Proposals change local districts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

The proposed redistricting keeps the bulk of Hosue Distrcit 92 in Covington County, but adds a portion of Coffee County near Kinston.

If the state legislature approves currently-proposed reapportionment maps, both the senate and house districts that include Covington County will be redrawn.

States are required to review and redraw district lines after each U.S. Census. The legislature did not address the issue in its 2012 regular session, which by state law ended last night at midnight. Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to call a special session to address the issue.

The Legislature’s Reapportionment Committee has approved the proposed districts; however, the changes must be approved by both the Alabama House and Senate, as well as the U.S. Justice Department before becoming official.

Under the realignment, there are big changes to the local Senate district, a seat currently held by longtime legislator Jimmy Holley, R-Elba. The new map shows the senate district would grow to include all of Pike County and Ft. Rucker; however, it would lose Houston County areas around Pinkard, Midland City and outside of Dothan.

The proposal also changes House District 92, a seat currently held by Andalusia resident Mike Jones. Currently, the district includes all of Covington County and portion of Escambia County. The current proposal redraws the lines to add an areas in Coffee County to include Kinston and the outlying county areas along Ala. Hwy. 87 and 141.

Legislators had asked Bentley to issue a call for a special session starting today, arguing that having a special session immediately after the general session of the legislature would be less expensive.

The peach area on this map shows Senate District 31, which include Covington County. A proposed plan would alter the district to include all of Pike County.

However, without a super majority vote, the legislature can only address items listed in the governor’s call in a special session. The co-chairman of the Legislature’s reapportionment committee, Republican Sen. Gerald Dial of Lineville, said the governor appeared to be waiting to see if the Legislature approved the state education budget and General Fund budget on the final day of the regular session before issuing the call.

If one of the budgets failed to pass, he could add it to the agenda of a special session if he calls for one, Dial said. Items that a governor has on the agenda for a special session can pass by a majority vote. Items not on his agenda require a larger vote.

As the Legislature headed into the final hours of its regular session Wednesday, it still had budget work to do. The Education Trust Fund budget was sent to the governor at about 7 p.m. At 9 p.m., the General Fund budget was yet to be approved.

Much of the last day was taken up with about proposed changes to last year’s immigration bill and Jefferson County’s proposed occupational tax.

Bentley signed another two bills into law yesterday – one allowing for bigger beer containers and another to increase the power of the state’s sentencing committee.