Day one: Split decision
By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Nov. 2, 2001
JACKSON Local lawmakers are hoping Meridian and parts of East Mississippi will fare better now that legislative conferees have been assigned to solve a congressional redistricting puzzle.
On Thursday, the House adopted a so-called "Tornado Plan" that would split Lauderdale County between two separate districts. The measure passed 78-43 with all Meridian area House members voting against it.
Meanwhile, the Senate passed a plan fashioned by Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck on a vote of 31-19. That plan, supported by state Sens. Videt Carmichael, D-Meridian, and Terry Burton, D-Newton, and opposed by Sen. Billy Thames, D-Mize, would keep Lauderdale County intact in a new central district. Parts of Clarke County, however, would be in a new coastal district.
With both houses adopting vastly different versions, a conference committee was appointed to try to work out differences. Conferees from the Senate include Sens. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, Bennie Turner, D-West Point, and Dean Kirby, R-Pearl. House conferees are Reps. Bobby Moody, D-Louisville, Ferr Smith, D-Carthage, and Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston.
Conferees met briefly late Thursday, and were to meet again at 9:30 a.m. today.
Unhappy House members
Going in, most East Mississippi lawmakers wanted two things. First, they wanted to see all of Lauderdale County in one congressional district. And second, they hoped the county would be put in the central district, not a coastal district.
They got neither with the Tornado Plan.
Nearly one-third of Lauderdale County's population and all of Clarke County were placed in a new coast district. The rest of Lauderdale County would be placed in a central district.
State Reps. Tommy Horne, Greg Snowden, Eric Robinson, and Charles Young all voted against the Tornado Plan on final passage.
Horne, meanwhile, was opposed to any splitting of Lauderdale County.
Snowden put it a little more bluntly.
Robinson, who represents parts of Clarke and Lauderdale county, said he was surprised when he first saw the plan.
Young said he expected the Legislature to reach a compromise. He added it is not unthinkable that part of Lauderdale County could end up in the Coast District.
The Tuck Plan put all of Lauderdale County in the central district, but attached most of Clarke County to the coast.
East Mississippi's delegation in the Senate generally supported the Tuck plan.
Thames, who represents, Clarke, Jasper and Smith counties, voted against the Tuck plan.
Most agree that how long it will take the conference committee to hammer out a compromise is anyone's guess. The House and Senate return into session at 10 a.m. At noon, Tuck and House Speaker Tim Ford will meet to gauge the committee's progress. They will then decide whether to keep the members at the Capitol or send them home. Whether the Legislature will go back into session on Sunday or Monday has not been decided.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's where Lauderdale County's voting precincts would fall under the Tornado Plan, named for its shape, which passed the Mississippi House of Representatives Thursday, 78-43.
Congressional District 1: Precinct 1, Precinct 5, Prospect, Odom, East Marion, Precinct 2, Pickard, Precinct 16, Precinct 17, Precinct 18, Clarkdale, Culpepper, Valley, Causeyville, Precinct 19, Vimville, Whynot, Zero, Mt. Gilead.
Congressional District 2: Andrews Chapel, Bailey, West Dalewood, Marion, New Lauderdale, Precinct 6, Alamucha, Daleville, Precinct 14, East Lauderdale, Kewanee, Toomsuba, Russell, Center Ridge, Precinct 3, Center Hill, Collinsville, Martin, West Lauderdale, Pine Springs, Obadiah, Suqualena, Precinct 4, Precinct 9, Precinct 10, Precinct 11, Precinct 12, Precinct 15, Sageville, Precinct 7, Precinct 8, Meehan, South Nellieburg, South Russell.