By Bobby Harrison / Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
The Joint Legislative Redistricting Committee is conducting a series of public meetings across the state to get input on legislative and congressional redistricting that must be done every 10 years based on new census data. The Legislature must act quickly on legislative redistricting in the 2011 session after the state receives the census data because legislative elections will be held later in the year. State Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, serves as a member of the joint committee and was chair of the Senate Elections Committee from 2000-04 when the last round of redistricting occurred. He answered questions last week from the Journal’s Bobby Harrison:
Q: Will the Legislature be able to accomplish its task in time for the regularly scheduled elections in 2011?
A: The Legislature has a duty to pass a redistricting plan next year. The voters should demand no less. I’m confident we will pass a fair redistricting plan.
Q: How big of an issue will politics be in the legislative redistricting effort?
A: Traditionally the lieutenant governor appoints Senate committees and assigns bills to committees, but those powers are granted that individual by the Senate. After the 2007 elections, Democrats had a majority of Senate seats, but the lieutenant governor, Phil Bryant, was a Republican. Rather than attempting to change the Senate rules and vest those powers in another entity, we reached an agreement with Lt. Gov. Bryant that the Democrats would support the existing rules and that he would be fair with committee assignments and with redistricting.
I am certain that the lieutenant governor will keep his word and we will have a fair Senate proposal.
Q: What would you change from the current plan that was adopted last decade?
A: The current plan has far too many split precincts. We need to keep those at a minimum, and I’m confident we can.