Thanks to political consultant Clint Reed for alerting me to the filing of the first legislative proposal for redrawing Arkansas’s congressional districts. Sponsor: Rep. Nelda Speaks of Mountain Home.
I have no idea if this is representative of a broader consensus. The legislature is supposed to come back into session Sept. 29 for what leaders have predicted will be a short meeting to approve congressional districts and then adjourn for good. I suspect some mischief makers will be lurking on other topics. There’s also immense pressure to add another income tax at the top end of the income brackets to provide another multi-million-dollar windfall for the wealthiest Arkansans.
In any case, here is Speaks’ proposal and the key changes:
First District: Adds Boone, Marion and Searcy counties. Loses Lincoln and the territory it currently includes in Jefferson County.
Second District: Drops Van Buren County, but otherwise no changes.
Third District: With its big population growth in Washington and Benton Counties, it must lose territory. This proposal would drop Boone, Marion and Pope Counties and add portions it currently lacks in Crawford and Sebastian and keep Carroll. Makes sense — a relatively compact NWA district from Fort Smith to the Missouri border. The district currently includes some portions, but not all, of Crawford, Newton, Searcy and Sebastian counties. The Newton and Searcy portions would go elsewhere, while all of Crawford and Sebastian would be included.
Fourth District: It would now include all of Jefferson County as well as Lincoln, Newton, Pope and Van Buren, a big district running from the Delta to the Ozarks. At first glance, this one looks most likely to stir comment.
The bill doesn’t provide a breakdown on population based on the Census, so I’m unsure how close it comes to meeting the standards on variances.