Barbour nixes special session for redistricting

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Gov. Haley Barbour will not call a special session to deal with legislative redistricting, despite the requests of the chairmen of the House and Senate Election committees.
“The governor has no intention of calling a special session,” Barbour spokeswoman Laura Hipp said Thursday.
Only the governor can call a special session.
Hipp’s statement came after House Apportionment and Elections Chair Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, sent a letter Thursday asking the governor to call a special session.
On May 5, Senate Election Chair Terry Burton, R-Newton, made a similar request to the governor.
Earlier this week, a three-judge federal panel ruled that legislative elections will occur this year under the current districts, though they are malapportioned based on the 2010 census.
But the judges did say that if the Legislature could come up with a redistricting plan that was approved by the Justice Department, the elections could be held under the new lines.
The 2011 session ended without the Legislature agreeing on a plan because of partisan bickering.
In his letter, Reynolds said, “Calling a special session would allow the Legislature to complete the task rather than forcing the courts to solve this for us. The court desires us to do our part. This would give us an opportunity to perform our constitutional duty.”
Earlier Burton said he has continued to work with Reynolds even though the session has ended, and “I believe we can come up with compromise plans in both the House and Senate that can work.”
The qualifying deadline for legislative candidates is June 1.

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@journalinc.com.