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Legislative redistricting still far from done deal

The shoe is on the other foot, but who gets booted remains to be seen.

     Republican lawmakers, now in the majority for the first time since the 1860s, last week pushed through a House redistricting plan that political observers say threatens white Democrats. The plan pits five sets of sitting House members, with Democrats likely to be on the losing end in four of those contests.

     For our area, though, incumbent lawmakers – both Republican and Democrat – seem to be satisfied with the makeup of their proposed new districts.

     Republican District 92 Rep. Becky Currie would see her coverage area extend farther north into Copiah County while District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, would lose part of western Franklin County in exchange for going eastward into Jefferson Davis County.

     District 91 Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, would lose part of western Lawrence County to Currie, a fact he was not thrilled about since his support was strong in that area in recent elections. For her part, Currie lamented the potential loss of part of Franklin County, but was eager to represent more of Copiah County.

     House and Senate districts must be redrawn every 10 years to reflect shifts in population across the state. The House’s plan was unveiled Wednesday while the Senate’s plan remains to be seen.

     Last year, when Democrats were in control of the House, lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on new district lines. That left the issue to be taken up again this year – now with Republicans in charge of both chambers of the Legislature.

     In 2010, minority Republicans contended the Democrat-drawn lines were unfair. Now that Democrats are the ones on the short end, they are voicing their disapproval of the proposed new lines.

     Such is the nature of politics. The party in power endeavors to make laws, rules and, in this case, legislative district lines that are favorable to them.

     Last year, there was some speculation that GOP lawmakers would be satisfied with federal judges drawing legislative lines. Democrats now could be following a similar path, through a possible lawsuit over the proposed redistricting.

     Since Mississippi remains under regulations in the Voting Rights Act, any changes involving voting and elections must receive pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice. That means the courts, in some form or fashion, will most likely be involved in the state’s latest round of redistricting discussions.

     With the House plan’s future uncertain and the Senate’s plan unknown at this point, there are still many steps to be taken in the redistricting process before legislators know where they stand.