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Senate To Begin Floor Debate of Redistricting

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 09 Mar 2011 01:21pm | comments
The 'Burton Plan' (left) versus the 'Bryant plan' (right)

The Mississippi Senate is expected to debate the Senate redistricting map early this morning. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Senators will likely discuss more than one map.

The Senate rules committee approved a redistricting map known as the 'Bryant Plan' late Wednesday afternoon, sending it to the floor of the Senate for debate.

It has been named after Lt. Governor Phil Bryant and its key feature is three Republican friendly districts around Hattiesburg.

Standing before a blown up copy of two different redistricting maps, Senate rules committee chairman Billy Hewes of Gulfport explains why he considers the Bryant map the most fair.

"The overriding concern for me is less the gerrymander than it is the removal of a Republican district from an area that had 3 and has grown significantly in population and ends up with only two," Hewes said.

Some senators say they will try to revive the original re-mapping plan sponsored by the Senate redistricting chairman Terry Burton of Newton, which turns one Hattiesburg area district into a majority-minority district.

Senator Tom King of Petal, whose departure from the Senate clears the way for the new district, also contends that the Bryant map is not gerrymandered because it would maintain existing party representation.

"I think the Bryant Plan is more of a fair map or a plan because you are not doing away with a Republican district," King said.

Democrats like Senator Hob Bryan of Amory scoff at the claim that the Bryant plan is any more compact or fair than the Burton Plan.

"Any person that looks at their proposed district and Senator Burton's propsed district and can find any aesthetic difference between the two is sharper than I," Bryan said.

Democratic Senators might also try to re-introduce the house redistricting plan....which was killed by a Senate committee this week....as an amendment to the Senate map in an attempt to push it through the Senate.

That could further complicate an already contentious redistricting battle. 

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The 'Burton Plan' (left) versus the 'Bryant plan' (right)


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