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State Senate OKs compromise proposal on redistricting

By Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Staff and Wire Reports

This article was originally published April 6, 2011 at 9:48 a.m. Updated April 6, 2011 at 1:27 p.m.

redistricting-compromise-map

Redistricting compromise map.

— The Arkansas Senate today approved a compromise proposal to draw new boundaries for the state’s four U.S. House districts.

The plan passed on a vote of 20-to-13 and moves to the House of Representatives, which is scheduled to meet tomorrow.

“There’s not a map that pleases everybody. There’s probably not a map that pleases anybody,” said Sen. Robert Thompson, the redistricting bill’s sponsor and the top Democrat in the Senate. “This is not my first choice and it’s probably not my second or third choice. But it’s something I can live with.”

This proposal was developed yesterday in negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.

The speaker of the House said today that he thinks the plan may have a difficult time gaining the support of the House committee that handles redistricting legislation and that a conference committee may be necessary to resolve a deadlock between the House and the Senate.

Unlike the House-backed proposal, the Senate bill does not move the northwest city of Fayetteville into the only congressional district in the state held by a Democrat. Republicans are heavily opposed to that idea, which they say was aimed primarily at helping Democrats. The House proposal was rejected by a Senate panel on Monday.

Opponents of the Senate bill said they weren’t pleased at the lack of time the public was being given to review the proposal, which was introduced and backed by a Senate panel on Tuesday.

“This came out of nowhere,” said Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, D-Crossett, who voted against the proposal.

The Senate proposal splits up two counties. Searcy County would be split between the 1st and 3rd Districts while Pope County would be split between the 3rd and 4th districts.

Madison, Franklin and Johnson counties would move from the 3rd to the 4th district. Yell County would move from the 2nd District to the 4th District. The 1st District would gain Desha, Chicot and Ashley counties, which would be moved from the 4th District. Supporters of the proposal said it would create a more concentrated district of counties that make up the state’s Delta region.

Supporters of the House plan — which had been called the “Fayetteville Finger” by legislators — said they believed moving Fayetteville was the best way to keep the districts relatively equal in population. Using the latest census figures, the ideal population for each of the state’s congressional districts would be about 728,980 people. To meet that goal, the 2nd Congressional District in central Arkansas would have to lose at least 14,000 people and the 3rd District in northwest Arkansas would have to lose at least 100,000 people.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments on: State Senate OKs compromise proposal on redistricting

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 total comments

Jjackk says... April 6, 2011 at 12:13 p.m.

From the Fayetteville finger to just...... the finger.

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FreeGlenCanyon says... April 6, 2011 at 2:31 p.m.

Since Madison County is known to locals as "Booger County," I suggest we call this the "Booger Pickin' Finger" plan.

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