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Edwards appointed to congressional redistricting committee

If the Legislature figures out how to proceed with a new map for the 2020 congressional elections, state Sen. Chuck Edwards will be on board the committee drawing new lines.

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore on Monday appointed an interim committee to begin the process of drawing new district boundaries. The interim committee convenes for the first time on Tuesday.

State Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, who chairs the Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections, will also co-chair the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting. 

"There has been substantial interest in where Congressional redistricting stands right now and what we expect to happen in the coming weeks," Hise said. "The short and honest answer right now is 'I don't know.' We are currently under a state court's 'wink-and-nod' quasi-order that says they haven't gone through enough process yet to determine that the current Congressional maps violate the North Carolina Constitution, but they 'urge' us to go ahead and create new maps.

"At the same time, a well-respected former justice of the N.C. Supreme Court filed a federal lawsuit last week arguing that the state court's wink-and-nod quasi-order would actually violate the U.S. Constitutional rights of North Carolinians. Frankly, I'm waiting on a judge somewhere to tell me which version of which Constitution to follow. I know what I think the law is, but sometimes that doesn't have any bearing on what a judge might order. We're going to move forward and begin the redistricting process because the filing period starts in less than one month, whether under the current map or a new one. We intend to keep the state on schedule and not cram the election process."

Edwards said in a statement: “While I loathe the fact that activist judges are writing a legislative policy from their benches, we must respect our form of government. I consider it an honor to have been selected for the critically important task of ensuring that fair congressional maps are in place for the 2020 election. I realize that the term ‘fair’ has a different meaning to different people, and I doubt that everyone will agree on the result even after we redraw these congressional maps for the second time."

Edwards' appointment to the redistricting committee was the second high-profile assignment he received Monday. Berger also apppointed him to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, a 42-member committee with broad authority to evaluate programs, policies, practices and procedures of state government departments, agencies and institutions for their effectiveness and usefulness. 

“Organizational spending, operations, and efficiencies are precisely in my wheelhouse," Edwards said in a news release. "This committee assignment is one of those that best allows me to use my knowledge and experience as a businessman to help make a difference for North Carolina. I appreciate that the Senate’s leadership recognizes that I can make a positive contribution and help oversee the operations of our state government.”