Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A proposal by Democratic New Jersey lawmakers to revamp a districting committee is being criticized as a power grab and gerrymandering, by some on the same side of the aisle.
At issue is a proposed constitutional amendment that would give state legislators new leverage in the makeup of the state's bipartisan redistricting board. At a legislators meeting in Trenton Thursday, the measure was blasted by progressives, NorthJersey.com reported Friday.
The bipartisan board includes five Democrats and five Republicans, each appointed by the heads of the two state parties, and an 11th person acts as an independent to choose between maps drawn by the panel members. The new proposal would have legislative leaders, rather than the state parties, choose committee members.
Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the only person who favored the measure at the meeting, defended it as party neutral and said Republicans would grab a greater share of seats if they became more popular in the state.
"It's not a Democratic model only," Scutari said. "If this model was used in Texas, it probably or might result in a Republican legislature."
"Any proposed reforms should put the interests of the people ahead of politicians and improve the current redistricting process in each state," Holder, who leads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said in a report by The Hill. "As currently constructed, the proposal in New Jersey fails to live up to those standards."
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the Democrat who replaced Republican Chris Christie as governor last year, has vowed to fight the measure -- and some grassroots activists have promised to campaign against it if it reaches voters.
"I don't believe that the leaders in the state legislature are aware of the power of the grassroots and what we did in targeting our energies on the members of Congress," Dena Mottola Jaborska, association director of New Jersey Citizen Action, said. "I don't think they know what we're capable of."