New district maps head to governor but special session continues

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Day five of Alabama’s special legislative session on redistricting has ended with lawmakers sending newly-drawn district maps to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for signing.

Representatives finished up on the floor, passing the new state Senate and State Board of Education maps. The Senate passed the state House and Congressional district maps.

The Senate’s day started with debate on the House and congressional maps. However, the debate and vote for the House maps was delayed by state Sen. Greg Reed.

“We are not going to be comfortable with anyone in another chamber working on senate maps without any engagement from the members of this body,” Reed explained. “I’m asking for this bill to be carried over to the call of the chair.”

And on the plan for a new congressional map, state Sen. Jim McClendon explained throughout the day why the maps should pass as is.

“All the districts are contiguous and reasonably compact, attempting to respect communities of interest and try to preserve cores of existing districts,” McClendon stated.

But with multiple alternative congressional maps offered, it seemed to be the one that got away from senators, both republican and democrat, who wanted it changed. Many of the substitutes focused on keeping counties whole.

“That district itself is a reflection of all those people in that particular area, and it gives them an opportunity to have representation,” said state Sen. Rodger Smitherman.

There is speculation that these maps will end up in the courts, like the last redistricting process, and there is already one underway for the congressional maps.

After the passage of all the maps, Eric Holder, the former attorney general during the Obama administration and current chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, released a statement condemning what he called gerrymandering of the congressional maps.

“With the passage of maps that clearly dilute the influence of Alabama’s communities of color, the state legislature’s Republican majority is running a clinic on how not to have a fair and transparent redistricting process,” Holder’s statement said. “These elected officials had the opportunity to pass maps that reflect the state’s growing diversity while also incorporating input from the public hearings, and they failed.”

While the special session was called to take up the matter of redistricting, the session is not yet over. On Thursday lawmakers will look at bills that could exempt employees from getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The legislation has received a favorable vote from the House Health Committee and it will be debated on the House floor and possibly passed Thursday.

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