SC House wraps up redistricting hearings; maps up next

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A special South Carolina House committee considering drawing new districts based on the 2020 U.S. Census is holding its final meeting to gather public comment this week.

Attention will now turn toward finishing the new maps of U.S. House and state Senate and House districts that must be approved by the General Assembly and will likely also face a court review.

Candidates will need to have those new districts in place before filing for the 2022 primaries and election begins in March.

In recent public meetings, lawmakers from rural and minority districts and their constituents have asked special committees in both the House and Senate to consider allowing districts that are up to 10% above or below the population if the districts were all drawn with equal numbers of people.

They said that will prevent diminished representation for African Americans and in rural areas, which both lost population from 2010 to 2020.

Both chambers have leaned toward using the 2010 criteria, which allowed up to a 5% difference.

The House’s redistricting committee meets 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Blatt Building at the Statehouse to listen to the public both in person and online.

The committee with five Republicans and three Democrats just finished holding nine meetings around South Carolina on what criteria should be used to draw maps for the 46 state Senate districts, 124 state House districts and seven U.S. House districts based on 2020 U.S. Census data.

The Senate subcommittee held 10 hearings across the state. They set their criteria for new districts earlier this month.

The two chambers usually don’t alter the other chamber’s map. Both chambers will work together on the U.S. House map.

South Carolina added nearly 500,000 people from 2010 to 2020 to become the 23rd largest state in the U.S. with 5.1 million people, according to the Census.

Much of that growth was along the coast and the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. Twenty-four of South Carolina’s 46 counties lost population, mostly in rural areas.