redistricting

Dems submit congressional redistricting plan

Legislative Democrats are submitting a congressional redistricting plan that would avoid breaking up Nashville. The proposal would also reimagine the 4th District as being comprised of fast-growing suburban Williamson, Rutherford, and Wilson counties, while ceding most of its current rural population to the 6th and 3rd districts.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE — Middle Tennessee’s fast-growing suburban communities would elect their own member of the U.S. House of Representatives under a congressional map proposed by state Democrats on Monday.

While most of the map will look familiar, Democrats say their nine-seat congressional plan improves representation by keeping almost every city and county whole while also better connecting communities that have shared socio-economic interests — like Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains, rural West Tennessee and booming suburban Middle Tennessee communities along I-840.

“People all over the state shared the same message: please keep our community together,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari, the Democratic caucus chairwoman. “People want their elected officials to be responsive to the needs of their community. So, in addition to drawing districts that are near identical by population, we are proposing districts with deep community connections and shared needs—like housing, healthcare, education, transportation and job creation.”

The biggest change recommended by Democrats is a new configuration for the 4th Congressional District that combines three Middle Tennessee counties, Williamson, Wilson, and most of Rutherford, along with the cities of Hendersonville and Spring Hill. The current district lines sprawl across southern Tennessee from Nashville’s southeastern border nearly to North Carolina.

“The 840 corridor encompassing Williamson, Rutherford & Wilson are facing the shared challenges of explosive growth, infrastructure and services spread thin, alongside effective regional coordination and collaboration. The future of these communities is inherently linked together regardless of county lines or city lines,” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the minority leader in the Senate. “The congressional lines is one way we can recognize and respond to that reality. It’s not only good for these communities experiencing rapid growth to have common leadership, but also more advantageous for other regions to address the different but equally complicated economic, education and health decisions they face.”

Democrats in the legislature held five meetings across the state and participated in dozens more meetings to gather public input from communities across the state. This proposed congressional map incorporates feedback from people who spoke at those hearings and submitted public comment in other ways.

“This map proposal is a reflection of real people and the concerns that are shared by underserved communities across the state,” said Rep. Karen Camper, the minority leader in the House. “We look forward to presenting their ideas and policy priorities to the General Assembly.”

Before the 2022 election cycle, the Tennessee General Assembly, by law, must draw political boundaries so that every congressional district in the state has an equal number of people.

The community districting process — also called redistricting or reapportionment — happens every 10 years after federal census officials release data showing the population of every city, town and county in the nation.

A good district map reflects a whole community or a community of shared interests, such as a city, neighborhood or group of people who have common policy concerns that would benefit from being drawn into a single district.

While Republicans who control legislature have so far kept their proposed congressional maps a secret, Democrats are making their draft congressional proposal available for public comment ahead of the next legislative session.

“We know Republicans are cutting deals on district lines behind closed doors and playing partisan politics with their maps, but that’s not going to stop us from engaging Tennesseans in a good faith process,” said Rep. Vincent Dixie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “We welcome input from the community because we want fair maps and a healthy democracy.”

To offer feedback on the congressional maps proposed by state Democrats, email maps@tndemocrats.org..

1st Congressional District

The 1st Congressional District proposal includes 11 counties from the current map: Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, Washington.

Additions: Claiborne, Grainger, Union and a portion of Campbell County just west of the city of LaFollette.

Other changes: Sevier County shifts to the 2nd Congressional District.

2nd Congressional District

The 2nd Congressional District proposal includes Knox, Anderson and Sevier counties as well as the city of Maryville in Blount County.

Knox County residents offered public comment making the case for including both Anderson and Sevier counties in a district with Knoxville due to the shared interests in those communities.

For example, the Great Smoky Mountains and Knoxville are tied together through tourism, and Knoxville’s innovation sector is intrinsically linked to the science being performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

3rd Congressional District

This map would move the 3rd Congressional District into Tennessee’s southeast corner—rather than its current configuration which extends from downtown Chattanooga to the Kentucky border.

What’s in: Bradley, Hamilton, Loudon, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, Roane counties, the city of Maryville and part of Blount County.

What’s out: Everything north of Knox County — Scott, Campbell, Union, Morgan and Anderson counties.

4th Congressional District

The plan’s reimagined 4th Congressional District undergoes the biggest change to create a district for Middle Tennessee’s fast-growing suburban counties along the I-840 bypass.

Their shared status as booming suburban communities and similar growth-related needs make a strong case for these areas to be included in a single district.

What’s in: Williamson and Wilson counties, most of Rutherford County, as well as the city of Hendersonville and the city of Spring Hill, which straddles the Williamson-Maury County line.

5th Congressional District

Nashville-Davidson County is about 50,000 people short of qualifying to be its own congressional district.

To complete a full district, this plan draws from public comments that asked mapmakers to link Nashville to neighboring cities that are confronting similar challenges.

What’s in: Davidson County, the city of La Vergne, the city of Goodlettsville, which straddles the Davidson-Sumner County line, and Millersville, which shares a long border with the city of Nashville along I-65.

What’s out: Dickson and Cheatham counties.

6th Congressional

This plan expands Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District to the south, putting the shared interests of rural communities at the forefront.

What’s in: Bledsoe, Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grundy, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Marion, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Scott, Sequatchie, Smith, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, White counties as well as portions of Sumner County and Campbell County.

What’s out: Wilson County.

7th Congressional District

This proposed map includes most areas of the current district, including Clarksville and Columbia, but it shifts away from counties in West Tennessee. Instead, the Tennessee River serves as a western boundary for most of district.

What’s in: Bedford, Cheatham, Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Perry, Robertson, Stewart, Wayne counties and most of Maury and Hardin counties.

What’s out: Benton, Chester, Decatur, Hardeman, Henderson and McNairy counties.

8th Congressional District

The 8th Congressional District would become the rural West Tennessee district. Bordered mostly by the Tennessee River on the east and the Mississippi River on the west.

What’s in: Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion and Tipton counties, as well as a portion of Hardin County and the Shelby County cities of Arlington, Collierville, Germanton Lakeland and Millington.

What’s out: Parts of East Memphis.

9th Congressional District

In this map, the entire city of Memphis is included within the boundary of the 9th Congressional District.

To complete the district, the whole city of Bartlett is also included as well as some unincorporated areas of Shelby County.

New TNJ edition alert: Casada’s fall, Bell bows out, Durham decision

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) checks his phone in the House chamber in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

In this week’s edition of the print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Casada won’t run again after fall from speaker to delivery driver. Could run for Williamson County clerk be next?

— Redistricting: Bell, Casada retirements grant breathing room to mapmakers.

— Lee favorite bows out, leaving wide-open competition for Supreme Court opening.

— We have a ruling over ousted Rep. Durham’s record penalty for campaign finance violations.

— A shakeup at the top in Gov. Bill Lee’s office.

Also: Hagerty hits fellow Republicans over infrastructure vote, the Barretts host a fundraiser for Ketron, Trump endorses Fleischmann, and mirrors on the ceiling at the governor’s mansion (shudder).

As always, access your copy of the TNJ here or subscribe here.

House redistricting panel to hold first meeting Wednesday

The House Select Committee on Redistricting holds its first meeting on Wednesday.

Anyone wishing to participate in the public comment section of the meeting must register by Tuesday afternoon.

Traditionally each chamber comes up with its own redistricting plan, while the House and Senate combine to draw new congressional maps.

Here’s the agenda:

Select Committee on Redistricting

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 – HHR I – 1:00 PM

Johnson C, Chair; Marsh, Vice-Chair; Camper, Crawford, Faison, Freeman, Hazlewood, Hicks G, Holsclaw, Lamberth, Parkinson, Russell, Vaughan, Whitson, Williams, Windle

I. Call to Order & Introductions

II. Presentation – Doug Himes, Counsel to the Select Committee on
Redistricting

III. House Redistricting Guidelines

IV. Submission of Redistricting Plans

V. Public Comments*

VI. Adjourn

Sexton names House redistricting committee

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) presides over a House floor session on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) has named the membership of the House Select Committee on Redistricting.

The panel will be led by Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville). Speaker Pro Tem Pat Marsh is the vice chair. Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) will serve as East Tennessee coordinator, while Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) and Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) will oversee the East and Middle grand divisions, respectively.

Four of the committee’s 16 members are Democrats.

Here’s the full release from Sexton’s office:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) today announced the first-ever bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting. The announcement comes after a prolonged delay by the U.S. Census Bureau in releasing state-level redistricting data.

The bipartisan committee consists of 16 House members, including four Democratic members. Deputy Speaker Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) will chair the committee, and Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) is the committee’s vice-chair.

Additional committee members include:

Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain)

Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville) 

Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)

Rep. Karen Camper (D- Memphis)

Rep. John Crawford (R-Bristol/Kingsport)

Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby)

Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville)

Rep. John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton)

Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland)

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis)

Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore)

Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin)

Rep. Ryan Williams (R- Cookeville)

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)

“As we continue reviewing the long-awaited statewide data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, I am excited to announce the first-ever bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting,” said Speaker Sexton. “The makeup of this panel is representative of the distinctive voices of Tennesseans from across all three grand divisions of our state. I appreciate both my Republican and Democratic colleagues for their work as part of this panel, which will play a critical role in a transparent, public process that will produce both fair and constitutional redistricting plans representative of all Tennesseans.”

House Ethics Counsel Doug Himes will serve as counsel for the committee. The date of the first meeting of the bipartisan House Select Committee on Redistricting has not yet been determined.

For additional information on the redistricting process in the Tennessee House of Representatives, please click here

Cameron Sexton is the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. A former Republican Caucus Chairman, Majority Whip, and House Health Committee Chairman, Sexton resides in Crossville. He is in his sixth term serving House District 25, including Cumberland, Putnam, and Van Buren Counties.

See by how much Tennessee districts miss their ideal populations following census count

Lawmakers await Gov. Bill Lee arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The U.S. Census Bureau late last week released population count data to be used for the once-a-decade redistricting process. The information arrived in a legacy format that requires some massaging to make usable for legislative consultants. But the City University of New York has already processed the numbers in the form of a national map.

We’ve teased out the Tennessee numbers to show how much variance current legislative districts have with the ideal population. State case law has established General Assembly seats can fall within plus or minus 5% of the average. The bigger the variance, the more districts will have to be shifted before next year’s election.

Here are the breakdowns for the Senate and House:

SENATE:

DistrictSenatorPartyCountiesover/under
29Akbari, RaumeshDShelby (part)-12%
15Bailey, PaulRBledsoe, Cumberland, Jackson, Overton, Putnam, White3.8%
9Bell, MikeRBradley (part), McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk-5.6%
16Bowling, JaniceRCoffee, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren-1.6%
7Briggs, RichardRKnox (part)-1.8%
20Campbell, HeidiDDavidson (part)6.7%
3Crowe, RustyRCarter (part), Washington, Unicoi-6.5%
10Gardenhire, ToddRBradley (part), Hamilton (part)-4.4%
19Gilmore, BrendaDDavidson (part)8.6%
18Haile, FerrellRDavidson (part), Sumner, Trousdale13.8%
28Hensley, JoeyRGiles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry, Wayne1.6%
27Jackson, EdRMadison, Crockett, Dyer, Lake, Lauderdale-13.2%
23Johnson, JackRWilliamson18.3%
31Kelsey, BrianRShelby (part)-0.1%
30Kyle, SaraDShelby (part)-10.3%
4Lundberg, JonRCarter (part), Johson, Sullivan-10.4%
6Massey, Becky DuncanRKnox (part)-3%
5McNally, Lt. Gov. RandyRAnderson, Knox (part), Loudon-3.5%
8Niceley, FrankRClaiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Union-7.6%
17Pody, MarkRCannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, Wilson12.2%
22Powers, BillRStewart, Houston, Montgomery15.6%
14Reeves, ShaneRBedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, Rutherford (part)4.2%
25Roberts, KerryRCheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, Robertson1.3%
33Robinson, KatrinaDShelby (part)-5.1%
32Rose, PaulRTipton, Shelby (part)0.6%
1Southerland, SteveRCocke, Greene, Hamblen, Sevier (part)-7%
24Stevens, JohnRBenton, Carroll, Gibson, Henry, Obion, and Weakle-9%
2Swann, ArtRBlount, Sevier (part)0%
26Walley, PageRChester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, McNairy-7.1%
11Watson, BoRHamilton (part)-1.4%
13White, DawnRRutherford (part)19.1%
12Yager, KenRCampbell, Fentress, Morgan, Rhea, Roane, Pickett, Scott Counties-8.4%
21Yarbro, JeffDDavidson (part)12%

HOUSE

DistrictIncumbentPartyCountiesover/under
7Alexander, RebeccaRWashington (part)-5.2%
37Baum, CharlieRRutherford (part)15.1%
51Beck, BillDDavidson (part)7.9%
46Boyd, ClarkRCannon, DeKalb (part), Wilson (part)14.7%
47Bricken, RushRCoffee, Warren (part)2.2%
71Byrd, DavidRHardin, Lawrence (part), Lewis, Wayne,-10.3%
32Calfee, KentRLoudon (part), Roane (part)-10.4%
3Campbell, ScottyRCarter (part), Johnson, Sullivan (part)-9.1%
87Camper, KarenDShelby (part)-2.5%
12Carr, DaleRSevier (part)-4.7%
16Carringer, MicheleRKnox (part)-4.9%
29Carter, JoanRHamiton (part)15.1%
63Casada, GlenRWilliamson (part)42.9%
64Cepicky, ScottRMaury (part)14.4%
85Chism, JesseDShelby (part)-3.3%
55Clemmons, John RayDDavidson (part)0.2%
23Cochran, MarkRMcMinn, Monroe (part)-2.1%
86Cooper, BarbaraDShelby (part)-8.8%
1Crawford, JohnRSullivan (part)-13.5%
69Curcio, MichaelRDickson (part), Hickman, Maury (part) 1.8%
76Darby, TandyRCarroll (part), Obion (part), Weakley-15.9%
54Dixie, VincentDDavidson (part)-5.1%
70Doggett, ClayRGiles, Lawrence (part)-3.2%
10Eldridge, RickRHamblen-7.6%
11Faison, JeremyRCocke, Greene (part), Jefferson (part) -10.6%
17Farmer, AndrewRJefferson (part), Sevier (part)-3.1%
56Freeman, BobDDavidson (part)1.5%
94Gant, RonRHardeman (part), Fayette, McNairy1%
45Garrett, JohnnyRSumner (part)10.4%
97Gillespie, JohnRShelby (part)0.5%
75Griffey, BruceRBenton, Henry, Stewart-11.6%
77Grills, RustyRDyer, Lake, Obion (part)-10.4%
28Hakeem, YusufDHamiton (part)-2.1%
79Halford, CurtisRCarroll (part), Gibson-6.8%
24Hall, MarkRBradley (part)0.4%
93Hardaway, G. A.DShelby (part)-8.8%
90Harris, Torrey C.DShelby (part)-15.3%
72Haston, KirkRChester, Decatur, Henderson, Perry-6.9%
5Hawk, DavidRGreene (part)-10.3%
27Hazlewood, PatsyRHamilton (part)1.6%
30Helton, EstherRHamilton (part)6.9%
9Hicks, GaryRWashington (part)-9.2%
6Hicks, TimRwashington-4.3%
67Hodges, JasonDMontgomery (part)15.2%
4Holsclaw, JohnRCarter (part), Unicoi-8.7%
22Howell, DanRBradley (part), Meigs, Polk-1.4%
2Hulsey, BudRSullivan (part)-10%
82Hurt, ChrisRCrockett, Haywood, Lauderdale-18.5%
60Jernigan, DarrenDDavidson (part)-0.5%
68Johnson, CurtisRMontgomery (part)30.5%
13Johnson, GloriaDKnox (part)-5.1%
38Keisling, KellyRClay, Fentress (part), Macon, Pickett, Scott-2.3%
66Kumar, SabiRRobertson4.3%
89Lafferty, JustinRKnox (part)8.1%
91Lamar, LondonDShelby (part)-16.7%
44Lamberth, WilliamRSumner (part)22.6%
99Leatherwood, TomRShelby (part)1.5%
78Littleton, MaryRCheatham, Dickson (part)0.8%
58Love, HaroldDDavidson (part)5.8%
57Lynn, SusanRWilson (part)27%
18Mannis, EddieRKnox (part)-2.5%
62Marsh, PatRBedford, Lincoln (part)-2.1%
15McKenzie, SamDKnox (part)-7.4%
88Miller, LarryDShelby (part)-9.2%
50Mitchell, BoDDavidson (part)0.7%
81Moody, DebraRTipton-12.7%
8Moon, JeromeRBlount (part)-5.4%
61Ogles, BrandonRWilliamson (part)2.6%
98Parkinson, AntonioDShelby (part)-8.6%
59Potts, JasonDDavidson (part)8%
53Powell, JasonDDavidson (part)5.9%
36Powers, DennisRAnderson (part), Campbell, Union (part)-11.8%
33Ragan, JohnRAnderson (part)-2.6%
20Ramsey, BobRBlount (part)-0.8%
74Reedy, JayRHouston, Humphreys, Montgomery (part)8.7%
34Rudd, TimRRutherford (part)42.8%
39Rudder, IrisRFranklin (part), Marion (part), Moore-9.4%
21Russell, LowellRLoudon (part), Monroe (part)1.6%
25Sexton, CameronRCumberland, Putnam (part), Van Buren 4.7%
35Sexton, JerryRClaiborne, Grainger, Union (part)-10.9%
80Shaw, JohnnyDHardeman (part), Madison (part)-18.6%
43Sherrell, PaulRGrundy, White, Warren (part)-2.1%
26Smith, RobinRHamilton (part)3.1%
49Sparks, MikeRRutherford (part)15.5%
52Stewart, MikeDDavidson (part)4.2%
48Terry, BryanRRutherford (part)15.8%
96Thompson, DwayneDShelby (part)3%
73Todd, ChrisRMadison (part)-7.2%
84Towns, JoeDShelby (part)-2.9%
31Travis, RonRBledsoe, Rhea, Roane (part), Sequatchie-0.2%
95Vaughan, KevinRShelby (part)4.2%
92Warner, ToddRFranklin (part), Lincoln (part), Marion (part), Marshall-5%
40Weaver, Terri LynnRDeKalb (part), Smith, Sumner (part), Trousdale12.8%
83White, MarkRShelby (part)-1.4%
65Whitson, SamRWilliamson (part)9.3%
42Williams, RyanRPutnam (part)6.1%
41Windle, John MarkDFentress (part), Jackson, Morgan, Overton-6.7%
19Wright, DaveRKnox (part)-4.6%
14Zachary, JasonRKnox (part)2.5%

New edition alert: Sexton brings pressure for special session. Now can he deliver?

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to the House Republican Caucus on July 24, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here’s what’s in it:

— Sexton pressures Lee to call session to halt COVID-19 mandates. But getting signatures for a letter is one thing, finding consensus is another.

— Lee already ranks third for special sessions and new one would make him No. 2 among all Tennessee governors.

— Opt-out provision to mask mandates posited as a way to take down the temperature.

— Census numbers start trickling in as lawmakers nervously ponder the future shape of their districts.

Also: Easley dismisses conspiracy theories about quarantine camps, WPLN -FM hires a new political reporter, the Titans launch a new PAC, and GOP lawmakers confirm they consider it their duty to tell locals what to do.

Access the your TNJ copy here or subscribe here.

Dems call for transparency, community input for redistricting process

Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) attends a floor session to adjust the course of the legislative session in response to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With raw census data scheduled to be released on Thursday, Tennessee Democrats are calling for transparency in the once-per-decade redistricting process.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee communities should have a voice in mapping the state’s political future for the next decade, lawmakers said Tuesday in a letter to legislative leaders, and citizens should not have to wait until 2022 to see new proposed district lines.

The process of drawing new electoral boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislative districts only happens once every 10 years after the U.S. Census releases local data.

While many states have laws that require political boundaries to be drawn with community input, Tennessee’s process is controlled entirely by the majority party in the legislature.

In a letter dated Aug. 10, Democratic leaders in the Tennessee General Assembly urged the Republican speakers of both chambers to commit to an open and transparent process that provides citizens with opportunities to offer feedback on proposed maps.

“Perhaps more than any other single decision, the drawing of district boundaries will shape the policies adopted by the state over the next decade,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe Tennesseans understand their communities and deserve a voice in how their communities will be represented.”

The letter was signed by ​​Democratic leaders Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) and Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis) as well as both caucus chairs, Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) and Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville).

In the letter, lawmakers called on the speakers to follow three community-driven principles for drawing Tennessee’s new legislative districts:

1. Maintain an open and transparent process. “Citizens deserve a districting process they can understand and trust, as well as information about how they will be able to engage with key decisionmakers. In many states, this process includes a special committee that travels the state hosting public meetings, as well as a website that provides the public with the same updated information available to the legislative decisionmakers.”

2. Offer public and community engagement opportunities. “Citizens deserve opportunities, prior to our regular legislative session, to engage on this issue. We would request that a series of public hearings be held across the state, and that these hearings also be broadcast online, and that the General Assembly employ digital tools to permit the public to offer input and even submit district map proposals.”

3. Seek public input on the first drafts of maps this fall. “Throughout the nation, it’s become common for citizens and communities to review proposed maps well in advance of final adoption. We would propose making first drafts available to the public this fall in an easily usable format, with updates released prior to any formal consideration. Community leaders and members of the public need time to review maps, offer input, and even suggest or request changes prior to any community districting legislation being voted upon.”

“The community districting process should be among the most public endeavors that our state government undertakes. The General Assembly has access to the technology to make this process transparent and even interactive,” the Democratic leaders wrote. “Far from slowing down the legislative work of drawing new district lines, we believe such efforts would not only build trust but also lead to a stronger final product.”

On Aug. 12, the ​​Census Bureau<https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/news-conference-2020-census-redistricting-data.html> will publish the first local level results from the 2020 Census, including data on race, ethnicity and the voting-age population.

Changes in population and demographics that have taken place over a decade will be used to draw new federal and state district maps — roughly equal in population.

Earlier this year, the nonpartisan group Think Tennessee<https://www.thinktennessee.org/research/elections-civic-life/> wrote about the benefits of a more public and transparent community districting process.

“Opening a window into Tennessee’s redistricting process to allow citizens to meaningfully participate would enhance their trust in the system,” Think wrote. “In a state that consistently ranks near the bottom of the country on voter registration and turnout, redistricting is a key opportunity to deepen civic engagement.”

Think also says Tennesseans historically have had fewer opportunities for public participation, and less access to draft district maps, than people in most other states.

“While most states proactively seek public input in the redistricting process, Tennesseans’ opportunities for engagement previously have been limited to submitting draft maps and sharing their opinions with their legislators,” the nonprofit wrote.

Democrat Potts won’t run for state House again next year

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Rep. Jason Potts (D-Nashville) won’t seek another term in the General Assembly next year, The Tennesseans Natalie Allison reports. Potts missed 21 of 34 legislative days this session, telling the paper the job doesn’t pay enough, that he wants to spend more time with his young family, and that he was “discriminated against” by the Republican supermajority.

Potts is the second lawmaker to say he won’t be returning next year. Republican Rep. Bruce Griffey of Paris has said he wants to run for a judicial seat or district attorney general in 2022. Several other lawmakers are expected to step aside with redistricting looming.

“I’m not going to run again when I’m discriminated against every day,” Potts told the paper about his inability to get legislation passed.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) rejected Potts’ assertion as “utter nonsense.”

“In order to pass legislation, you should be in the General Assembly to actually run a bill,” Sexton said.