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Committee Approves Senate Redistricting Plan

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 Mar 2011 11:41am | comments
Lawmakers examine the Senate map.

A new senate redistricting map could see a vote on the floor of the Senate as soon as Wednesday. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the new legislative redistricting map quickly passed a joint committee yesterday.

A House-Senate Redistricting Committee quickly approved a Senate version of the state's 52 Senate districts Monday afternoon.

The plan reduces the number of split precincts from 129 to 17.

Senate redistricting chairman Terry Burton of Newton says the plan also increases the number of majority-minority districts from 12 to 15, including a new majority-minority district in Hattiesburg.

"We were involved in a law suit 10 years ago that said in the Hattiesburg area, the numbers there required a majority-minority district. We won that suit. But the numbers showed that there was indeed the ample opportunity to draw a majority minority district in the pine belt area and that is what we have done," Burton said.

That district is currently represented by Republican Senator Tom King of Petal, who is resigning to running for the transportation commission.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith a Republican from Brookhaven considers that district particularly troublesome.

"The Hattiesburg district has some issues that I have gotten lots of telephone calls about. But we are going to look at the final product and make some decisions in the next few days," Hyde-Smith said.

The plan is expected to come to the Senate floor on Wednesday but it could be derailed by Lt. governor Phil Bryant who has promised to release his own plan for the state senate.

Senator Hillman Frazier of Jackson says the Lt. Governor should trust the committee's opinion.

"I haven't seen his plan but that is very unusual. When you appoint a committee to do a job, you should have confidence in the chairman that he is going to do the right thing. Chairman Burton conducted hearings around the state. Trying to hear from everybody, receiving comments from the public and also from members. I think you are going to have to respect his work," Frazier said.

The House plan is also awaiting Senate approval.

Governor Haley Barbour released a statement yesterday opposing the House redistricting plan saying it "would leave many Mississippians without fair representation," especially in suburbs around Jackson and Hattiesburg 

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Lawmakers examine the Senate map.


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