COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lawmakers returned to the State House Wednesday to begin the redistricting process on the full House floor.
Representatives voted to move the redistricting bill to Special Order, giving it priority above everything else. They plan to have a long debate on Thursday, when lawmakers propose changes to the drafted map.
Many amendments are expected for districts across the state, but one area sure to cause a stir is Orangeburg County.
Several people, including lawmakers, are unhappy with how district lines are drawn in Orangeburg County.
The latest draft map, passed by the House Judiciary Committee, splits the county into four districts that stem from surrounding counties. Representative Jerry Govan claimed that the plan takes representation away from the people of Orangeburg.
“There's been a deliberate attempt to basically go into these areas and crack traditionally strong minority areas that tend to vote Democratic, and splinter them or fractionalize them in such a way so that you don't have the center of influence and that's what this is really about,” Govan said in a one-on-one interview.
Govan, one of two resident representatives of Orangeburg County, said the current proposal would leave most Orangeburg residents represented by someone outside their county.
“The end result is going to be less minorities in this body and less Democrats,” the Orangeburg native added.
He believes the current plan will impact the county’s funding too.
“By decreasing the political influence," Govan said, "basically you also impact those who can have some type of an impact on the dollars and cents that are coming into an area.”
Orangeburg City Council and the county’s Development Commission have written letters also opposing the plan.
However, Chair of the House Redistricting Committee, Representative Jay Jordan, disagrees with Govan's claims.
"The committee went to great lengths to follow the law and follow the population. And we drew lines that drew toward the population growth,” Jordan explained.
He added that he's happy with the work they've done and said it's a good starting point.
"Orangeburg is one place we’ve already amended once, I believe there's another amendment on the desk, so who knows how it’s going to end up. But we have a reasonable plan in place,” said Jordan.
Govan will present an amendment tomorrow to redraw the lines in Orangeburg in a way to keep the city and its suburban area together. He says It would divide Orangeburg into three districts instead of four.
The House will reconvene at 10am Thursday, December 2nd.