Notes from the Senate
by Halei Lamb | August 8, 2018 5:13 pm
by SENATOR JACK HILL, 4th District
THE 2020 CENSUS AND REAPPORTIONMENT
The 2020 Census is just three years away and preparations have already begun on work to secure the best count possible. The Census is important for even more reasons than the apportionment of Congressional districts along with state and local districts. Federal funds are often dispensed based on population numbers. So an incorrect, low count can cost a community and the state federal funds for the next ten years.
Part of that preparation is the participation by local governments in the 2020 Census Local Update of Census Addresses Operation (LUCA). This process allows local governments to verify the residential address list in their areas before the 2020 Census. Each of the 159 counties and the cities within each county, receive this program to support verification.
PRESENT FEDERAL AND STATE DISTRICTS
Congressional districts are a factor of state population and the number of congressional seats a state earns due to population. Georgia has gained one or two congressional seats each of the last 3 census counts in 1990, 2000 and 2010 and today has a total of 14. That number of seats earned divided into the state population results in the population that will be assigned in each congressional district. Since 2010, that number has been 691,975 population per district.
Senate and House seats are created by dividing the state population by the number of seats in each body, 56 in the Senate and 180 in the House.
In 2010 Senate districts totaled a population of 172,994 each and House Districts totaled a population of 53,820.
Of course as the state increases population, these districts will increase in size. A new target number will be produced by dividing the state population by the number of seats and that will be the target population that each district will have to reach. Those districts that do not grow enough to match state growth will have to pick up areas of population and those that have grown more than the state growth will have to give up areas of population. That is where rural areas have been losing seats, by not growing as fast as the state as a whole.
HOW THE FOURTH DISTRICT STACKS UP
The first thing to remember is that the population numbers for years between the census counts are estimates. No number will be final until the Census is complete.
2010 POPULATION EST. 2017 POP. % GROWTH
BULLOCH 70,217 76,149 +8.4%
CANDLER 10,998 10,797 -1.8%
EFFINGHAM 52,250 59,982 +14.8%
EMANUEL* 15,935 15,887 -0.3%
EVANS 11,000 10,775 -2.0%
TATTNALL* 12,675 12,586 -0.7%
173,075 186,176 7.6%
*The Fourth district contains about 70% of Emanuel County and about 50% of Tattnall County.
WHAT WILL BE THE STATE GROWTH RATE IN 2020?
Or how much do rural districts have to grow to keep up with the state growth and not lose a seat. That is the $64 dollar question. That statewide growth rate was 17% in 2010 and rural areas lost a senate seat and some House seats. The best estimate I can find out expects a growth rate of around 10% for the ten year period.
HOW WILL THE FOURTH DISTRICT FARE?
Understanding that all of the numbers on population growth are estimates until the Census is complete, here is a best guess. The Fourth should have grown about 17,307 if the statewide number is 10%. If our estimates are in line, it looks as if the Fourth district would be short about 4,206 in population. That’s an estimated variance of about 2.3%. Pretty close. My mission in reapportionment is to try to keep the Fourth district intact.
I may be reached at 234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; 404-656-5038 (phone); 404-657-7094 (fax); e-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov; toll-free at 1-800-367-3334, day or night; or by phone at my Reidsville office, 912-557-3811.