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First Census Numbers Signal Start of Redistricting Fight

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Dec 2010 07:20am | comments
Mississippi's four U.S, Congressional districts may change in size and shape after Census numbers are put into play.

One of the biggest items on the Mississippi legislative agenda, which starts in January, is likely to be redistricting. State law makers will get their first look at earl 20-10 census numbers later today. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that redistricting could be one of the most contentious battles of the New Year.

The information coming out today is about state wide population, and Senate redistricting chair Terry Burton of Newton thinks Mississippi will keep its four congressmen. It won't be until the New Year when he gets a look at more detailed results.

"The first week in February, we will have census numbers down to the census block level," Burton said, "And show us where the population of the state (is), and where we need to draw the lines for the legislature."

Lawmakers have until the end of the session to finalize districts; otherwise they could have to run for election twice in back to back years. The last time that happened was following the 1990 census over concerns that the lines under-represented black voters.

Lt. Governor Phil Bryant has his eye set on consolidating the districts to reduce what he considers gerrymandering.

"There is some 400 split precincts in the house plan. 100 in the senate plan from 10 years ago. So if we can move along those lines and follow what the Department of Justice says, I think we can reach the position we need to be in redistricting," Bryant said.

On the house side, Speaker Billy McCoy of Rienzi, thinks battles over the district lines are inevitable.

"If we were all Baptist, had all like views and nothing wrong politically what so ever, we would still have a dog fight on reapportionment because somebody is not going to be pleased when you have to readjust the districts because of population," McCoy said.

Politics are bound to play are role in how the lines are drawn, but lawmakers involved in the process are optimistic that it the districts will be fair and equitable.

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Mississippi's four U.S, Congressional districts may change in size and shape after Census numbers are put into play.


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