HB 861 by Rep. Randal Gaines would redistrict the 32nd Judicial District into a district-based election system from an at-large system. He told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that recent court rulings have called this kind of system discriminatory. Gaines said this would be the seventh time a bill came in front of the Legislature to change it, and said the court likely would impose a remedy if it didn’t act.
Rep. Sam Jenkins asked whether a black judge had been elected there. Gaines admitted there was one, but called him an “anomaly” and claimed the system “discriminated” despite that. He claimed if that judge moved on, discrimination would occur. Rep. Steven Pugh asked about the status of the case. Gaines said the ruling was not final in order to give the Legislature a chance to act, so no appeal could occur.