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New York state lawmakers approve 2024 congressional district lines 

This file photo shows the exterior of the New York state Capitol on Jan. 16, 2024, in Albany, New York.
Hans Pennink
/
Associated Press
This file photo shows the exterior of the New York state Capitol on Jan. 16, 2024, in Albany, New York.

The New York State Legislature on Wednesday finalized new congressional lines for the 2024 races, clearing the way for petitioning that started Tuesday for the June primaries.

With little debate, the lines drawn by Democrats, who lead both the Senate and Assembly, were approved, with a handful of Republican minority party lawmakers also voting yes.

The measure passed 115-33 in the Assembly and 45-17 in the Senate.

The vote comes two days after Democrats rejected district lines recommended by a bipartisan redistricting commission.

Republicans accused Democrats of ignoring the state’s constitution, which requires the commission — known as the Independent Redistricting Commission, or IRC — to draw the maps. But Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the constitution also allows lawmakers to alter the maps if they choose to.

“I think that sometimes, even the media forgets that the Legislature still has a role. We don't have to just pass whatever the IRC passed; it doesn't mean that whatever the IRC passed means it's perfect,” said Heastie. “The constitution does leave it with the Legislature to make the final say on lines.”

The revised lines are marginally more favorable to some Democratic incumbents and could present a slightly tougher challenge to some Republican congressmembers who are seeking reelection.

Hochul, who issued a message of necessity to accelerate the voting, had earlier said that she would expedite her review of the maps but wouldn't be drawn in to the political arguments surrounding the lines.

“As with every bill, I look at it when it's completed, I make my determination,” Hochul said. “And I'm not going to pass judgment on the process thus far. I have heard from a lot of people that it is an improvement from the point of view of one party. I'm not here to weigh in on the political dynamic involved here.”

Hochul signed the new lines into law on Wednesday evening.

Legal challenges to the new congressional lines were anticipated, but so far, no Republicans have said they intend to file a lawsuit.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.