Monday, January 17, 2022

Tennessee committee approves new state Senate map

The proposed Tennessee Senate redistricting map for 2022.

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Jan 13, 2022 - The recommended map for Tennessee’s state Senate districts was presented by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting on Thursday with far less objection than the maps for the Tennessee House and congressional districts.

The Senate map (Senate Bill 780/House Bill 1037) does not pair incumbent legislators and had nine counties that were split into two or more districts. The Senate map and congressional map (Senate Bill 781/House Bill 1034) were approved by the committee and the companion bills containing the same maps are scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee and House State Government Committee.

All three maps are expected to reach the full Senate by Jan. 20, Senate Democrat Caucus Press Secretary Brandon Puttbrese said.

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, presented the Senate map, and said Democratic leadership previously split Davidson County into two congressional districts in 1992 and 2002 during the redistricting process, which the state is required to go through every 10 years after the U.S. census.

Johnson said the population growth in the state was uneven and everything compressed toward middle Tennessee so those districts needed to become smaller geographically while rural districts grew geographically because of population shifts.

“Despite a compressed timeframe due to the late release of census data, the committee conducted an open and transparent process that solicited and considered input from all Senators and the general public,” Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said in a statement. “The recommended maps are fair and legal, disturb no currently serving legislator and preserve, as much as possible, current district composition. Despite challenging and contradictory state and federal mandates, this committee managed to keep both population deviation and county splits to historic lows. An excellent work product to hand off to the Senate Judiciary Committee as this process continues."

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, was the lone dissenting vote on the Senate map approval and the only Democrat present at the meeting. Committee member Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, was not present.

Yarbro said the Senate map was a “great starting point” and “it doesn’t seem to be motivated by any pettiness” such as the other maps presented, but he still believed the committee should have more time discussing the new maps and getting feedback.

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