Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, said the five senators who represent the Delta are lobbying the leadership to ensure the map does not lead to a loss of representation for that part of the state, even though the districts will have to grow to take in population centers.
The three counties he represents are among those with the greatest population losses. Bolivar, Humphreys and Sunflower counties lost a combined 13,238 residents in a decade, according to the 2010 Census.
“The more senators we have representing the Delta the better we are going to be at trying to influence and impact legislation and policies that impact the Delta,” Simmons said.
Residents fleeing northward after Hurricane Katrina also have caused growth in the regions around Pearl River and Lamar counties in southern Mississippi, Burton said.
“We have some challenges to make all the pieces fit together,” he said.
The Mississippi Republican Party and other advocacy groups have urged legislators to avoid unnecessarily splitting precincts, though in some cases split precincts are unavoidable because districts cannot be drawn in such a way that the African-American vote is diluted.
Rep. Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said from what he’s hearing, the proposed House map makes “vast improvement” in the splits over the current map, though he has not seen it in its entirety.