ATLANTA — The House passed and sent legislation to the governor Wednesday to add a Republican senator to the Augusta legislative delegation.
The measure, Senate Bill 430, already passed the Senate and now awaits the Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.
Rep. Wayne Howard, a Democrat who leads the delegation, argued that the bill is a mistake because it dilutes the voting strength of Richmond County’s black residents, who make up about half the population but would be reduced to one-third of the delegation’s Senate seats.
“It reduces our 50 percent voting strength,” he said. “How do you justify that?”
“I justify that by Senate action and the two senators involved,” said Rep. Roger Lane, the chairman of the House redistricting committee.
The bill moves 630 voters along the Savannah River from the district of Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, to the district of Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling. Both agreed to the change, but Howard complained that the number of voters is too few to influence the election in Jackson’s district.
Rep. Earnest Smith, D-Augusta, noted that neither Stone nor Jackson lives in Richmond County.
– Walter Jones, Morris News Service