Rep. Ramsey: Census data in, redistricting to start

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With the new raw Census data now available for Georgia, legislators will be looking forward in coming months to the process of redistricting, and Peachtree City Rep. Matt Ramsey, a Republican, will play a key role in the process, chairing the subcommittee for House and Senate Legislative Districts.

Ramsey this week said there will be a series of 10 to 12 public hearings all over the state to get input from citizens on the matter.

“At the end of the day we want to conduct the process fairly and inclusively, and not enact a partisan gerrymandering of the state as resulted when Roy Barnes was governor, resulting in the current map for Fayette County,” Ramsey said.

The redistricting process involves the use of Census population data to redraw the lines for not just the state legislative seats but also Georgia’s congressional districts.

Not only will Ramsey play a key role, but Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, is a member of the Senate’s Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.

For right now though, it’s too early to get any kind of handle on how the changes might affect Fayette County, Ramsey added.

“In terms of what the maps will look like, we won’t know until we go through that process this summer,” Ramsey said.

In other news, Ramsey reported the status of his immigration bill that has been approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate approved a slightly different bill, so now it’s a matter of which chamber “votes over” its bill to the other side, Ramsey said.

Once that occurs, it’s likely that a conference committee will be appointed in an attempt to resolve the matter.

Also of note, Ramsey said a tax reform package most certainly will not occur this year, as it is too late in the legislative session for it to be considered.

Legislators have been digesting a number of recommendations from a specially-appointed council that studied ways to end Georgia’s income tax and replace it with a consumer-driven tax system.

Although a bill listing all the tax council’s recommendations has been introduced, Ramsey predicts not all of them will remain in the bill “when, or if, it is passed.”

“This proposal needs a GREAT deal of study,” Ramsey writes in an email he sends to constituents on the matter.

The bill as constituted would result in a one-third to one-half reduction in the state’s 6 percent income tax rate in exchange for levying the state sales tax on some services and eliminating certain sales tax exemptions, Ramsey said.