The Alabama Legislative Committee on Reapportionment is expected to hold a series of public hearings all over the state as its members begin to redraw the congressional, state school board and state legislative districts based on the 2020 census.
According to Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville), who co-chairs the committee with Rep. Chris Pringle, the first such hearing was held Wednesday.
A hearing will be held in Anniston on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Gadsden State Community College Ayers Campus, 1801 Coleman Road.
All of the hearings will be open to the public or can be viewed via Microsoft Teams.
“We’re actually working on it right now,” McClendon said Tuesday. “We’ve roughed in the congressional districts and the state Board of Education Districts, and we’re working on the state Senate Districts now.” The drawing of state Senate districts begins in south Alabama and then works its way north, he explained.
Thus, he said it was still too early to comment on whether Talladega County might be able to elect a state senator who actually lives in the county. After the 2020 census, Talladega County was divided among four neighboring districts. “We haven’t gotten that far north yet.”
Work on redrawing state House lines has not started yet, he added.
As for the Third Congressional District, which includes Talladega, St. Clair and Calhoun counties, McClendon said “Anyone should be able to recognize the district if they’re familiar with what was drawn 10 years ago. There might be some change around the edges, but it will be pretty much the same as in the past. It speaks to the stability of our population, and to the steady, continued growth.”
The community meetings, he added, “will all start the same. In the end, we just need to know what the public wants. Our job is to listen. We want everyone to be heard and we want everyone to have the opportunity to make comments. We’ll have a court reporter there taking everything down, and all the comments and suggestions will be submitted to the committee while they’re working.”
District 32 Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston), who is also on the committee, said, “I hope my constituents will attend this meeting, and will be aware of the guidelines we will be using. I’ve sent out notices across District 32, hopefully in time for everyone to prepare. People just need to be mindful of the guideline for redistricting, and as a committee, we will be taking input from everyone. And hopefully we can get it all right the first time, without a court intervention.”
Those guidelines can be found at http://www.legislature.state.al.us/aliswww/reapportionment/Reapportionment%20Guidelines%20for%20Redistricting.pdf.
Following the 2010 reapportionment, 12 state legislative districts were struck down by a federal court based on excessive racial gerrymandering. The current lines have been in effect since 2017.
Rep. Randy Wood (R-Saks), who is also on the committee, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Editor's note: This article corrects the date of the planned Anniston hearing as it appeared in print Wednesday.