Proposal calls for new Carolina Forest district in SC House

Published: May. 20, 2011 at 12:05 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2011 at 12:31 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A proposed redistricting plan adds a new district for the Carolina Forest area of Horry County in the State House of Representatives.

The State House of Representatives released the proposed plan late Wednesday. It calls for the Carolina Forest area to get a representative in Columbia because of the population growth in that part of Horry County explained Representative Alan Clemmons. The Republican from Myrtle Beach is the Chair of the House Elections Laws Subcommittee overseeing the redistricting proposal.

The new Horry County District would be District 56, and it would be carved mostly out of District 105, with some of the district also coming from the current Districts 104 and 68. Those Districts are represented by George Hearn, Tracy Edge and Thad Viers respectively.

"The more voices we have the better off we are," commented Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice.

Rice said having an extra voice from Horry County could help keep more tax money in the county.

He said currently, of the money Horry County sends to Columbia, the county gets the lowest percentage of that money back compared to the rest of the state's counties.

"Our money is used across the state" Rice said. "It builds Charleston's bridges and Greenville's roads and Columbia's roads, and yet Horry County has to build its own roads. We paid 72 percent of the cost of Highway 31 and Highway 22."

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives also released their proposed plan for the state's new seventh Congressional District. That new district means a seventh US House representative for South Carolina in Washington, DC. The proposed plan could also give more political clout to Horry County because it includes Horry County and several Pee Dee Counties, Georgetown County and parts of Berkeley County. Horry County would be the largest population center in the proposed district.

Florence and Marion Counties would be in the new district, moving them out of the 6th Congressional District represented by Democrat Jim Clyburn.

The new District 7 also means a split of the current Congressional District 1. Horry County and the Charleston area would no longer share a representative. Rice said that is also a positive proposal for Horry County because the person election from the new District 7 would be more likely to push hard for interests in Horry County and the Pee Dee.

"Charleston has its own needs," Rice said. "Of course it's a large population center. I think it's a very good thing we will have a separate House district from Charleston."

The South Carolina Senate will also release redistricting proposals, and the new districts could be finalized by the end of June. The U.S. Justice Department will also review the finalized proposals, and any legal challenges would have to be settled before the new districts could become official.

The first time the new districts would be used is for next 2012 elections.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.