets that the legislature still has a role. We don't have to just pass whatever the IRC passed, it doesn't mean that whatever the IRC passed means it's perfect,” said Heastie. “The Constitution does leave it with the legislature to make the final say on lines.”

The revised lines are marginally more favorable to some democratic incumbents, and could present a slightly tougher challenge to some republican congressmembers who are seeking re election.

Governor Kathy Hochul, who issued a message of necessity to accelerate the voting, says she intends to expedite her review of the maps before deciding whether to sign the legislation, but she says she won’t be drawn in to the political arguments surrounding the lines.

“As with every bill, I look at it when it's completed, I make my determination. And I'm not going to pass judgment on the process thus far. I have heard from a lot of people that it is an improvement from the point of view of one party,” said Hochul. “ I'm not here to weigh in on the on the political dynamic involved here.”

Legal challenges to the new congressional lines were anticipated, but so far no republicans have said they intend to file a lawsuit.

There were no images of the finalized map provided at the time of publication.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment and interviews newsmakers. Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.