Proposed North Little Rock, Maumelle split widens
State Senator Jane English said the division was 'not acceptable'
At the opening legislative hearing on Congressional redistricting in Arkansas on Tuesday afternoon, things got worse for North Little Rock and Maumelle instead of better.
Sen. Breanne Davis, a Republican of Russellville, presented Bill 765, that would cleave Pulaski County into two Congressional districts.
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At the hearing, Davis said, “we did everything we could to make sure that cities stayed together. So we didn't draw a line down the middle of Little Rock or North Little Rock or Jacksonville and Maumelle or whatever.”
Davis added that in developing the map, seen above, with co-sponsor state Rep. Jim Dotson, they followed “natural boundaries like the [Arkansas] River, like [Hwy.] 67/167.”
State Sen. Jane English, a Republican of North Little Rock, questioned Davis on the split and said that it would move the industrial area of the city to the 4th.
“That’s all of [North Little Rock’s] industrial area,” English said. “That’s where the new Amazon Fulfillment Center is. That’s all the trucking. All that area is the area you are looking at drawing out.
“That’s not acceptable.”
It isn’t just North Little Rock’s industrial area though. A read of the bill and the list of what voting precincts would get moved to the 4th Congressional District show that Davis either misspoke or was lying in the hearing.
The proposed map would send 38 Pulaski County voting precincts out of the 2nd and into the 4th. Among those 28 are some notables in Maumelle and North Little Rock.
The Hampton Inn Maumelle on Maumelle Boulevard would move to the 4th as would North Little Rock City Hall and Lakewood United Methodist Church and Central Baptist Church. So would the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Marche. One will note that all those locations are west of Hwy. 67/167, instead of east which is what Davis called the natural boundary on the map.
The proposal does keep Little Rock intact and in the 2nd but every other city in Pulaski County – Maumelle, North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville – would all be divided between the 2nd and 4th districts.
That’s a marginal improvement from a map proposed by Sen. Bart Hester, who had Pulaski County split three ways but Hester, who was in attendance at the meeting, called Davis’s map “the second best one he had seen.”
In response to further questions, from English and what Sherwood being divided, Davis said, “there were some weird precincts, with Sherwood that mix the two. And so it's a little confusing to explain but we kept whole precincts together.”
Just not cities.
Davis added later in the testimony that the proposed map would move around 105,000 Pulaski County voters out of the 2nd and into the 4th.
That’s a little more than a quarter of the county’s total population.
No action was taken and hearings will continue on Thursday.