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Report To The People

Congressional Districts Would Be Reapportioned Under HB 853

By Tommy Reynolds

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 853 by a vote of 119 to 0.

House Bill 853, which I introduced, provides a legislative vehicle to reapportion Mississippi’s four United States congressional districts. After the results of the United States 2010 Census are released later this week, the state’s four congressional districts will have to be reapportioned to assure that each congressional seat represents an equal number of people.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that each congressional district must be as equal in population as “practicable,” not practical. In state legislative redistricting, the courts have typically allowed a 10 percent variation or difference in population between the largest district in population and the smallest district. In United States Congressional redistricting, the courts have said that districts must be exactly equal in population as is possible.

This means that after the census is released, the congressional districts will have to be redrawn to assure that they are almost exactly equal within a percent or two in population of each district.

The current districts were drawn by federal court ten years ago when Mississippi went from five to four congressional districts. The Bill that I introduced as a vehicle for congressional redistricting would put into the law the current districts. The bill was passed and introduced before the deadline for action on general bills this year. The bill now goes to the Senate, which can amend the measure and send it for conference committee back to the House.

If the House and Senate can agree on a joint congressional redistricting plan, it would mean that there would not have to be a costly special session for this purpose, nor would there be any need for a federal court to set the boundaries of these districts. Preliminary figures show that there will have to be some changes in the congressional district boundaries. It is my hope that these changes can be minimized so that voters will be spared confusion and the state can be spared the cost of a special session of the Legislature.

Last week I chaired a House Appropriations Sub-Committee meeting, where the Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality presented the agency’s budget request for next year. We discussed the department’s role in the British Petroleum oil spill clean-up and follow-up efforts.

If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3365. The phone number in my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203, and my residence phone number is (662) 473-2571.

I can also be contacted in writing at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965, or at my office address of P.O. Box 220, Charleston, MS 38921.

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