Gov. Haley to sign redistricting bill in MB, time changed - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Gov. Haley signs redistricting bill in MB

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Gov. Nikki Haley has officially inked a bill Monday morning in Myrtle Beach in support of redistricting plans that would bring the state's seventh congressional district to the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.

The new seventh congressional district will place Horry and Georgetown counties together with the Pee Dee region of the state. Horry County was split from the Pee Dee and placed in a separate congressional district in 1992, according to State Sen. Thad Viers.

Now that the plan has been inked by Haley, it will be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval. However, Sen. Dick Elliott tells WMBF News that South Carolina has a track record for creating redistricting plans that ultimately get rejected by the Department of Justice.

Despite previous attempts, Viers and Haley both say they are optimistic the plan will pass. Viers says the effort is simply about putting the congressional puzzle back together and brining more attention to the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.

"We've always played second fiddle, if you will," Viers explained after the signing. "We're growing exponentially. We collect almost 20 cents to every tax dollar that's spent in this state. We're no doubt the county that drives the economic engine of this state - and it's our time."

Sen. Luke Rankin adds it will look at common interests among the counties and make sure minorities are not being under represented.

"Having passed a plan, we're on stronger footing we think and again the folks out in the public who are looking with some interest or acute interest hopefully will recognize that we have done something that is good for our area -- Horry, Florence and the Pee Dee region," suggests Sen. Rankin.

Viers also says strong public support behind placing the seventh congressional district in our region is a big factor that will be considered when gaining approval from the Department of Justice. He says added support by Haley will add extra appeal.

However, some concerns are being raised by some in Columbia that the plan approved on Monday is too conservative.

"We have a conservative state," Haley argued. "Find me a line that's not conservative in South Carolina. People in South Carolina are conservative by nature. You can go and find a liberal line if you want. Drawing it fairly is finding a conservative line, and I think that's great."

Officials say the Department of Justice is expected to give its final decision on the new congressional map in 60 days.

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