ATLANTA – The Georgia House of Representatives Monday adopted a new map of state Senate districts drawn by majority Republicans over the objections of minority Democrats.
The 96-70 House vote nearly along party lines sent the bill to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk, ending once-a-decade legislative redistricting carried out by the General Assembly. The Georgia Senate approved a new House map last week.
As has been the case throughout the special redistricting session lawmakers began nearly two weeks ago, Democrats accused Republicans of drawing district boundaries to the GOP’s advantage while ignoring minority population growth during the last decade that favors Democrats.
“We are a 50-50 state. We are a battleground state,” Rep. Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta, told her House colleagues, referring to the close margins of recent statewide elections. “This map creates a 60-40 split with the advantage to the Republican Party.”
Nguyen, who is running for secretary of state, and other Democrats singled out several Senate districts as examples of what they called Republican gerrymandering. She said the Senate map changes Senate District 48 now served by Sen. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, the Senate’s only Asian woman, from a minority voting-age population (VAP) of 60% to a district with a slight white majority VAP.
Rep. Debra Bazemore, D-South Fulton, the House’s chief deputy whip, pointed to major partisan changes in the 6th Senate District in Fulton and Cobb counties as well as a dilution of Black voting strength in two Senate districts taking in portions of Henry County.
But Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, chairman of the House Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee, said the Senate map complies with the federal Voting Rights Act and splits fewer counties than the Senate map that has been in place since the last redistricting in 2011.
In other business Monday, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution ratifying an executive order Kemp issued last May temporarily suspending the collection of the state gasoline tax after the Colonial Pipeline was hit by a ransomware attack and forced to shut down. The suspension lasted from May 10 until June 2.
Next up for the special session is consideration of a proposed map for Georgia’s 14 congressional districts.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.