NAACP Highlights Top IssuesBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Feb 2011 02:14pm |
Mississippi's NAACP is focusing on several key legislative issues for this session. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that activists representing many Mississippi Counties rallied at the capitol.
The top concerns for the NAACP mirror the top issues law makers are dealing with: the budget, payday lending, immigration and redistricting.
Leaders of the prominent minority group are calling for more education funding, an end to payday lending...and also opposing the immigration bills now in conference between the House and Senate.
NAACP president Derek Johnson says redistricting is an important fight because African Americans deserve full representation in Jackson.
“Fairness of redistricting is making sure you comply with the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. And to ensure that individuals across the state have fair representation. So any organized effort under the brand of ‘fair redistricting’ must be watched closely. Particularly, when a political party such as the Republican Party, has organized such and activity,” Johnson said.
Following the 1990's census, minority groups complained to the justice department that they weren't getting fair representation. And the Justice Department agreed and required the state to redraw the lines.
Lt. Governor Phil Bryant has made fair redistricting one of his top priorities. He says while he wants districts to be more compact, he is aware of the need to have minority districts.
“The federal government has said that there is a deviance that you can have. But you have to have; you must under federal law, some majority minority districts. And we are aware of that, but again, gerrymandering is something I think is not fair no matter the circumstance,” Bryant said.
House redistricting chair Tommy Reynolds says not drawing a fair district map in time is an unacceptable failure on the part of the legislature.
“What we need to do is the people’s business in a fair manner and a legal manner and meet all the federal standards that are required,” Reynolds said.
Mississippi's census numbers came out last week. The legislature has until June first, the primary election filing deadline, to get a Justice Department approved map in place for this fall's election.
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