Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and other members of the state’s general assembly on Wednesday published a draft map of new state house districts for state legislators.

Legislators will examine and consider the map during the 2021 Special Session.

Members of the public may see the draft map on the Georgia General Assembly’s website under the “Proposed Plans” section.

State legislators have scheduled the session to start Thursday.

Ralston, in an emailed press release, called the map fair and equitable and “representative of Georgia’s changing demographics and shifting population centers.”

“The draft map has a deviation of less than +/- 1.5 percent meaning that out of 180 districts representing 10.7 million Georgians, district sizes vary by less than 1,800 people ensuring equity among voters,” according to the press release.

“This map also reduces the number of counties split between districts from 73 to 68 preserving communities of interest around the state. It creates a number of new minority opportunity districts and complies with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.”

Public input into this process began in June and included 11 joint House-Senate committee hearings held online and in cities around the state with 22 hours of public testimony. The Georgia General Assembly also received more than 700 public comments from interested citizens through an online portal, the press release said.

Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee) will introduce the draft map as part of legislation in the near future. Ralston will assign the map to the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee to consider, according to the press release.

Georgia’s chamber of commerce interests have donated $4,250 to Rich since 2018, shortly before she took office.

Georgia State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) said in February that she suspected members of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber worked behind the scenes to kill Byrd’s Voter ID legislation. Byrd said she believed Georgia Chamber members disliked her Voter ID legislation because it would try to stop non-citizens from voting. She said at the time that Rich worked to block Byrd’s legislation in a Special Committee on Election Integrity subcommittee.

The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission’s website lists Rich’s donors.

The Georgia Chamber’s Political Affairs Council, for instance, donated $3,500 to Rich’s campaign efforts since 2018.

According to its website, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has a Governmental Affairs Council with 400 government affairs professionals representing various companies throughout the state. The Georgia Chamber’s Political Affairs Council, meanwhile, “provides an opportunity for Chamber investors and partners to play an active role in shaping the future of our state,” its website said.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.
Background Photo “Georgia Capital” by andre m. CC BY-SA 3.0.