Redistricting back in the spotlight; controversy as well - - Jackson, MS

Redistricting back in the spotlight; controversy as well

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

In a move to bring redistricting back up before the now extended session ends on Monday, lawmakers are considering a resolution to allow the lieutenant governor and house speaker to come together and see if there's going to be a deal and if so, then lawmakers could be called back to the capitol.

"There's no reason for us sitting around having a staring contest wondering if something is going to get done. I believe that if we go home and the speaker and lieutenant governor can sit down, they can come to some conclusion or at least move the process along," said Senator Billy Hewes.

The Senate passed the resolution on Tuesday. The House will take it up Wednesday.

"What needs to happen is both houses to pass the work of the other house," said Rep. Thomas Reynolds.

In these final days, there's now a new front on the redistricting battle, an alleged meeting between state senators, some lawmakers say could taint the entire process.  During the meeting, an anonymous online blog alleges Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant made comments suggesting the fifth circuit chief judge had been contacted about the state redistricting issue and lawsuit and that the judge would "take care of" legislative republicans because Governor Haley Barbour had handled the judges nomination to the fifth circuit.

That grabbed the attention of House Speaker Billy McCoy who sent letters to both Bryant and Barbour inquiring about the post, asking if the comments were true. McCoy referred to the alleged comments as disturbing which is a feeling shared by others.

"If that did occur with those senators and the lieutenant governor brings up some real question that raise as to judicial integrity and judicial independence," said Rep. Bobby Moak.

Some lawmakers say consider the source.

"You hear things everyday and they may be good for gossip but I don't place a whole lot of stock on anonymous blogs," said Hewes.

In response to McCoy's letter, Bryant responded with his own saying in part, "I want to assure you that I did not make the comments reported in the blog. I am sure you know that you cannot believe everything that you read on the Internet."

Governor Barbour's office responded saying the governor has not spoken to the chief judge.

With disagreements, lawsuits and now Internet accusations, lawmakers say their only lingering issue may be what overshadows the entire session.

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