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Proposed redistricting map changes House District 113

A redistricting map released Friday by the chair of the House Redistricting Committee would remove Transylvania County from House District 113 and replace it with western Rutherford County.

Currently the N.C. House District 113 seat, held by Jake Johnson of Saluda, is made up of Polk and Transylvania counties and southern Henderson County. The House District 117 seat held by Tim Moffitt would remain largely unchanged, although it would become District 114.

The much-anticipated district map for the House was tweeted out by Rep. Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, on Friday afternoon. Hall, who chairs the House Redistricting Committee, labeled it "the chair's" proposed map.

Public hearings will begin at different locations across the state and are available to watch online starting Monday. Legislators are focused on making the redistricting process as public as possible because they would like to complete the maps for  congressional districts and the General Assembly by Nov. 5 ahead of the candidate filing period starting Dec. 6.

Adding to the challenge, North Carolina is getting a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives due to population growth over the past decade. According to Dr. Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation, mapmakers face dilemmas regarding the redistricting process.

Those dilemmas include Cumberland and Moore counties, which includes the Fayetteville area. He also talks about Asheville, in Buncombe County, and how the population will either be "packed," or consolidated into a small number of districts, or "cracked," meaning split over several districts.

"Even if you had only neutral criteria being the only thing that's guiding redistricting, you are going to have these dilemmas come up only because you cannot successfully accomplish everything that the legislature is setting out to do," said Jackson.

The redistricting process has been transparent in the past two weeks, with legislators working in an open committee room in which the public could attend or watch online. Maps had been drawn up with consultants behind closed doors until 2019, when a three-judge panel ruled that existing maps used as recently as 2018 were unconstitutional. The judges ordered a transparent map-drawing process for districts used in the 2020 elections.

Lawmakers decided to retain most elements of that court-ordered process for this year's redistricting.

The state has a long history of gerrymandering, with Republicans and Democrats drawing maps in favor of their party when they oversaw the General Assembly.

Public hearings will take place jointly at 3 p.m. Monday in the General Assembly auditorium, and at remote sites at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Caldwell Community College. There will also be a virtual hearing at 5:30 pm. Hearings continue Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the auditorium in the General Assembly and East Carolina University and Central Piedmont Community College, and virtually at 5:30 pm.