By State Representative Gabe Firment
On Tuesday, February 1st the Louisiana State Legislature will convene a 3 week special session for redistricting, or the redrawing of political boundary lines based on new census data. Federal and state laws require that most political boundaries be redrawn every 10 years, including Congressional districts, state legislative seats, the Public Service Commission, and BESE districts. Louisiana’s six Congressional districts are required to be essentially equal in population, while the other districts are allowed to have a 10% differential.
The most significant issue facing the legislature’s redistricting efforts is the stagnant population growth the state experienced the past 10 years and the continued shift in population from North Louisiana to parishes primarily located south of Interstate 10. Louisiana’s population only grew at a rate of 2.74% over the past decade compared to 10.22% by neighboring Southern states. The loss of population in North and Central Louisiana will likely lead to the loss of a state Senate district, at least one state House of Representatives district, and potentially even the loss of a Congressional district.
Losing a Congressional district to South Louisiana would be a big blow to North Louisiana, as it would further weaken our influence and likely leave us just one voice in Congress to represent a vast and diverse geographic region encompassing Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria and all points in between. Governor Edwards has also stated that he wants to create a second Congressional district with a majority black population, however, it is illegal to create districts solely based on racial gerrymandering. Although Republicans in the state House and Senate have significant majorities, the governor can veto any redistricting plan that he does not agree with.
The importance of the upcoming redistricting session cannot be overstated as it will shape the political landscape of our state for at least the next 10 years. It is absolutely critical that we have political boundaries that allow for people to be represented by elected officials who share their values and will go to Washington D.C. or Baton Rouge and fight for the interests and beliefs of those they represent. You can find more Census information here: census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-population-and-housing-state-data.html and more redistricting information here: redist.legis.la.gov/2020_Files/MtgFiles/PowerPoint.pdf.
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