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Protecting upstate

By Lombardo David
Saturday, October 1, 2011

State Sen. Roy McDonald has three words of advice for whoever draws up the district lines for the makeup of the state Legislature -- "upstate, upstate, upstate."

The upstate Republican senator is referring to the likelihood that more of the state Legislature's representation will be shifting to New York City after new district lines are drawn. The practice occurs every 10 years, but this time around bodes particularly bad for people interested in more representation in upstate New York.

The first concern for upstaters is a provision in last year's budget that requires prison inmates be counted for the districts they're originally from and not the district they're being held in. This is problematic because a majority of the state's prisons are in upstate New York, which will lose bodies with this law.

But, the law is being challenged in court and could be overturned on the basis that it shouldn't have been included in a budget bill.

Another problem for upstate New York is that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will oppose any non-independent redistricting. This means that if Senate Republicans do any sort of gerrymandering to maintain control of the Senate, which will mean a strong upstate presence, Cuomo will veto it.

Upstate needs representation, argues McDonald, who cited the large regions and distinct culture that he feels mandate a disproportionate share of representation.

"We can't be reapportioned out of existence," he said. "We don't want to fall [into] oblivion."

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