Mississippi's House passes redistricting map

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March 5, 2011

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Figure 4: This map shows the proposed Mississippi House Districts after the 2010 census.

Jackson, MISSISSIPPI: In a special weekend session, Mississippi's House of Representatives passed a redistricting plan for the state's 122 House seats, taking a voice vote with no debate to dispose of the previous day's motion to reconsider, thereby allowing the map to stand.[1]

On Friday, March 4, legislators were set to decide on the map, but instead voted 65-56 on a motion to reconsider, triggering today's special session. The map emerged from the Standing Joint Legislative Committee on Reapportionment, a committee composed of ten members from each the Senate and the House. While the Senate membership is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, the House contingent consists of nine Democrats and a single Republican.

However, that Committee had unanimously approved the House map on Thursday, sending it up to the entire House for the first look most members had gotten at the new districts.

The bill was attacked by House Republicans, the chamber's minority, as an unfair piece of legislation. On the March 4 initial vote, the map was largely decided on a party line vote, with only four Republicans voting for it and seven Democrats against. The motion to reconsider was key in setting up this morning special session, denying legislators opposed to the map the opportunity to recall the bill for reconsideration on Monday, and this denying them the weekend to work on an opposing plan.[2]

Earlier, Republicans had indicated they would prepare their own map and present it as an amendment to the map prepared by the Standing Joint committee. That possibility is now gone, as the House map now goes to the Senate for approval.

Mississippi's Senate is controlled by Republicans, and its President is Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, who has publicly said he will not continue the tradition by which each chamber essentially rubber stamps its colleagues' plan. Both House Speaker William "Billy" McCoy and Representatives Tom Reynolds, the House Chair of the Reapportionment Committee, were reportedly not pleased.

In addition to considering the House bill, Senators are also expected to take up their own map, redrawing the state's 22 Senate seats, on Monday, March 7. Legislative seats must be finished as soon as possible to accommodate U.S. Justice Department Review of the plans and for fall elections. Congressional Districts, on the other hand, are a lower priority and may not be taken up until January 2012.

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