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A poll worker helps a voter during Election Day in 2018. The Cayuga County Legislature Tuesday established a public hearing for a local law, subject to referendum, that would change term limits to two years in preparation for redistricting after the 2020 U.S. Census.

AUBURN — The Cayuga County Legislature on Tuesday approved a public hearing for a local law to temporarily change term lengths, a first step in the process to prepare for possible redrawing and reapportioning of legislative districts.

Based on the results of the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, the Legislature will likely be required to redraw districts and reapportion the points each legislator has under the current weighted vote system.

Legislators have also expressed interest in possibly changing the number of seats on the body based on the census results, which would require a public referendum.

To address that, a proposed local law, also subject to a public referendum, would temporarily change the term length for legislators running in even-numbered districts for the term to begin January 2022 from four to two years in order to align them with the staggered elections of odd-numbered districts.

The law would also change the term limits for all legislators. After an amendment introduced by Legislator Ryan Foley, D-Auburn, any person elected to three full, four-year terms would be ineligible to run for additional full or partial terms.

Attempting to address redistricting would be "difficult, if not impossible" if legislative terms were not on the same schedule, according to the resolution.

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The local law saw multiple changes both through the committee process and at Tuesday's meetings, as legislators and county staff attempted to find the precise legal language that would address the issue while avoiding loopholes and maintaining the intent of previous public referendums on term limits.

Foley's amendment passed with all Democrats voting in favor, and Republicans, save for Legislator Charlie Ripley, R-Summerhill, and independent Legislator Patrick Mahunik, I-Auburn, voting against.

Legislator Andrew Dennison, R-Ira, voted against the amendment and the full resolution after saying he would only vote in its favor if the local law had been completely figured out.

Several legislators, including Legislators Chris Petrus, R-Brutus, and Patrick Mahunik, I-Auburn, had said that the vote in front of them was only to establish the public hearing for the law, and suggested any desired changes, including Foley's amendment, could be made after the public had a chance to weigh in.

The public hearing for the law will be held at the Legislature's next full meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. May 28 at the Emerson Park Pavilion. The Legislature is likely, but not required, to vote on the law following the hearing.

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Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2252 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin

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