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Redistricting and Legislative Terms Discussed in Light of Delayed 2020 Census Results

Legislator Amanda Champion (D-Ithaca) reported from the Government Operations committee that as the 2020 Census data reporting will be delayed, the Legislature is considering making adjustments to terms to allow for a more accurate future reflection of constituent numbers. Champion shared, “This impacts our County, our residents, and anyone else who wants to run for office” and encouraged legislators to look at the bigger picture of representation.

The committee narrowed down options for adjusted terms to either maintaining the current election cycles or changing the upcoming 2021 elections from four-year to two-year terms with a return to four-year terms in 2023. Options will be discussed at the next committee meeting on June 4th before a recommendation moves to the full Legislature.

The public was urged to weigh in and share opinions with legislators, as well as to complete the census to ensure an accurate count.

Among other business

The Legislature heard a report from County Administrator Jason Molino including updates on County operations, Health Department messaging on stopping the spread of COVID-19, and regional reopening. The full COVID-19 timeline document can be found here. Administrator Molino shared that open businesses will be required to ensure that their patrons are wearing masks in their facilities and to enforce appropriately, more clarity on this will be part of upcoming guidance from the State. Included in the report were details on how Tompkins County is managing communication and enforcement of state and local guidelines. In almost every case of a complaint the Environmental Health team from the Tompkins County Health Department has achieved compliance by educating businesses and individuals, offering resources, and encouraging respectful engagement with others.

Legislator Amanda Champion shared that registered voters eligible to vote in June primaries recently received postage-paid absentee ballot applications that should be filled out and returned by June 16th so that voters can receive an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are more widely encouraged as social distancing continues over the coming months. Individuals are encouraged to select “temporary illness” as the reason for filling out the application in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislature Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne (D-Ithaca) read two proclamations, recognizing Older Americans Month and Asian American Heritage Month. Legislators recognized contributions to our community and reflected on the loss of community leader and Ithaca College Professor Sue-Je Gage. Chairwoman McBean-Clairborne encouraged the public to be mindful and manage mental health during this difficult time for many people in the community.

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