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Senate Approves the ‘Burton Plan’ For Redistricting

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 10 Mar 2011 01:28pm | comments
Senators examine the competing maps.

The Mississippi House could have a chance to vote on a Senate redistricting map as soon as today. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Senators had to choose between two competing redistricting plans.

After nearly two hours of floor debate, Mississippi Senators voted to approve what has become known as the 'Burton Plan' for redistricting.

The plan, named for Senate Redistricting chairman Terry Burton of Newton, won support over a competing map proposed by Lt. Governor Phil Bryant.

Senator Burton says support for his redistricting map is a reward for two years of hard work.

“I think we have done a great job in getting the numbers and getting the districts drawn and getting a map to the Senate floor by the first full week in March, which was my goal. We have done that. We have met that goal. Now if we can just get it to the Justice Department for approval we can have elections on time,” Burton said.

The key difference between the plans is that Bryant's map would have maintained three republican friendly districts around Hattiesburg but the Burton plan would turn one of them into a majority minority district.

After the vote Bryant stood with Burton on the floor of the Senate saying that there were no hard feelings between the two men.

“We have worked carefully together. We talked about this continually. We respect each other’s opinion so we thought it was a good idea to debate it and let the Senate debate it. Which we did and we came out with a plan. The process continues,” Bryant said.

The plan could come up in for a vote in the House as soon as today.

Earlier this week, a republican-controlled Senate committee killed a democratic-house redistricting plan.

House Redistricting Chairman Tommy Reynolds of Charleston says he does not plan to meddle with the Senate map.

“As far as I am concerned, I will not look beyond the actions of the state Senate. I respect them and I trust that they will respect us,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds says he still supports the house redistricting plan and is looking for options to revive it.

One likely possibility is that house democrats will attach their redistricting plan as an amendment to the Senate plan and send both back to the Senate.

Senators would then have to approve both maps or try to work out their differences in a conference between the two chambers. 

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Senators examine the competing maps.


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