NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lawmakers in the Tennessee House of Representatives met Monday night to decide who represents Tennessee voters for the next 10 years, with Republican state lawmakers voting in favor of approving several bills tied to redistricting.
Lawmakers considered changes to district maps to determine who represents each district in the State Legislature and U.S. Congress. As of 7:45 p.m., the Republican-majority House voted to approve all three maps for the Tennessee House, Senate and Congress.
Democrats argued the maps were drawn with the intent of splitting up votes to further bolster the Republican Party's representation in the state legislature and Congress. The Tennessee Democratic Party said it is "prepping a lawsuit" as the maps head to Gov. Bill Lee's desk.
Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) said she could see a massive change in her 13th district with the way the Republican-majority legislature proposed redrawing the State House district map.
"They drew my portion out and put it into a different district. It is frustrating," Johnson said.
She said her Republican rivals are changing her district to benefit the GOP. Johnson said there's gerrymandering with the proposed redistricting plans.
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"There's absolutely gerrymandering going on," Johnson said. "I mean, there's no question. Anybody who tries to deny that is just really embarrassing themselves."
Senator Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville) said she disagrees, calling the redistricting process complicated.
"I believe that what we've done in the Senate is fair and likable and meets all the requirements that it needs to have," Massey said.
Knox County Democrats said the redistricting map unconstitutionally splits Knoxville's Black-majority neighborhoods between three districts.
The League of Women Voters of Tennessee said in a statement, "The failure to keep communities whole has an impact throughout our state and not just in our urban areas. The arbitrary slicing of rural and suburban communities through a partisan redistricting process does a disservice to our citizens."
Massey said she believes there's equal representation in each district.
"I think it's important that we represent everybody. There are African Americans that live all over Knox County," Massey said.