MONTGOMERY — Members of Alabama’s Constitutional Revision Commission today heard from representatives from counties concerned about a proposed change regarding county boundaries in redistricting processes.
The commission at an earlier meeting suggested changes to the Constitution that would lessen the consideration given to county borders when creating districts like state House and Senate districts.
Perry County Commissioner Albert Turner Jr. said Friday his small county already has four state representatives.
“We have no legislative authority,” Turner said. “I would hate to see this provision taken out because then you could start from the premise of not recognizing the county boundaries.”
The county boundary issue came up earlier this year as the Republican controlled Legislature redrew districts based on 2010 Census population numbers. Democrats in Northwest Alabama cried foul because of the proposed changes. State Sen. Tammy Irons’ district was changed from containing all of Lauderdale County and a portion of Colbert County to containing portions of Lauderdale, Limestone and Madison counties.
The Legislative Black Caucus and other officials, including Turner, filed a lawsuit in federal court last summer to try to block the redistricting plans.
Attorney Jim Blacksher represented the lawmakers in the suit and spoke Friday at the constitutional revision meeting.
“Every (state) constitution has used counties for the building blocks for house and senate districts,” Blacksher said. “It is difficult to understand why this committee would recommend (changing that).”
Commission member Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, agreed that counties should be kept whole in their House and Senate districts, but aren’t always now.
The Constitutional Revision Commission was created last year to suggest revisions to the state’s 111-year-old Constitution. It will present its latest recommendations to lawmakers early next year. Changes won’t take effect unless approved by the Legislature and by voters in statewide referendums.