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Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Agreement On Reprecincting Process Change

House and Senate negotiators struck a deal on legislation related to drawing political districts and voting precincts, filing a compromise bill with the House clerk's office late Monday morning.

The bill (H 4118) swaps the order this year in which the Legislature draws new district maps and municipalities draw their new precinct maps, a part of the decennial redistricting process. Usually, municipalities create their voting wards and precincts before lawmakers enact legislation creating new Congressional and legislative maps, but the bill would have the Legislature go first, then give cities and towns 30 days to complete their process so long as they finish by Dec. 15.

Five of the six conferees — Reps. Michael Moran and Daniel Ryan and Sens. William Brownsberger, Barry Finegold and Ryan Fattman — signed onto the report and the sixth, Norfolk Republican Rep. Shawn Dooley, did not.

Both the House and Senate have formal sessions planned for Thursday, and could take up the bill then. The House also plans to meet in an informal session on Wednesday.

In a normal redistricting year, municipalities would have been required to complete the reprecincting process by June 15 and those precincts would be used as the primary building blocks for legislative and Congressional districts. The release of 2020 Census data was delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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