The Senate and House chambers are now quiet at the State Capitol after lawmakers voted to end the 2011 Legislative Session Thursday afternoon. Left behind are reminders of what was left unsettled.
"We just cannot take an unfair plan for the voters of the state of Mississippi," said Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant.
It's a House redistricting plan Bryant says was simply unfair.
"It would be terrible for us to adopt an unfair plan just for political purposes and that's what the House wanted us to do," said Bryant.
Now, redistricting will head to a federal court and lawmakers may have to run in two elections; a bill to be footed by taxpayers. According to the Secretary of State's office, an additional primary election would cost taxpayers anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000, plus additional costs to counties.
In response to the Senate not approving the House plan, House Speaker Billy McCoy issued a statement. "The Senate is knowingly forcing the taxpayers of this state to pay for two legislative elections and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses, all in the name of hoping to achieve a partisan advantage in the upcoming campaigns," said McCoy.
Meanwhile, Bryant says two elections and the cost could wind up being a better route.
"If that's what it takes to get a fair redistricting plan, I think it's a great investment," said Bryant. "Two elections would purge I think some of those old politicians that serve only their self-interests."
By going to a court, Bryant says he's confident the Senate plan will hold up while the one from the House gets an overhaul.
"The reason that the leadership of the house fought so hard to get us to adopt this plan is they know the courts won't take it. They know that."
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