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The Daily Tar Heel

House to Debate Redistricting Plans

"Right now we are only considering the Democrat's paper. We are pushed to the corner.Rep. Larry JustusR-Henderson

The N.C. Legislative Redistricting Committee voted Tuesday to support the Sutton II plan, which is favored mainly by Democrats, over the Justus plan, which primarily has Republican backing.

The plans are named for the legislators who drew the districts.

The committee, which is almost equally split between Democrats and Republicans, approved the Sutton II plan in a 22-20 vote.

But some Republican legislators said they are angry at how the Sutton II plan distributes seats, claiming that it favors Democrats.

Every state has to redraw its legislative districts every 10 years to reflect changes in population.

Parties often tweak the lines for their own benefit, trying to gain the upper hand in future elections.

But Rep. Ronnie Sutton, D-Hoke, said the Democrats had tried to reach a compromise with the Republicans over the redistricting issue, altering an earlier proposal called Sutton I.

"Several major changes were made with the redistricting plan one, primarily as it effects the Mecklenburg area," he said. "I think the Sutton plan is a reasonable plan. It is not perfect but reasonable."

But Rep. Larry Justus, R-Henderson, said he was displeased with the failure of his plan and efforts by the Democrats to push the Sutton plan II through the House.

"I think the process is sorry," Justus said. "Right now we are only considering the Democrats' paper. We are pushed to the corner."

Justus said he would propose his plan again on the House floor today, trying to drum up enough support to get it passed.

"The two maps should represent the merger of the House," Justus said.

"I drew a map that represents that pretty closely."

The House is almost equally divided by party lines, with 62 Democrats and 58 Republicans.

The Democrats' thin majority makes it difficult to pass more contentious bills. One such example was the state budget, which was approved three months after this fiscal year started.

Justus said the Republicans and Democrats were cooperating until recently, when the Democrats began pushing their own plan.

"`I Did it My Way' is the Democratic theme song," Justus said. "There might be some Democrats who might be unhappy about (the Sutton plan II) and might move to (another) plan."

Some Republicans have accused the Democrats of restricting debate on the plan and not allowing enough time for the Republicans to propose amendments.

But Danny Lineberry, House Speaker Jim Black's spokesman, said the legislative process is proceeding normally.

"(The plans) have been out in the public view now for two weeks."

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