(Photo by Julie O’Donoghue)
The Louisiana Legislature will hold its special session on political redistricting from Feb. 1 to Feb. 20. The majority of legislators in both chambers endorsed the schedule.
State lawmakers will deliberate on new maps for Louisiana’s U.S. House seats, the state House of Representatives, Senate, Public Service Commission, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Supreme Court of Louisiana.
State and federal law requires most of Louisiana’s political districts to be redrawn once every 10 years.
Under federal law, congressional districts must be drawn so that they are equal in population to each other. Other political districts – including those in Louisiana Legislature, Public Service Commission and on BESE – must be within 10 percent of each other in terms of size.
Lawmakers aren’t legally required to adjust the Supreme Court district boundaries, but there’s a push to update them because the current seats are extremely out of balance. Some justices represent hundreds of thousands of more people than others, and the districts haven’t changed in over two decades.
One of the major redistricting issues facing lawmakers is what to do with the continued decrease in population in north Louisiana while the southeastern portion of the state increases. The Baton Rouge suburbs, New Orleans area and the Northshore continue to grow.
The racial makeup of Louisiana’s congressional delegation is also a point of debate. Thirty percent of Louisiana’s population is Black, but only one of the state’s six U.S. House seats is a majority-Black district. Louisiana’s Black population has also grown slightly over the past 10 years, while the state’s white population continues to drop.
The Republican-controlled Legislature has most of the control over the redrawing of the political maps, but Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, can veto the maps lawmakers approve. The Republican leadership currently doesn’t have enough seats in the state House to overturn the governor’s veto on GOP strength alone.
Edwards supports creating a second majority-Black congressional district but hasn’t said he will veto a Congressional map that doesn’t include a second majority-minority seat.
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