TN House GOP plan would create 6 new districts - WSMV Channel 4

TN House GOP plan would create 6 new districts

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House Districts 2011 House Districts 2011
Proposed House Districts 2012 Proposed House Districts 2012

A panel of Tennessee lawmakers unveiled maps of its redistricting proposal in a packed legislative hearing room Wednesday.

The once-a-decade redistricting plan follows the 2010 Census and reflects shifting population and political trends. Republicans hold wide majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

The counties around Middle Tennessee saw huge growth in the last decade, so that means they would be getting extra representation in the House.

Rutherford County picks up a seat that encompasses La Vergne, East Smyrna and part of Murfreesboro, including downtown.

Williamson County will have a new seat encompassing Fairview, Thompson's Station and parts of Franklin.

And there's a new seat in Nashville, one with a majority of black and Hispanic residents, possibly paving the way for a Latino lawmaker in the House.

"When you look at the demographics of Davidson County, downtown population has shrunk and the growth is in the south, and we have to do this. In addition, we've created a minority opportunity there," said House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.

But by doing that, they have lumped two outspoken Democratic representatives, Mike Stewart and Sherrie Jones, into one district.

That means one would have to retire or the two would face off in a primary.

"I think that was wrong and I think it was not necessary," said Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville.

Jones says it was definitely politically-motivated, and she, Stewart and Rep. Janis Sontany are looking at the options.

"The three of us will be talking about it and see what we can do and come up with what's best for the area," said Rep. Sherrie Jones, D-Nashville.

Meanwhile, the state senate maps also reflect the growth in Middle Tennessee. Each of the large suburban counties now anchors its own district, meaning it won't have to share representation with another highly-populated county.

State lawmakers have yet to release the maps for the congressional districts.

They say they are still working on them and will have them done this week.

Meanwhile, none of these plans are final until the full legislature approves them.

Republican leaders have said they want the redistricting measure to be among the first bills considered when the legislative session begins next week.

The filing deadline for candidates seeking state or federal office is April 5.

Copyright WSMV 2012. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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