NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee lawmakers again took up controversial redistricting proposals. This time the Senate moved forward on two maps to redesign state Senate seats and redraw Congressional seats as required by law.
However, Republican lawmakers have made clear their intention to break up the county seat into three different districts. House Speaker Cameron Sexton is defending the proposed maps saying gerrymandering is not happening.
“It doesn’t do that,” Sexton said.
The Republican Speaker says accusations of gerrymandered maps are inaccurate. “Davidson will gain more representation, it never hurts to have more people in Washington fighting for you— it works in rural communities it’s worked in Shelby County,” he said.
The proposed congressional map targets Nashville and splits minority voters — and stretches into rural areas of the state. The Senate map which was unveiled Thursday does the same.
“The congressional map that’s been proposed is a joke, I mean it’s offensive to the degree in which it just aggressively gerrymanders the entire state,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) said.
Democrats also say, not only are minority voters going to be hurt, but they believe rural voters could also be faced with a lack of real representation. “People who represent Congress from West Tennessee are from Shelby County, and I think that we’re now on track for everybody that represents Middle Tennessee to be from Davidson, Williamson to be from the metropolitan area and I think that’s true in the eastern part of the state as well,” Yarbro said.
Republican leaders say the maps are lawful. “We worked in conjunction with the senate we think it satisfies and would prove to be upheld against the voting rights act,” Sexton said.
Lt. Governor Randy McNally is echoing the speaker’s claim releasing a statement in part saying:
“The recommended maps are fair and legal, disturb no currently serving legislator and preserve, as much as possible, current district composition.“
The Tennessee Democratic Party says they will sue if the current maps are signed into law.