Since the historic Senate vote last week sending JR 201 (the Redistricting Bill) to conference committee, there have been some new signals sent from both sides about what it will take to find a compromise to get Mississippi’s redistricting out of the courts and back in the legislature where it belongs. This seems largely driven by Democrats as they likely have the most to lose in a judge drawn redistricting effort.

Yesterday, Bobby Harrison wrote on his blog

The fact that House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, has said he will not appoint conferees to try to negotiate a legislative redistricting compromise with the Senate is important, but in reality only symbolic.
McCoy’s actions will not prevent a compromise if the various parties involved in the conflict want to achieve one.

Last Friday, George Flaggs was quoted as saying nearly the same thing.

“There’s a lot of time on the clock,” Flaggs said. “It’s time for cool heads to prevail.”

YP has confirmed that Flaggs is working hard behind the scenes to navigate egos and politics (in an election year) to try and find a workable solution to get redistricting out of the courts and get both sides happy. According to sources, Flaggs believes that it will likely involve a new joint resolution that has buy in from both sides before votes on either side are ever taken.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Lt. Governor are saying that finding a middle ground can only come in one of two ways.

1. Have House conferees show up to bang out a compromise on JR 201 or
2. Go build a new House redistricting plan that has real buy-in from Philip Gunn and Mark Baker. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be better. Pass that plan in the House (with a true bi-partisan vote) and have the Senate attach their plan and pass both in the Senate and have the House concur.

If this thing stays in a court, I still believe that Democrats lose in two ways. First, they’ll have to run twice, which will be a killer in 2012 with Obama at the top of the ticket. Second, a 3 judge panel will do the minimum amount of tinkering to make the necessary changes to protect minority voters and enforce “1 man 1 vote”.

Both sides still agree that the Senate plan is a done deal. We are now just down to figuring out how the House plan will work. Regardless of the logistical realities of how a legislative deal gets done, it will absolutely involve Democrats bending substantially off of the “my way or the highway” on House redistricting plan. Having 9 Democrats and 1 unknown Republican on that committee functionally doomed the House plan from the start. The Senate has 29 strong votes to hold the line and not leave conservatives in the House hung out to dry. They’ve signaled unconditionally that, while court isn’t the best option, it’s better than what the House offered. At the end of the day, McCoy and Tommy Reynolds will have to deal in good faith and makes some compromises with the leadership of House Republicans to end this outside a courtroom before sine die.