By NEMS Daily Journal
State Senate Elections Chair Terry Burton, R-Newton, and his House counterpart, Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, made one final attempt in recent days to reach a compromise proposal to redraw the state’s four U.S. House districts to adhere to population shifts found by the 2010 Census. The federal courts have said that if the state Legislature could not agree by Monday, it would draw the new districts. Burton recently answered three questions on the issue.
Q. What happens next?
A. Given the time frame with the qualifying deadline being Jan. 13 and the election being in March, the court will have to put a plan in place that will set up the four congressional districts. It will need to be done before the Jan. 13 deadline The congressional candidates will run in those districts. It is similar to what happened 10 years ago when the Legislature could not agree. Time is short, and I hope the courts can get it done by Jan. 13.
Q. Why couldn’t the Legislature get the job done?
A. As with most things, politics had lot to do with it. The Democratic congressman and the Republican congressmen could not agree on a plan. Rep. Reynolds and I put forth several options that we thought might work. The Republicans and Democrats in Congress put forth options. There was no plan that would have allowed us to go to the floor with the votes to pass it. There is no need to come out with a plan and have the cost of a special session, if the other side would kill it.
When we could not come up with a plan that met all that criteria and met the constitutional mandates in regards to one man, one vote, retrogression in the (majority minority 2nd District), we decided the best thing to do was let court take care of it. Some folks had already taken it to court.
Q. How much time did you put into the effort to get a plan through the state Legislature?
A. We started work in February on this and worked all session. We never stopped. I would come up with a plan. Tommy would. The incumbent congressmen would, but we never could come up with one that met all the criteria.