/Ethics Commission Open meetings law not violated in redistricting effort

Ethics Commission Open meetings law not violated in redistricting effort

According to affidavits by Sen. Dean Kirby (R-Pearl), vice chair, and Rep. Jim Beckett (R-Bruce), the chairman of the Ethics Commission, the eight-member Ethics Commission is charged with hearing public officials accused of violating open meetings laws. The commission ruled that the complaint was dismissed. “Official acts, such as deliberations may only be taken when the quorum of public bodies assembles,” the commission wrote in its opinion dismissing the complaint. Six members of the House and six senators must be present for the committee to have a majority. READ MORE: Redistricting Committee accused of violating public meetings law. The ACLU complaint stated that “The extent to which the Committee has done redistricting work so far makes it obvious that the Committee conducted public business in private.” After the November meeting, Chairman Jim Beckett invited members of the Committee to his office to see the U.S. congressional maps that would be offered and adopted by them. But Beckett, Kirby and the Ethics Commission stated that there was never a quorum at any closed-door meeting. According to the Ethics Commission, the ACLU claimed that there is no requirement for a quorum to violate Mississippi’s open meeting law. Based on previous decisions by the state Supreme Court, “That contention was incorrect.” The ACLU can appeal to a state court the Ethics Commission ruling. The NAACP and other groups are likely to challenge the congressional redistricting plan before a federal court. The Redistricting Committee approved the new map in late 2013 and it was finally adopted by the Legislature in January. READ MORE: Mississippi NAACP challenges constitutionality of redistricting plan. Last week, the NAACP informed a federal judge that there were problems with the plan. These included the large geographic area of the Black-majority region in the plan. NAACP lawyers argued that the large district makes it harder to elect an African American U.S. House representative. Most federal law requires that Mississippi has an African American majority U.S. House District because of its large African American population, which is approximately 38%. To adhere to the population shifts determined by the decennial Census, the state must redraw congressional districts every ten years. The Legislature is also currently redrawing the 174 seats in the state House and Senate.