/Lawmakers redraw congressional districts for first time since 1990s

Lawmakers redraw congressional districts for first time since 1990s

Gov. Tate Reeves signed the redistricting bill that the Legislature approved into law this week to complete the process. The Legislature couldn’t agree on a plan for redrawing the congressional districts after both the 2000 census and the 2010 census. After several lawsuits were filed, federal judges stepped in and drew the districts. Reeves signed the plan earlier in session. It was approved by the Legislature on a party-line vote. However, most of the minorities in the Democrat Party opposed the proposal. District 2 will now extend almost the length of the state, with Adams, Amite Franklin, Franklin, and Walthall counties being added to the district. The district now extends from Tunica in northwest Mississippi to the Louisiana-Mississippi border in southwest Mississippi. DeSoto County, a heavily Republican county, is the only one that does not border the Mississippi River. The state’s only Black-majority congressional district, District 2, has lost more than 9% of its population since 2010, or 65,000 people. READ MORE: Mississippi’s nonwhite population is increasing. According to federal and state law the districts must be redrawn in order to ensure a near equal representation of population. To preserve some compactness in the district, Rep. Bennie Thompson (a Democrat) had suggested that all of his county, Hinds, be moved to District 2. The proposal was rejected by the legislative Republicans who chose to keep several predominantly white neighborhoods in Jackson in District 3. District 3 is a majority-white congressional district. Reeves’ plan will likely result in the continuation of the current partisan breakdown in the state’s congressional delegation, which currently has three Republicans and one Democrat. Many believed that District 3 would have been slightly less competitive if the Thompson plan prevailed. The Thompson plan would have meant that Black voters wouldn’t have been majority in District 3. However, they would have more power than the law. This could open the door to civil rights groups filing a lawsuit. READ MORE: Rep. Bennie Thompson wants Hinds County to be included in his 2nd District. Currently, Republican Michael Guest is representing District 3. State legislators have opposed the inclusion of all of Hinds County in District 2. The plan approved by the Legislature will see District 2 have a slightly higher African American population than District 1. Most likely, federal law would require that Mississippi, which has the nation’s largest Black population, keep an African American majority district.