Legislature passes redistricting plan, Butler moves to District 23

Published 9:02 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Alabama Legislature passed plans in the early hours of Thursday morning to redraw the state’s 140 districts.

The House of Representatives approved the proposed Senate districts at approximately 4:30 a.m. by a vote of 65-36. The Senate passed the proposed plan for the House nearly an hour earlier by a vote of 23-12.

Every 10 years, following the Census, state lawmakers must redraw the legislative districts based on the new population numbers.

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The redrawing of the lines will shift Butler County from Senate District 30 to District 23. It had been in a district with Crenshaw, Pike, Autauga, Elmore and Lowndes Counties. It will now be grouped with Perry, Dallas, Wilcox, Monroe, Clarke, Conecuh, Lowndes and Marengo Counties.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said he was disappointed to learn that Butler County would not remain in District 30 with Crenshaw and Pike Counties.

“We have strong relationships with Crenshaw and Pike Counties, and that was certainly a benefit from an economic development standpoint,” McLendon said. “From day one we had said we wanted to stay with those counties, so we were disappointed to learn that we wouldn’t remain in the district.”

Sen. Bryan Taylor, who represents District 30, said the change to his district was unavoidable due to the population growth in north Alabama.

“Like I said on the Senate floor, I was happy for District 30 to stay the way it is, but that just wasn’t possible with the population shift,” he said. “With the district to the west of Butler County under populated by about 20,000 people, it made it necessary for Butler County to move into that district since the population of Butler County is roughly 20,000.”

McLendon said that while he and other officials fought to remain in District 30, he understood that they were fighting an uphill battle due to the population shift.

“I think with the numbers being the way they were, that this was the only way things were going to go,” he said. I’m not sure there was anything that could have been done, but we’re obviously disappointed with the way things turned out. Things will be OK, though. We’ll begin building new relationships with the folks to the west and we’ll look forward to working with whoever our senator is two years from now.”

Taylor said when it became obvious that District 30 would not remain intact, he began to work to ensure that Butler County wasn’t split into two districts.

“I did everything I could to make sure that Butler County was kept whole to ensure that it had a significant voice in Montgomery,” Taylor said.

Butler County will make the move to District 23, which is currently represented by Selma attorney Hank Sanders, in 2014. Until then Taylor will continue to represent all the current members of District 30.

“I’ll proudly represent Butler County for the next two years,” he said. “This area will always have a special place in my heart. There are a lot of people in Butler County and Greenville that have worked hard to bring reform to Montgomery, and I’m very appreciative of that, and look forward to continuing to serve them for the next two years.”

House District 90, which is represented by Greenville native Charles Newton, remained largely unchanged.

Prior to the redrawing of the district lines, it included Butler, Crenshaw and Conecuh Counties. It will now include all of Butler and Crenshaw Counties and parts of Conecuh, Coffee and Montgomery Counties.

“There were some significant changes to some districts, but fortunately ours didn’t change a whole lot,” Newton said. “Because of the population of Alabama, each district must have about 46,000 people in it, and our district was a little short of that. To make up the difference we added parts of Coffee and Montgomery Counties.”

Attempts to reach Sanders for comment were unsuccessful.