Battle over redrawing district lines wages on - - Jackson, MS

Battle over redrawing district lines wages on

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By Mike McDaniel

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - How long district lines will take to be drawn in the Magnolia State is up to the State Senate and some senators believe it may take a little longer. The House approved the Senate's plan Tuesday, but not before adding their own embattled plan back in, which already failed in the Senate once. Top republicans say they don't think the support will be there to pass in the senate.

"We're going to look at it very carefully and I believe what we need to do is send it to conference committee like we do so many bills that have conflict here, we send it to conference. We appoint conferees and we work out our differences," said Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant.

Meanwhile, those in support of the House plan say the Senate should follow House's approval.

"I would say concur and get it over with. A conference will not serve any useful purpose," said Democratic Representative Percy Watson.

House Speaker Billy McCoy told lawmakers Wednesday he would refuse to allow a conference if the Senate does not concur, and time is running out.

"We need to take care of this ourselves and get it done before the session ends," said Republican Senator Billy Hudson.

If it's not done in time, it will be up to the court to draw lines. Some lawmakers say it all comes down to one thing and one thing only, politics and the fight for political control. Under the House, controlled by Democrats, Bryant says the plan has only one purpose and it's simply not fair.  

"If you just look at what they've done. It is designed to make certain that only 52 Republicans are ever elected," said Bryant.

In a House with 122 seats, that would ensure Democrats stay in control under a democratic House speaker. House Democrats say it's Republicans who are simply trying to overtake the House and using squiggly district lines to do it.

"The ultimate issue is control of the House. It's going to be very, very difficult as I see it to come up with a plan at this particular point that favors the Republicans taking control of the Mississippi House of Representatives," said Watson.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure Thursday.

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