senate democratic caucus

Redistricting: How Senate Democrats would do it

Democrats in the state Senate have submitted a plan for the chamber’s seats as part of the once-per-decade redistricting process.

Democrats currently hold six of 33 seats in the chamber. Republicans have yet to release their draft plan.

Here’s the release from the Senate Democratic caucus:

NASHVILLE—Nearly every city in the state and 87 counties are kept whole in Tennessee Senate districts under a proposed statewide map released Friday by Democrats.

“This proposal keeps communities together—whole counties and whole cities wherever possible,” says Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Tennessee Senate minority leader. “We want every member of every community to know that their voice matters in the state Senate and that their vote will make a difference.”

Democrats are releasing their 33–district Senate proposal after gathering input directly from Tennesseans at five public community meetings across the state. Additionally, members of the Democratic caucus participated in dozens more meetings hosted by local organizations to discuss how districts should change in 2022.

“This is a fair map that directly incorporates feedback from people and organizations who told us, ‘please keep our city together,’” Sen. Raumesh Akbari said. “This is a map that keeps more cities and more communities together than ever before. It’s a map that makes senators more accountable to the voters they serve.”

Biggest changes

Most of the districts in this proposal shift toward Middle Tennessee to accommodate for the region’s explosive population growth. But every district in the proposal retains core characteristics from the current map.

  • Antioch added to La Vergne & Smyrna’s Senate Seat: Senate District 13 maintains its base in western Rutherford County, but it now extends into southeast Nashville to create a full a Senate District for like-communities of Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna along the I-24 corridor.
  • Bradley County unsplit. This proposal undoes a controversial decision from 2012: splitting Bradley County into two districts. Senate District 10 instead returns to Hamilton County with its lines around the city of Chattanooga and Senate District 9 takes in the whole of Bradley County along with McMinn, Meigs and Rhea counties.
  • Full Senate Seat within Montgomery County: Following a decade where they county saw a near 30 percent growth in population, the city of Clarksville almost qualifies to have its very own state senate seat. In this proposal, Senate District 22 sheds two counties to the west and now captures the core of Clarksville along with unincorporated areas north of the Cumberland River.
  • West Tenn. Districts Get Bigger: West Tennessee saw slow growth in many counties and population loss in others — a trend that forces senate districts to expand geographically. As such: Senate District 24 grows east from six to eight counties. Senate District 26 grows east from eight to nine counties. Senate District 27 grows from 5 to 6 counties. And Senate District 32 grows from Tipton County and a portion of Shelby County to three counties and a portion of Shelby.

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Feds charge Democratic state Sen. Robinson with embezzlement

Freshman state Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) is facing federal theft and embezzlement charges.

Prosecutors allege Robinson stole stole more than $600,000 from her business, the Healthcare Institute, by paying herself more than what was allowed under the terms the grant she received, the Daily Mempian reports.

Robinson defeated the late Sen. Reginald Tate in the primary in 2018 and went on to win the heavily Democratic district.

The Senate Democratic Caucus issued the following statement:

It’s clear that Sen. Robinson’s work in the state legislature on behalf of her constituents is not in question here today. Just like every other American, Sen. Robinson deserves the presumption of innocence and due process under the law. Her case should be resolved by a court of law, not by the court of public opinion.”

Investigators this week searched Robinson’s home and business again after conducting earlier raids in February. The complaint alleges Robinson used the money to buy a vehicle for her daughter, clothing, and beauty products. She is also charged with spending grant money on her wedding and honeymoon, followed by legal fees for her divorce.

Robinson’s company, the Healthcare Institute, in 2015 received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2015 to educate people  “looking for a jumpstart to their education and also to provide patient education to the elderly community.”

An anonymous complaint filed in 2016 alleged Robinson had spent $550 in grant funds to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag. The agency’s inspector general opened an investigation, which the FBI later joined.