Legislators gave up their authority to redraw the 122 House and 52 Senate districts when they voted Thursday to end the session.
Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who presides over the Senate, recognized Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, for the motion to adjourn. It passed 30-17.
Minutes later, the House, unable to pass legislation by itself, followed suit.
"The feeling is we wanted to hold on and exhaust every possibility we could" to reach a solution, said Rep. Brandon Jones, D-Pascgoula. "But with the Senate going home..."
Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said of the Senate, "Never in my life did I think I would ever live to see the day that a body of this Legislature would willingly cede its authority to a federal court."
Bryant said he is hopeful that a compromise can be reached and that Barbour can call legislators back in special session to adopt it. But if not, a federal judge already is being asked to draw new districts for elections later this year.
Before the session ended, there was one last bit of drama. The House had amended a Senate resolution to incorporate redistricting plans for the two chambers.
Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, asked that the resolution be considered by the Senate Thursday morning. Bryant ruled that it was up to Rules Committee Chair Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, to decide whether to bring the resolution up for consideration.
Bryan, citing a Senate rule that said a majority of the Senate could opt to consider the resolution immediately, challenged Bryant's ruling. Bryan lost his challenge in a 27-22 vote primarily along party lines.
Hewes said he would not bring up the resolution because it was unconstitutional to incorporate the redistricting plans into the resolution that was designed to allow the speaker and lieutenant governor to call the two chambers back if there was an agreement on redistricting.
"We ran it by our legal staff," Hewes said. "The worst thing we can do is take up something that is unconstitutional and set a precedent."
McCoy had ruled that it was proper to place the redistricting plans in the Senate resolution. He said the issue was debated thoroughly in the House "by good attorneys" and conceded both sides made good points.
After Hewes' decision not to call up the resolution, Bryant, who said he agreed with Hewes, decided there was nothing left to do during the 2011 session.
The redistricting issue had been heading for an impasse for several weeks. Bryant had said he would not follow "the gentleman's agreement" of each chamber rubber-stamping the plan of the other house. He insisted that the House plan be fair to Republicans or the Senate would not accept it.
House Apportionment and Elections Chair Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, said the plan was fair to Republicans, and they, in fact, had input in developing it.
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