Legislative redistricting maps have been passed by the Mississippi legislature to redraw the state’s political lines. Population shifts required major changes to districts throughout the state.
Members of the House and Senate have passed bills to redraw district lines for their respective chambers. Nearly every district received adjustments, with several facing significant changes or relocations. In the House, one Republican seat was dissolved as current District 20 Representative Chris Brown of Nettleton told fellow lawmakers he will not run for re-election. And House Minority Leader Robert Johnson of Natchez says the house map will unfairly preserve the state’s Republican majority.
“The chairman is right. His plan does not reduce the number [of POC majority districts]. It keeps it at the status quo of 42,” says Johnson. “But people of color make up close to 44% of the state. 42 districts is only 34% of the state. Let a redistricting plan reflect the population and the people of the state of Mississippi.”
Another Republican seat is being dissolved in the Senate’s redistricting map, sparking heavy debate amongst the chamber’s Majority party. Parts of District 37, held by Republican Senator Melanie Sojourner, will be combined with District 36, held by Democratic Senator Albert Butler. District 36 will be relocated to create a new district in South Rankin and Smith Counties. Speaking on the Senate floor, Sojourner objected to this change, which would place her in a more competitive district.
“You stated a moment ago that the Delta had lost 65,000 people in population,” asked Sojourner.
Senate Pro Tem Dean Kirby, who presented the bill, responded “I believe it’s over 65,000.”
“So that is a little greater than a Senate district. So one would think that if there was a need to collapse a district in the state, then it would probably occur in the area of the state where we lost 65,000 people.”
Supporters of both plans say the maps comply with both state and federal requirements and meet the population standards within 1%.