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Legislative Session Ends Without Redistricting Deal

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 Apr 2011 10:35am | comments

The Mississippi legislature has ended its 2011 session. law makers may have gone home....but that doesn't mean their work was finished. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on a last ditch effort by Senate Democrats to force a vote on Redistricting.

Before the Legislative session ended Thursday Democratic Senators tried to force a vote on the redistricting maps.

Senator Hob Bryan of Amory attempted to bring a resolution to the Senate floor that included redistricting maps for both the House and Senate.

Lt. Governor Phil Bryant decided that only Rules Committee chairman Billy Hewes of Gulfport could do that

Senator Bryan says the Senate should have been allowed to vote on the two maps.

"Every action the Lt. Governor has taken in the past two months has been headed toward going to court. And right now it appears it he is successful and he and Senator Hewes have managed to get us into court," Bryan said.

Senator Billy Hewes disagrees, saying the resolution was unconstitutional.

"We want to allow a vote. But the proper procedure is to go to conference and get something that we work out, get it to both floors and move on. So we want to do it, but there is a policy and a procedure that we are trying to put into practice," Hewes said.

While The House and Senate ended its 2011 session on Thursday ,,,he fate of redistricting was probably sealed weeks ago.

Before the first senate vote on the House map, Lt. Governor Bryant asked Republican Senators to sign a pledge indicating that they would not vote for the House plan.

"I don't believe there is anything sinister about it, it was more in a manner of me trying to keep up with the votes," Bryant said, "So I said 'well i'll tell you what, let's just write everybody's name down and so that way I won't have to keep bugging you. I won't have to keep bothering you and saying are you still with me are you still going to do that'. Those that said 'I really don't want to sign something,' I understand that."

The state is required to redraw voting lines every ten years to adjust for population changes.

It is not clear what the next step in the redistricting process will be.

The Mississippi NAACP filed a lawsuit last month seeking to block any elections in the current districts because of dramatic population differences.

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