The circus of anti-vaccination legislation has diverted attention from what was supposed to be the primary reason for the reconvened special session: Drawing new congressional district lines.
Development today: Rep. Nelda Speaks introduced an amended version of her proposal that was a pronounced the favorite among House members yesterday, with some changes that would bring it more in line with Senate legislation by Sen. Breanne Davis that seemed to be the favorite in the Senate committee.
Key change: Speaks’s HB 1976 would add Pope County to the 2nd Congressional District, as Davis wants. To accommodate this added population, Speaks expanded significantly the part of Pulaski County that would be moved into the 4th District. It would move a portion of the county north of the Arkansas River to the 4th District. The precincts listed in her bill cover parts of Sylvan Hills, Sherwood, Jacksonville, North Little Rock and precincts near Wrightsville in far southeast Pulaski County.
Her Third District, another bone of contention with some legislators, would include Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison, Sebastian and Washington counties. The inclusion of both Sebastian and Madison would satisfy some senators who’ve been most outspoken in the debate so far.
A House committee will hear Speaks’ bill Thursday afternoon.
UPDATE: Forget HB 1976. Speaks went back to the drawing board on her HB 1971. With amendments,iIt will keep Madison in the Third, but omit the Pope County switch to the 2nd. It will continue a division of Pulaski County and move a larger portion of the southeastern part of the county to the 4th District. The House State Agencies Committee added the amendment today and the bill will be back up for consideration Friday. Speaks said the change in Pulaski would leave Little Rock and North Little Rock together in the 2nd District. This was the map displayed at the meeting.
So far, Senator Davis hasn’t seemed amenable to a plan that leaves her home of Pope County in the 4th District.