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Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 11:38am

Lawmakers Drawing New District Maps

Now that Georgians have had their chance to weigh in on redistricting, state lawmakers are getting ready for the special legislative session in August. That means drawing preliminary legislative maps.

The point of the special session is to redraw 180 statehouse districts and 56 state Senate districts based on the newest census data.

But lawmakers aren’t waiting until August to get started. That’s because the redrawing would take too long during the session, says Rep. Roger Lane, who chairs the house redistricting committee.

“Our goal is to have a map available to the public the week before we go into session so that we’ll have one out there to work with once we get into session and we draw up the bill to redistrict," Lane said in a phone interview. "And it will still be a moving target. It’ll still be modified some during the committee process once we go into session.”

Lane, a Darien Republican, says drawing the maps early will also help the state comply with the Voting Rights Act. He says the committee is trying to keep minorities in the majority in 49 districts, as part of the law’s requirements. With those districts identified, Lane says the committee can fill in the rest of the map around them.

Lawmakers will also be adding a 14th congressional district. That reflects the state's additional 1.5 million residents, compared with the 2000 census.

The special session starts on Aug. 15, and will last several weeks. It's up to Governor Nathan Deal to officially call the session, and set the agenda. Deal has said he is considering adding some other topics to the agenda, but it's not clear yet what those topics will be.

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