Oklahoma House rejects Senate redistricting plan

Thursday, May 23rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A Senate-passed congressional redistricting plan was rejected by the House on Thursday by a narrow vote.

The plan, which would have thrown incumbent Republicans Ernest Istook and Frank Lucas into the same district, was voted down 53-to-48.

It takes 51 votes to pass a bill in the 101-member House. Four Democrats joined 49 Republicans in voting against the measure.

House consideration came as final arguments were under way in an Oklahoma County district court on a GOP-sponsored lawsuit pointing to legislative inaction on drawing congressional boundaries.

The House has been deadlocked on congressional redistricting since the start of the session.

In calling for a vote on the Senate plan, Rep. Loyd Benson, D-Frederick, said it drew favorable testimony from experts on both sides in the Oklahoma County case.

``If we don't vote on some plan, we are abdicating our responsibility,'' said Benson, chairman of the House Congressional Redistricting Committee.

He said a decision to vote on the Senate plan was made because efforts to work out a compromise with Republicans had been thwarted by opposition from state Republican Chairman Chad Alexander.

Alexander has supported a plan advanced by Gov. Frank Keating and Republican Congress members.

Prior to the House vote on Thursday, Benson won a test vote along party lines, 51-48, to cut off amendments.

But Democrats did not stick together on the vote pushed by Benson.

Joining Republicans in voting against the Senate proposal were Reps. Jack Bonny, D-Burns Flat; James Covey, D-Custer City; Bill Paulk, D-Oklahoma City, and Clay Pope, D-Loyal.

The plan passed the Senate several weeks ago, 27-19.

Oklahoma is losing one of its six members of Congress this year because the state's population did not grow as fast as other states.