Redistricting hearing is today

Published 8:01 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

State Sen. Bryan Taylor will attend the congressional redistricting hearing which begins at 7 p.m. today at Troy University.

State Sen. Bryan Taylor will attend today’s public hearing on congressional redistricting in Troy, and he is looking forward to hearing the concerns his constituents may have.

The Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment is conducting public hearings throughout the state in an effort to receive input from interested citizens on issues related to the redrawing of congressional lines.

The hearing in Troy begins at 7 p.m. today at Troy University, Trojan Center Ballroom A.

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“This public hearing is strictly limited to the drawing of congressional District 2,” Taylor said. “The Alabama Legislature has been required to reapportion and redraw the seven congressional districts for the state of Alabama, affecting our congressmen in Washington.”

Taylor said the reason the districts are being redrawn is because populations have changed and each district has to have roughly the same number of citizens living in the district. “Since population shifts over a 10-year period, the districts have to be redrawn to make sure they continue to represent the same number of people,” Taylor said.

According to Taylor, the sole purpose of the public hearing is to seek input from any citizens who may want the Legislature to consider certain things before lanes are redrawn.

“Our goal is to draw fair and reasonable districts,” Taylor said. “People usually like to have a ‘say so’ and we want them to have that. Not only do we want them to have that, but it’s required by law, so we’re going to come down and give people a chance to come to the mic and speak their mind.”

Taylor, who was one of four “at-large” members appointed to the Reapportionment Committee by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, said that the U.S. Constitution requires redistricting every 10 years.

“The debate has always been, ‘how do you fairly draw the lines so that the lines are legal,’” Taylor said. “There are certain considerations that are illegal when drawing lines. For example, regarding race, you can not draw lines based solely on the racial demographics of an area.”

Taylor said the challenge and difficulty of redistricting is that Alabama is still subject to Voting Rights Act.

“That means that the federal government, if they can find any reason why they think our lines have been drawn based on improper purposes, then they can challenge it in federal court,” Taylor said.

“What ends up happening then is a judge draws the line, and we don’t want a federal judge telling us how to draw our federal districts.”

According to a press release regarding reapportionment, the committee encourages the submission of written statements and a brief oral summary of these statements at the hearings.

Any interested party unable to attend a hearing may submit written statements directly to the Committee at: Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment, Alabama State House, 11 South Union Street, Room 811, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-4600.

For more information regarding the congressional redistricting, call (334) 242-7941.