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Sec. of State asks for redistricting board hearing

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin on Tuesday proposed that the three-member Board of Apportionment and not its staff hold the panel's final public hearing on proposals to redraw the state's legislative districts.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin on Tuesday proposed that the three-member Board of Apportionment and not its staff hold the panel's final public hearing on proposals to redraw the state's legislative districts.

Martin proposed to fellow members Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel that the board hold a final public hearing proposed for July 25. McDaniel last week proposed the public hearing and called for a final vote on the new districts on July 27.

The board has been holding public hearings around the state on the proposals, but those meetings have been held by staff. Beebe and McDaniel are Democrats and Martin is a Republican.

"This would allow the public to talk directly to those who have a vote," Martin wrote in a letter to Beebe and McDaniel.

McDaniel last week proposed that all maps being considered be made available to the public by July 19. He also proposed the July 25 public meeting in Little Rock and a final vote by the board two days later.

Martin on Tuesday said he is "very favorable" on McDaniel's timeline, but also proposed a July 27 deadline for any amendments to the proposed maps.

So far, the only maps that have been released have come from Martin's office and redistricting coordinator Joe Woodson. Republicans have complained about the lack of maps from the two Democrats on the panel. McDaniel has said he won't release his maps until they're completed, and his office last week said he hoped to release a House and Senate map by his proposed deadline.

Beebe's office has said they won't begin drafting maps until after a July 7 hearing.

Though he didn't directly mention the lack of maps from Beebe or McDaniel, Martin wrote in his letter: "I look forward to hearing the public's comments on maps other than those my office has proposed."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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