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Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 8:10pm

Lawmakers Tackle Congressional Maps

Updated: 3 years ago.
House Speaker David Ralston (right) says legislators are still trying to come to agreement over where to put Georgia's new 14th congressional district. Experts believe the district will have as its center Hall County, which is home to Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (in photo, on left).

With the state house and senate legislative district maps approved, lawmakers turn their attention to congressional district maps Monday.Their main task will be deciding where to put a new congressional district.

Lawmakers will have to adjust the boundaries of the 13 existing congressional districts in order to make room for a 14th.

Georgia will gain a new seat in Washington because it added 1.5 million residents last decade.

Experts point to North Georgia as the new district’s likely home. The area’s Hall, Forsyth and Cherokee Counties each grew more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2010.

House Speaker David Ralston concedes that’s where the growth has been, but he says lawmakers are still haggling over the exact boundaries.

“I think there are a lot of clear ideas about where that district ought to go," he said last week following the House vote. "I think the real issue is not that no one has thought through that. It’s just that we are now trying to reach an agreement on where it ought to be.”

While Republican leaders are mum about the district’s location, experts say the seat could be a state legislator’s ticket to a congressional career in Washington.

Charles Bullock of the University of Georgia is one such expert.

“There may be something of a tug of war among various legislators, each of whom would love to center the district right on their home so they could have a chance to go to Congress -- that could be real interesting," he said. "You know, if, for example, the Senate comes up with one place where they put the 14th District and the House puts it somewhere else.”

Hall County has an edge because it's home to Governor Nathan Deal and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. And Cherokee County is home to Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers.

A 14th Congressional representative will bolster the state’s voice in Washington, D.C. In presidential elections, the state will gain an elector in the Electoral College. And with a larger population, Bullock says Georgia as a whole will get a bigger slice of federal funding allocations.

Lawmakers also plan to take up a bill for a transportation tax vote before wrapping up the special session by Labor Day.

Click here to see the new state House and Senate maps.

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