Atlanta, Ga. – JULY 13, 2011 – The first reapportionment political tactics emerged this week as the Georgia GOP failed to serve adequate notice to Georgia Senate and House Democrats who responded sharply today.
Rep. Roger Lane, chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee, sent a notice calling for a meeting of his committee on Wed., July 20, 2011, at 2 p.m. In the notice he asked Georgia General Assembly members to submit comments to him by 2 p.m. on Friday. Lane is seeking comment on principles and guidelines that would direct the reapportionment process.
Lane’s memorandum, dated July 12, 2011, was sent electronically to members of the Senate; but on the House side, the meeting notice was laid on member’s desks in the House Chamber. The legislature is not in session.
“Under the best circumstances, Democratic members have only 48 hours to respond to the request. In reality, there is less time, if any, to respond to Lane’s request since the legislature is not in session. During the summer months, members aren’t regularly at the State Capitol building,” said Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta), chairperson of the Senate Democratic Reapportionment Committee.
Republicans have locked out Democrats from any meaningful discussions of reapportionment, the once-a-decade process that uses new census information to determine how elected officials are chosen.
“This most recent action further politicizes a process meant to be fair and transparent,” said Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus). Hugley chairs the House Democratic Reapportionment Committee.
Some Democrats have argued for an independent commission similar to the one recommended in 2006 by a Task Force assembled by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. The task force recommended that a seven-member commission conduct reapportionment because the process has become too politicized.
Perdue’s Floor Leader Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) introduced legislation in 2007, and a similar measure was introduced again this year by Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur). Neither measure passed.
“The best interest of the voting public should be the primary figure in determining how new legislative and congressional boundaries are drawn,” said Sen. Doug Stoner, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “There are enough politics in politics.”