AUGUSTA (AP) – Democratic and Republican negotiators failed to break two major deadlocks Thursday night, virtually guaranteeing that the task of redrawing Maine’s political boundaries to reflect a decade’s worth of population changes will be given to the state supreme court.

The state apportionment commission, in a series of votes, pronounced itself unable to agree on how to remap the 35 state Senate districts and Maine’s two congressional districts.

Completing plans will be forwarded to the Legislature.

Majorities of two-thirds there would be needed to put a new districting plan into law. But since the apportionment commission split along party lines, there is no expectation that bipartisan super majorities will emerge in the state House of Representatives or Senate behind any plan.

In Thursday night’s voting, neutral apportionment commission chairman Donald Zillman sided with the Democrats behind their congressional district proposal, which would move Waterville from the 1st into the 2nd Congressional District.

A more radical Republican plan would fashion a new 1st District along a north-south axis.

Zillman abstained from expressing a preference on competing state Senate plans, saying he found merit in both. That left the panel divided on that score, seven-to-seven.

“I think there are solid arguments for each,” Zillman said.

The Democratic state Senate plan more equally apportioned population among districts overall, while the Republican counterplan divided fewer smaller towns.

Zillman said he believed the apportionment panel had achieved “remarkable success” in working cooperatively. A University of Maine law school professor, he was chosen by representatives on each side to preside over the panel’s deliberations.

On Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans had reached agreement on a proposal for remapping state House of Representatives districts.

But without a unified accord, that plan too will likely go before the law court.

Zillman, who lives in the state House district currently represented by Eder, abstained from voting on the House plan Wednesday.

In general, he said at the time, “I’m happiest when everyone else is unanimous and I can sit back.”

Also abstaining on the state House plan vote was Democratic Party designee Molly Pitcher of Brunswick, whose son is Democratic state Rep. Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick.

“I don’t agree with the plan,” she said without elaboration.

Ten years ago, the task of redistricting was given to the state supreme court but 20 years ago the House and Senate approved a redistricting package themselves.

Data from the 2000 census released in March 2001 showed that Maine’s population grew by 3.8 percent to 1,274,923 people between 1990 and 2000.

New government estimates late last year suggested that more than 16,000 Mainers were among 3.2 million people overlooked across the nation in the 2000 census. A revision including those estimates would put Maine’s population for 2000 at 1,291,649.

Currently in the Legislature, Democrats again control both chambers, 18-17 in the Senate and 80-67, with one Green Independent and three unenrolled, in the House.

The 1st Congressional District is now comprised of York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and part of Kennebec County.

The 2nd Congressional District incorporates Aroostook, Washington, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin as well as part of Kennebec.

Democrats Tom Allen of Portland and Michael Michaud of East Millinocket hold the seats now.

AP-ES-04-03-03 1944EST



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