Before the end-of-session conflict with the governor, Senator Glenn McConnell warned Senators of “the storm that’s coming.” He was talking about redistricting, especially the creation of a 7th congressional district.
Before that storm, the Senate will review its own district maps next week– after holding a hearing and meetings all this week. They are working from a baseline of 100,551 people per 46 districts, with each allowed a slight deviation up or down from that number. The staff has submitted its ideas of how those should be divided and populated.
Last night, a public hearing at the Statehouse invited input on the plan compiled by Senate staff. Today, a special Senate panel considers the public input. The Judiciary meets Thursday morning. With a Republican and Democrat split, this group must agree on the map to present to the Senate.
An array of caucuses and committees can offer their opinions on will become the new political boundaries in the state. See other plans submitted, criteria, guidelines on special Senate website.
Speaking for the Senate Republican Caucus, Wesley Donehue is enjoying the possibilities that come with population shifts.
Phil Bailey of the Senate Democrats agrees that these areas will see major shifts from rural to urban areas, but that can be construed for either party, he says. “We need to see all the cards on the table first,” says Bailey, referring to the plan preferred by the GOP majority.
Democratic Senators are studying the staff draft this week. Bailey says, party politics aside, the maps submitted and debated in the weeks to come are being created and reviews in a much different way.
However, redistricting is all about politics, say Bailey and Donehue:
Then, because of the state’s racist history, the plan has to meet federal guidelines under the Voting Rights Act.
Ironically, Democrat and Republican leaders say their parties would come out well if a computer devised a non-biased map. The real outcome is up to the South Carolina Legislature– and possibly, the courts.