The Senate will come to order this morning, and one of the first items of business will be a "concurrence" vote on JR 201, the House and Senate redistricting plan. In a concurrence vote, the options are either "concur" or "invite conference". A majority of members have to vote to concur in order for a motion to concur to pass.
All indications are that this vote will be close. Bryant's supporters in the Senate are desperately trying to prevent concurrence, as they wish to redraw the House's map. This is despite the fact that the House passed its own plan by a 57% majority, and by the same margin, refused to tinker with the Senate's plan.
Lost in the rah-rah partisanship on the Republican side of this issue is the fact that Mississippi is dangerously close to having two legislative elections in the next two years. If new districts are not cleared by the Justice Department by June 1, 2011, we'll be over the cliff. And these are elections that will be paid for by the counties. This apparently isn't a concern to Republicans, however. Recent GOP spin has been of the "Who cares?" variety when it comes to wasting the counties' money on two elections.
That's rather shocking, as the GOP likes to tout itself as the party of fiscal responsibility. (The Tea Party is even planning a rally at the Capitol this morning to encourage this wasteful spending.)
Enter Speaker Billy McCoy (D-Rienzi). Yesterday afternoon, Speaker McCoy issued a statement saying that he would not appoint conferees if the Senate invited conference, and would instead give the plans over to the Justice Department immediately. It's an unprecedented move, but one that was made in an effort to spare the counties the cost of an extra election. After all, if the courts are going to draw the lines, it's time to get on with it. The clock's a-ticking.