Georgia 2021 Legislative Update
Legislative Day 3
2020 Census Highlights
- GA Pop Growth +1 million
- White Pop Growth -1%
- Black Pop Growth 12.4%
- Hispanic Pop Growth 2%
- September +30.3%
Balance of Power
- 103 Republican
- 77 Democrat
- 34 Republican
- 22 Democrat
The Georgia General Assembly reconvened on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, for a special session to redraw Georgia's political maps. Your team at Joe Tanner & Associates will closely monitor all the action at the Capitol and report session developments back to you.
Background on Redistricting
The redistricting process will be based on the latest United States census figures, which are updated once every ten years. It might seem at first that redistricting, which is required in every state by the U.S. Constitution, would be a very mundane governmental exercise. But it is actually a hyper-political affair pitting political parties against each other and creating interparty battles as members of the same party fight for their political lives.
Federal law lays out the rules that the states must follow. However, the party in power in every state still has considerable influence on how the maps are drawn and will always redraw district maps to benefit themselves the most politically within the confines of the law.
Democrats in Georgia controlled both the House and Senate as well as the governor's office through the 2000 census. In the decades since Republicans have controlled both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office.
In Georgia, the process of redrawing every federal, state, and local political boundary is a function of the legislature as defined in Georgia law. Therefore, the process of redistricting can only begin once the U.S. Census Bureau releases the final numbers. The release of the 2020 numbers was delayed this year due to the pandemic. Now that the final numbers have been released, Governor Kemp has called for the special session to begin.
Now that the special session has begun, the state house and state senate will respectively draw their new districts. These maps then pass to the other chamber, usually as drawn. Congressional districts, however, are traditionally determined jointly, which takes more time and negotiation.
Newly redrawn political boundaries must reflect the latest census figures, and districts must have less than 1% deviation between districts. Congressional districts are even tighter where the deviation can be no more than two people between the largest and smallest districts. Redrawing the lines with such strict criteria is where things get interesting and creates the biggest challenge.
Metro areas around the state have had population growth, and therefore will gain new districts. However, rural areas have seen little change and even some population decline. That decline leads to districts being combined, putting incumbent legislators into districts with each other and forcing legislative colleagues to run against each other in the newly redrawn district.