Lawmakers Take On Congressional Redistricting

House members voted in favor of a plan that would give Congressman Ronnie Shows a district that would have a high percentage of black voters, and that's something the congressman says he needs to win.

The proposal divides the state's three largest universities into different districts. But it also places two military bases, Meridian Naval and Columbus Air Force, in the same district. Some house members called the plan a fair product.

"It keeps the great majority of the people in the first district, the existing second district and the existing fifth district in the same congressional district," Rep. Tommy Reynolds said. "It allows a fair fight district between the incumbents of two different political parties for the remainder, Rep. Shows and Rep. Pickering"

Some say it would be an impossible district for Rep. Chip Pickering to campaign in.

"You're talking about a district that goes all the way from Tishomingo county to the west side of Rankin county, and there's no way to get from one end of that district to the other," Rep. John Moore said.

The senate stuck with Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck's plan. It too divides the universities but also the military bases. Tuck's plan would give Pickering a district with a high percentage of white voters, something Pickering says he needs to win.

"I think we passed a good compromise," Sen. Alan Nunnellee said. "There's no way that I can in good conscience vote for the plan that the house has passed. This tornado plan divides our state way too much."

"I think that one of the most important things we ought to do as a state is to try and create districts that represent all of the people," Sen. Robert Johnson said. "I don't think the Amy Tuck plan does that."

The two plans have now gone to conference, where six house and senate members will try and compromise.

By Iris Keogh

Online Producer Glenn Cummins