Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Congress Closer on Mapping Latest Idea Makes Macon an Anchor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Congress Closer on Mapping Latest Idea Makes Macon an Anchor

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Williams and Doug Gross, Times-Union staff writers

ATLANTA -- House and Senate conferees appeared to be moving toward an agreement on a new congressional map for Georgia late yesterday, more than a week after they started negotiating.

"This is a lot better map than you brought us [Wednesday],'' Rep. Tommy Smith, D-Nicholls, told his Senate colleagues yesterday afternoon after the senators unveiled a plan with the most significant concession since the two sides first sat down eight days ago.

The General Assembly redraws congressional district lines every 10 years to adjust for changes in population patterns that show up in the census. This year, lawmakers are forming two additional districts, the 12th and 13th, awarded to Georgia by the U.S. Census Bureau because of the state's rapid growth during the 1990s.

The latest map would give Middle Georgia its own congressional district anchored in Macon, the first time the Senate conferees have bent to one of House members' top priorities. The district now stretches from north of Macon all the way to the Florida line.

"Those of us in Middle Georgia have been in the biggest (congressional) district this side of the Mississippi (River),'' Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon, said yesterday on the House floor. "We want a more compact district.''

But the proposed 8th Congressional District has a different shape than that envisioned by the House conferees. It's cut nearly in two by the 1st Congressional District, a configuration that would put Robins Air Force Base, Moody Air Force Base, Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base and Fort Stewart inside the coastal district now represented by Republican Jack Kingston of Savannah.

The Middle Georgia district also would extend east as far as western Bulloch County and north through Greene County, allowing Senate conferees to elongate the proposed 12th District, based in Augusta, from Athens into parts of Savannah, a position they have pursued throughout the talks. …

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