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Confusion and chaos were on the minds of legislators and Capital insiders Wednesday as they considered the effects of Tuesday’s court decision striking down Georgia’s redistricting maps. Most feared it will be anything but business as usual the next 2 1/2 weeks, the time frame the court gave legislators to draw new House and Senate maps. Rep. Thomas C. Bordeaux Jr., a Savannah Democrat and the head of the House Judiciary Committee, said he thought the ruling was “bizarre’ and will take the focus off other important issues. “If I’m over in Iraq, trying to rebuild a building, and people start shooting at me, the answer is yes, it takes the focus off rebuilding,” Bordeaux said. “Any politician up for election this year, which is all of us, has had one eye on the campaign coming up in the spring and the fall, one eye on their opponent, and now he doesn’t know where his district is,” the personal injury lawyer added. Still, Bordeaux, whose committee handles some of the Legislature’s most sensitive and complex bills, said it was too early to predict the ruling’s specific impact on business under the Gold Dome. “I don’t even know where I’m going to sleep next week,” he grumbled, referring to the possibility that the Legislature could recess to consider new maps. However, House majority and minority leaders said they didn’t think a recess would be necessary. Rep. J. Glenn Richardson, R-Dallas, House minority leader, sounded calm about finishing the maps by March 1. “We’re a skilled group of people and can multitask,” he said. “Frankly, it’s a map-drawing exercise, something we should be good at. A computer draws those,” he added. House Majority Leader James M. Skipper Jr., a lawyer from Americus, said he’s not sure lawmakers will be successful getting the new maps through in time. Getting all the approvals needed, from the House, the Senate, the governor, the court and the Justice Department will be the biggest barriers to being ready for elections, he said. Sen. M. Kasim Reed, a Holland & Knight partner and ally of Atlanta Mayor Shirley C. Franklin, said the ruling could hurt budget negotiations, which will require bipartisan cooperation to win approval from the Democratic House, the Republican Senate and the GOP governor. “Candidly, we’ll have to work hard to make sure the business of Georgia continues to move on. But I won’t sugarcoat it,” he said, “The ruling creates a challenge.” However, Reed said he doesn’t think the court decision will jeopardize funding for the fledgling Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. “That struggle remains in the same position,” he said, explaining it will be hard in this budget cycle to come up with all the money the council has requested. But he doesn’t doubt the program will be allocated “a threshold level of funding.” Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of Southfire Newspapers in Blackshear, Ga., 250 miles from Atlanta, predicted short-term “chaos, confusion and animosity” at the Capitol, but also long-term gains. Williams was at the Capital to lobby on open records issues. A Democrat, Williams said his town in the “deep rural South” has had a 180-degree switch. Formerly Democratic country, now it’s 80 percent Republican, he said. He praised the ruling, even as he acknowledged that under a more “common-sense” map, his region probably would lose representation due to its population loss. It’s only fair the power goes where the people are, he said.

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