published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Tennessee State Senate to redo redistricting after omission

By Erik Schelzig, The Associated Press

NASHVILLE — Thought Tennessee's arduous redistricting process was over? Not so fast.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that Tipton County was omitted from the upper chamber's redistricting measure passed last week. The missing county is part of Norris' redrawn Senate district.

The Legislature will need to pass the measure again to correct the error, Norris said. The Collierville Republican said the mistake was caught before the measure was sent to the governor for his signature, meaning lawmakers can move to reconsider their previous action.

"If it had received his signature already, that would have been problematic," Norris said.

The language of the bill lists the areas of Shelby County that Norris would represent, but fails to mention Tipton County. Norris said it was a technical mistake akin to a typographical error but that he wanted to go through all the legislative motions again to ensure accuracy in the final product.

"Better safe than sorry," he said.

Democratic Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, who is from Covington in Tipton County, said the mistake could have been avoided if the redistricting process has been more deliberate.

"It's ironic that the sponsor of the bill is supposed to be representing Tipton County," Naifeh said. "And he and the speaker of the Senate were in such a hurry to get it passed, they left Tipton County out."

Democrats complained that the complete redistricting maps were not made publicly available until the week before the session began and that their requests to delay a vote fore more careful study of the proposals were rejected.

"This is what getting in such a big hurry for show does," Naifeh said. "And that's all that was for, no other reason."

The Senate redistricting plan passed on 21-12 vote in the upper chamber Friday. The House voted 60-29 to approve the measure.

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