Alabama lawmakers spar over proposed legislative lines

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A late arrival walks up the steps of the illuminated Alabama Capitol in Montgomery. Ala., as Gov. Don Siegelman delivers his State-of-the-State address inside, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2000. Lawmakers and educators can be seen gathered in the windows of the House chamber on the second and third floors of the Capitol. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) — With a special session to redraw district lines in Alabama just two days away, lawmakers tasked with getting proposed new lines ready for debate are finally detailing their proposals.

The joint legislative committee on reapportionment met for the final time before the beginning of the special session. Democrats on the committee say the process is being rushed and believe Black residents are not properly represented in the proposed district lines.

“We cannot disregard transparency based on urgency,” said Rep. Sam Jones, D-Mobile.

A late population count by the U.S. Census pushed the redrawing of Congressional, state senate, house and school board lines back by several months. Democrats unsuccessfully pushed to add a second majority, minority district to the congressional map proposal. 

Currently, and with the proposed new mapping, the 7th Congressional District would remain the only majority Black district. However, the state school board which also has seven districts will have two.

“The Congressional District is the only district, the only map that we would draw as a body that does not represent the 26% of African Americans. It only represents 13% of the African American population,” said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

Rep. Chris Pringle, the Republican committee co-chair from Mobile, pushed back, telling Democrats the proposed maps are just the first step of the process.

“You will have time in both the House standing committee and the Senate standing committee and the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate to fully vet and look at these bills,” Pringle said.

All four district maps passed out of the committee along party lines and will now head for debate in the House and Senate.

On Thursday, lawmakers will return to Montgomery for the start of the special session on reapportionment on Oct. 28.

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