Every 10 years, the Georgia State House and the Georgia State Senate must redraw the lines for House and Senate districts and United States Congressional districts in accordance with the law, using the U.S Census.
After that was completed by the House and Senate just a few weeks ago, our task was to re-draw the lines for Georgia’s 14 United States congressional districts. The new congressional district map passed the Senate Nov. 19, and the House on Nov. 22.
The originally-proposed map has been available for public comment for around two months, and the final map that was enacted is very similar to the proposed map. The new Congressional map, along with updated Georgia State House and Georgia State Senate maps, can be found on the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office website.
These new districts have been created in response to population trends and additional data provided by the U.S. Census. Georgia has added nearly one million people in the past ten years, making our total population 10.7 million. Georgia is now the eighth-most populous state in the country!
We have seen massive shifts in population centers all over the state. Population in many rural areas in Georgia, especially South Georgia, has declined dramatically. Meanwhile, our state has seen population growth in metro Atlanta and other urban areas of our state. Although Georgia’s population grew, we did not earn any additional congressional seats.
Some of the House and Senate Redistricting Committees’ priorities were to comply with federal guidelines, preserve district cores and population centers, accommodate communities of interest, and keep counties whole as much as possible.
One of the largest challenges that the committees faced was maintaining the correct number of Georgians in each district. Congressional districts in Georgia can have no fewer than 765,135 people and no more than 765,137 people – a very narrow margin for such large districts!
In House District 159, both Screven and Bulloch Counties remain in Congressional District 12, currently represented by Congressman Rick Allen.
Effingham County is currently divided between Congressional District 1, represented by Congressman Buddy Carter, and Congressional District 12. Under the updated Congressional maps, Effingham County remains represented by Congressmen Carter and Allen. Still, the dividing line has shifted slightly north, making Effingham County more equally divided between the two districts. I look forward to working with Congressmen Allen and Carter to represent Bulloch, Effingham, and Screven counties.
The primary focus for District 1 was to protect the district’s core while accounting for population loss. In District 12, the General Assembly incorporated feedback from the public requesting that Columbia County be made whole and the “Onion Belt” counties be preserved.
For most other districts, the primary priority was to protect the district core, accommodate population changes, and preserve communities of interest in the districts. The new map also makes Forsyth County whole in District 6 in response to requests from many Georgians.
These new maps are the result of many hours of hard work by members of both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate. The Redistricting Committees of the House and the Senate traveled across the state soliciting feedback from Georgians about their preferences for the map.
As always, if you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.