Legislature gives final OK to redistricting plan
from staff and wire reports
March 22, 2002
JACKSON State House and Senate members approved each other's redistricting plans Thursday, sprinkling brief discussions with historical and biblical references.
Members of the Senate, this is the plan the House hath made. Rejoice and be glad in it,'' Senate Elections Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said as he brought the House map up for consideration.
That was the only discussion before state senators approved the House plan 37-2. The House debated about five minutes before approving the Senate plan 105-11.
Both redistricting plans are expected to head to the U.S. Department of Justice for final approval before being used in the next legislative elections set for 2003.
Unlike most proposals approved by the Mississippi Legislature, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove does not have an opportunity to sign or veto legislative redistricting plans.
State lawmakers redraw their 122 House and 52 Senate districts every 10 years. Any changes in districts must reflect population shifts in the state, based on statistics from the latest U.S. Census.
State Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, and chairman of the House Apportionment and Elections, said it's tradition for the House and Senate to approve each other's redistricting plan without changes.
It's sort of like you had in the Cold War mutually assured destruction between the United States and the Soviet Union,'' said Reynolds, whose panel helped craft the new House districts. If a war started, we both would be in bad shape.''
State Rep. Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, said he was one of the 11 voting against the Senate plan because it didn't create as many majority-black districts as it could have.
His arguments echoed those made this week by his wife, state Sen. Barbara Blackmon, D-Canton.
State Rep. Keith Montgomery, R-Clinton, said he voted against the Senate plan because it split his hometown among three districts. He said he would have preferred the city be in one district.
Montgomery is among several House members whose precincts are being absorbed by surrounding districts.
Also losing districts are state Reps. Andrew Ketchings, R-Natchez, and Tom Cameron, I-Greenville, and Sen. Tim Johnson, R-Madison.
State Reps. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, and Rob Roberson, R-Starkville, were tossed into the same district and could compete against each other in 2003.