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Redistricting Fight Revived in House

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 06 Apr 2011 10:19am | comments
Rep. Tommy Reynolds reads from a dictionary during debate.

The long battle over redistricting the state is once again headed back to the Senate. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that for the second time, the Mississippi house has approved new district lines for both chambers of the legislature.

This time, Representatives attached the maps to a separate resolution that would have allowed the law makers to leave town unless they are called back by the Lt. Governor and Speaker.

That tactic angered House Republicans who call it unconstitutional.

Representative Greg Snowden of Meridian:

"This constitution says we do this by joint resolution. Section 254 explicitly says that. Now if you don't think this constitution makes a difference, you just wait until this summer and this fall and just will see how much a difference this constitution makes," Snowden said.

Democrats defended the approach as legitimate and legal.

House redistricting chairman Tommy Reynolds of Charleston waved a dictionary from the podium and accused Republicans of playing word games.

"Now you know what they say 'concurrent means in here? Joint! and equal in authority. Do you think that our supreme court does not understand what joint is and what the Merriam-Webster dictionary says," Reynolds said.

The house passed the resolution with 62 votes, the exact numbered needed for approval.

The resolution is being held for more debate today before it is released to the Senate.

However, Lt. Governor Phil Bryant says he thinks the resolution is unconstitutional and might not bring it to the Senate floor.

"If we believe it is unconstitutional, and I have taken an oath of office to uphold the constitution, than what role do I have?" Bryant said.

Bryant says there is still time left to deal with Redistricting even if the Senate does not vote today.

The state must redraw its voting lines every ten years to adjust for shifts in population. If the legislature fails to approve new maps, it could fall to a three judge panel to draw the maps.

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Rep. Tommy Reynolds reads from a dictionary during debate.


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