Judiciary committees are focus of redistricting power
By Tiffany Melanis Edited by Doug Fisher
Though those people who will guide the redrawing of South Carolina's congressional and legislative districts next year have not been fully identified, the focus of power will be the Judiciary subcommittees in the House and Senate.
Driving the process will be Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and his Senate counterpart Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, who also is Senate president pro tem. One of the big issues will be where to locate a seventh congressional district that South Carolina is expected to get because of increases in its population.
Harrison and Katherine Wells, a Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer who returned calls seeking comment from McConnell, say the redistricting subcommittees should be selected by early January, though neither will discuss possible members.
"It's too early to be talking about where lines will be, who will be drawing them," Harrison said.
But both say that while Republicans control the General Assembly, the subcommittees will include Democrats, who also have an interest in protecting their politically safe districts.
The current budget has $1 million each for the House and Senate to redraw the maps, according to the comptroller general's office, and additional money could come from funds carried over from previous years or in the budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.
Once legislators have redrawn the maps, incoming Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will have to decide whether to accept them.
If they avoid her veto, they go to the U.S. Justice Department for clearance under the Voting Rights Act.