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Speaker: House will not try to redraw congressional districts

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Speaker Seth Hammett said Tuesday that the Alabama House will not attempt to redraw Alabama's congressional districts during the up-coming regular session of the Legislature.

"I want to lay this to rest today," Hammett said of talk among House members and senators that there might be an attempt by Democrats to redraw district lines — a move that might make it easier for Democrats to win an open election in the 2nd Congressional District seat.

Republicans had threatened to "shut down" action in the House if there was an effort to pass a redistricting plan or a move to change rules to make it easier for Democrats in the House to stop debate.

"Trying to redraw the boundary lines for the 2nd District during the next regular session is a bad idea," Hammett, D-Andalusia, said in a statement. "We don't need to waste time on things that divide us. We need to figure out ways to work together."

Hammett said he was not aware of anyone currently working on a redistricting plan. He said he would like to see the House concentrate on finding funding for Medicaid, which is expected to face a funding deficit. Other priorities for the coming session include passing the state's education and General Fund budgets, and ethics reform legislation, Hammett said.

"I will use whatever influence I have with members of both parties and the speaker's gavel to focus the efforts of the House on solving the everyday problems of the people of this state," the speaker said.

House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, praised Hammett for putting to rest talk of redistricting.

"I agree with the speaker. We have a lot more important things to deal with than redistricting," Hubbard said.

If redistricting had come up in the House "we would have had no choice but to shut everything down," Hubbard said.

The Legislature will be required to redraw Congressional and legislative lines after the 2010 U.S. Census.

One Democrat, Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said earlier Tuesday that he would oppose any attempt to redraw Congressional districts before the 2010 Census.

"They've got to run based on how the district is drawn now," Holmes said of Republicans and Democrats planning to run next year for the 2nd District seat.

Holmes has been in the House since 1974 and was one of the first blacks to serve in the Legislature.

"It would be morally and ethically wrong to attempt to redraw a legislative or congressional district because it is a majority Republican, Democratic, black or white district," Holmes said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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