LETTER: SC needs laws to guide redistribution

“South Carolina is the only lawless state guiding the redistribution process. Should this change? ”

This is the title of an article that appeared in The State newspaper on September 8.

The article says that each branch of the South Carolina legislature sets its own rules for the ten-year redistribution process.

There are no redistribution laws, so the process can be inconsistent every ten years. After each census, the South Carolina legislature changes what is meant by transparency and accountability.

The South Carolina House of Representatives passed its version of the 2021 guidelines and criteria for parliamentary and legislative redistribution on August 3.

Each state must ensure that its guidelines and criteria conform to the US Constitution and the opinions of the Supreme Court.

The ad hoc committee of the House Judiciary Committee is the legislative body that formally adopted the 2021 guidelines and criteria for parliamentary and legislative redistribution.

The committee’s 2021 guidelines and criteria plan are just that, guidelines, not actual redistribution plans.

Basically it is the plan to come up with a plan. The ad hoc committee is responsible for developing the actual plan which it presents to the House Judiciary Committee.

The House Judiciary Committee reviews the plan, modifies it as it sees fit and votes for or against.

Finally, the plan is presented to the Plenary Assembly for approval.

In my opinion, the process could start by looking like “A” and looking like “Z”. In between, there are 24 other letters in English.

As with the English alphabet, the English language can produce many similar legal statements, all written differently and mean something totally different. I think it’s called legal jargon.

Article X (Public Contribution) of the 2021 Guidelines and Criteria requires the Ad Hoc Committee to make reasonable efforts to be transparent and allow public input into the redistribution process. Like the South Carolina Senate did, the House scheduled a series of public hearings to gather information from South Carolina residents to use in formulating South Carolina redistribution plans.

Thus, ten two-hour public hearings would be conducted in the state, from September 8 to October 4, 2021.

I attended the September 9 hearing in Florence. President Jay Jordan opened the hearing, read the instructions and introduced the other seven members of the committee.

I also attended the August 3 public hearing on the Senate redistribution.

There were several differences between the Senate hearing and the House hearing.

The House meeting had significantly fewer attendees, no zoom or other virtual presence, had only a handful of speakers, and was adjourned after 45 minutes.

Many issues were presented including plight of farmers, housing, unemployment, homelessness, broadband and the fact that large numbers of Chesterfield County residents did not participate in the 2021 census. .

This may help explain the fact that the population of Chesterfield County has declined by 7 percent overall. Wow!

During the Chamber hearing on September 9, I spoke about the article,

“South Carolina is the only lawless state guiding the redistribution process. Should this change? ”

My points included codifying the process, encouraging competitive elections, not creating “safe” seats, fair and equal voting rights, and creating an independent redistribution commission to draw legislative maps.

There was no comment from the ad hoc committee.

I see lawyers make up a significant number of our representatives, so a lot of our codes contain legal jargon.

Paul Brewer is a resident of Pageland.

Editor’s Note; After The Progressive Journal went to press on Monday, the House Redistricting Committee announced that there would be a live broadcast of its September 28 hearing.

The committee is not broadcasting a live October 4th meeting.

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