Montgomery lawmakers hope county won’t lose seats in redistribution

Montgomery County could emerge from the next round of redistribution with its state legislative delegation unchanged. But borders can change.

Alabama Legislature to Meet Thursday consider new district maps for seats in Congress, Parliament and state school boards. The measures will need to reflect population changes, but are also likely to strengthen Republicans’ wide margins in all three bodies.

“I have two responsibilities that stand out above anything else,” said State Senator Jim McClendon, R-Springville, one of two Republican leaders to draw the lines. “I have to get the votes to pass the bills. I must stay in compliance with court rulings and our guidelines. “

Cartographers are expected to unveil the proposed maps at the state redistribution committee meeting on Tuesday. Gov. Kay Ivey told lawmakers earlier this month that she intends to call them to a special session on October 28. The governor had not launched a formal appeal Friday afternoon.

The process is already facing a legal challenge from Legislative Democrats, who want a court to shoot two of Alabama’s seven congressional districts to include a significant number of black residents. The plaintiffs argue that having two black representatives in Congress, who are more likely to be Democrats, would better reflect the state’s 26% of the black population. The lawsuit is lengthy but could be the first of several card lawsuits.

“I think what we get at the end of the day will end up in court,” said Senator Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery. “And we will govern accordingly. “

Population growth, political factor in decisions

There are pressure points for cartographers. Suburban counties like Baldwin in southern Alabama and Limestone in northern Alabama have experienced rapid growth, and new dividing lines will reflect that growth. Politics will also come into play. Madison County, which has a majority Republican delegation in the House, has grown and turned Democrat-oriented in statewide races in recent years and is neighbor to Limestone County , who grew faster and remained predominantly Republican.

Rural counties have shrunk over the past decade, and districts in these regions may go elsewhere or encompass more geography. Lowndes County, neighboring Montgomery, lost 8.7% of its population between 2010 and 2020. This could affect House District 69, represented by Representative Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville, which includes part of Montgomery. A message requesting comment was left for Lawrence on Friday.

“They are losing population in western Alabama,” Hatcher said. “I don’t know what that will mean for District 69 and whether it will need to take more of the Montgomery community, in terms of areas like the Southlawn community. I think these things are probably on the table.

The loss of population will also affect the boundaries of Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville. Sells said he expects to retain part of Montgomery.

“My district is going to have to grow it because everyone in rural Alabama has to pick up people,” he said.

Other boundaries may change in Montgomery County. Republican Representative Reed Ingram’s district includes Pike Road, Ingram’s House, and parts of Elmore County. The population of Pike Road has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, and the population of Elmore County has grown by 11%.

Could Montgomery lose another seat?

Montgomery lost a State House seat to Shelby County after the 2010 census. But neither Hatcher nor Ingram expected that to lead to change. Ingram said he wanted to protect the remaining GOP seats in Montgomery.

“I don’t think we’re going to lose any quarters of the House,” he said. “We only have two more in Montgomery who are Republicans, and we need to represent all the people of Montgomery.

The state’s 105 House districts are each an ideal size of about 48,000 people; the 35 seats in the state Senate have an ideal population of about 143,000 each. McClendon said the redistribution committee plans to allow deviations of about 5% from that number.

This is a looser standard than that used after the 2010 census, which led to accusations from black lawmakers that the Republicans who drew the cards were “wrapping and stacking” black voters in the districts, limiting their political power. Republicans said at the time they were trying to maintain majority minority districts, many of which had lost population before the census.

Contact reporter Brian Lyman of Montgomery Advertiser at 334-240-0185 or [email protected].

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