Legislative redistricting debate takes up much of Tuesday at State Capitol

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 7:40 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The largest chunk of debate and time of this Tuesday at the Capitol was spent on legislative redistricting.

With a new census every 10 years comes the need to redraw the boundaries on who represents you at the statehouse.

Maps aren’t being handed out for a geography lesson. Instead, those district lines will dictate the Mississippians these Senators run to represent in the 2023.

“There had to be shifts in the Senate boundaries, Senate district boundaries,” said Sen. Dean Kirby. “And in one of those areas, a district had to be moved to another area of the state.”

Sen. Dean Kirby admitted that the maps usually end up in the court system. But he says the committee tried to stick to the qualifications.

“I wanted to try to protect all of you, all I could,” noted Kirby.

Senator Derrick Simmons offered up an amendment in the form of a differently drawn map.

“A map that maintains the status quo simply dilutes Black voting strength in Mississippi,” explained Simmons.

Simmons unsuccessful amendment would have added four majority Black districts. “More accurately reflect the state’s population,” he said of the alternative map he proposed.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the debate was taken up by Senator Chris McDaniel’s defense of not dissolving District 37 held by Republican Melanie Sojourner and merging it with Democrat Albert Butler’s district.

“In my mind, this is a political assassination of a Republican,” said McDaniel.

“We’re focusing on the wrong things,” noted Sen. Jeremy England. “I don’t like the impression I’m getting in here that we’re trying to draw certain districts to be better for one party or another.”

McDaniel argued that by increasing the Black Voting Age Population, known as BVAP, this would make it nearly impossible for a Republican to win.

“You ought to be interested in moving our state forward regardless of whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, cause Mississippi comes first,” said Sen. David Jordan. “We’re getting bogged down in your paralysis of analysis.”

McDaniel’s amendment failed and the map drawn by the committee passed. The House also passed redistricting plans Tuesday after a much shorter debate.

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