Georgia Senate, House panels OK redistricting maps

ATLANTA - The Senate and House redistricting committees voted Tuesday along party lines to pass the proposed map drafted by the Republican chairman.

Senate Democrats blasted Re­publicans for changing the rules to railroad their plan through, and one senator accused the chairman of lying.

Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, the chair­man of the Senate committee tasked with revising district boundaries to reflect population changes from the census, denied both charges. He said he did a better job than federal judges did in drawing boundaries now in use.

"I think it's safe to say we took what the courts gave us and improved upon it," said Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg.

Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, challenged him because he drew his own district northward to take part of her district in the southern part of Fulton County.

They disagreed on the details of private conversations the two had about her district.

"I don't want to call you a bald-faced liar, but I did not tell you I wanted to give up Chattahoochee Hills," she said. "... I know it's not going to change anything, but I want it on the record that this senator got shafted."

Democrats missed the deadline for submitting an alternative. They would have had to deliver their map to the committee 24 hours before its meeting, but they were shoot­ing for the committee to meet today because the usual Senate rules would not have allowed an earlier committee session.

The Senate voted, however, Monday to change deadlines, allowing the committee to meet a day sooner.

Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams said he had told Democratic leaders over the weekend the committee would meet Tuesday.

"They knew that ahead of time," said Williams, R-Lyons. "What we're trying to do is not stay up here a month and spend the state's money."

Officials estimate each day of a special session costs taxpayers $45,000.

The full House and Senate could vote on the legislative maps as early as Thursday after today's approval by each chamber's rules committees.

House Democrats did submit a substitute to the House redistricting committee. It paired fewer incumbents against one another in the same district and didn't seek to boost Democrats' seats. The committee voted it down.

 

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