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The end is a long way off

The state House gave final approval to its preferred plans for redrawing the state's congressional districts. But the Legislature is a long way from rolling up its maps and going home.

The Senate today is expected to vote on its own plans for congressional reapportionment. Then the two sides will try to fit the pieces of their plans together into a single compromise.

It won't be easy. The negotiations over congressional reapportionment are virtually certain to get even more tangled when House and Senate members begin redrawing lines for themselves next week. The process could drag on for weeks or even months more, lawmakers say.

The Senate plans under consideration today include several Democratic and Republican plans that vary in minor details. In addition, plans proposed by the legislativeblack caucus and Hispanic caucus are expected to be offered, as well as a compromise plan drawn up by Sen. Arnett Girardeau, D-Jacksonville, and a version of a plan submitted by the public interest group Common Cause. Senate President Gwen Margolis said Thursday that she expects the Girardeau plan to be adopted. But anything is possible in the closely divided Senate, she said.