CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A special session to redraw House, Senate and congressional districts is likely to start Aug. 1, coinciding with the previously scheduled August legislative interim meetings.
On Thursday, the House of Delegates sent members an email indicating that Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, "anticipates a special session on redistricting to begin Monday, Aug. 1."
In the Senate, Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, said the Select Committee on Redistricting is aiming to complete its proposals by the end of July, in anticipation of an early August special session.
"I've been pushing for that," Unger said Thursday of an early August special session. "Our task force has kind of targeted that as the date we want to be completed and ready to roll."
The Senate has been conducting a series of public hearings around the state on redistricting, with the last of the hearings set for Princeton in mid-July.
The House redistricting committee held its first meeting Tuesday. At that meeting, county clerks from around the state urged lawmakers to complete the redistricting plans by Labor Day, so that they will have time to redraw precincts as necessary to conform with the new districts. Those changes need to be finalized before the candidate-filing period for the 2012 elections opens in January.
Unger said he favors that timeline.
"If you start getting into September, some of the clerks in smaller counties don't have a lot of staff," he said, "and that puts pressure on them."
Jacqueline Proctor, spokeswoman for Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, who is acting as governor, said it is premature for the Governor's Office to set the special session call for Aug. 1.
"It is anticipated that we'll have a special session then, but the governor can't call it until things are further decided upon," she said. "We're looking at August, but things could change between now and then, as to the Aug. 1 date."
Unger said he wants to see the special session wrap up in no longer than three or four days.