CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The maps aren't out yet, but Kanawha County residents can expect a few sure things when lawmakers redraw Statehouse district lines later this summer.
Population loss means the county will lose a state Senate district. Borders for the areas served by House of Delegates members will have to be tweaked. And the debate over single-member House districts will continue.
Lawmakers expect Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, acting as governor, to call a special session on redistricting in early August. The Legislature must change district borders -- both for Statehouse and congressional districts -- to account for population changes since the 2000 census.
West Virginia has 58 House districts divided among 100 members. The 17 Senate districts are each served by two members.
Kanawha County has 11 state delegates. Three House districts lie within the county: the seven-member 30th -- the largest multimember district in the nation -- the single-member 31st and the three-member 32nd.
Four senators now serve the county in two Senate districts, the 8th and the 17th.
Combined, those two Senate districts have lost more than 7,000 people since 2000, bringing the total population to about 193,000, according to census figures.
"They've lost population to the point where there's no way of maintaining two senatorial districts solely in Kanawha," said Senate Majority Leader John Unger, a Berkeley County Democrat heading the Senate's redistricting committee.
"There's going to be a definite line that'll go through Kanawha, that people on one side will have a Senate district, and people on the other side will have a Senate district," Unger said.
Lawmakers are working behind the scenes on potential maps. Citizen suggestions for changes are posted to the Legislature's website, but lawmakers haven't released their own drafts.
Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, said there will probably be one Senate district entirely in Kanawha County and another that lies in both Kanawha and a surrounding county.
"I think the most likely scenarios are either Putnam or Boone [counties]," he said. "Those are the two that I'm hearing."
As far as the House, the 31st District will not see any dramatic changes, said Delegate Meshea Poore, who represents the area.
It has lost about 1,700 people over the past decade, census figures show.
The district will have to pick up about a precinct and a half -- likely from North Charleston or the West Side hill area -- to make up for the population loss, said Poore, a Democrat.
"It won't be a large shift," Poore said. "It won't be that far of an expansion, but it will be enough to get our numbers back, and to be able to serve them well."
The 31st is West Virginia's only "minority influence" district, created to ensure that minorities have a voice in the Legislature.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said the entire Kanawha delegation hopes it can keep 11 House seats for the county. Because of population loss, the 32nd District would have to pick up a few precincts, possibly from areas that straddle two districts, such as Nitro.