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Once-in-a-decade redistricting session in Louisiana legislature gets official start date

Wallis Watkins

Louisiana’s once-in-a-decade restricting session will officially begin Feb. 1, state lawmakers announced Tuesday.

Over 20 days, state lawmakers will redraw the state’s congressional, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Service Commission, state Supreme Court, and state House and Senate districts.

The timing of the session comes as no surprise. Late last month state lawmakers began circulating a petition to formally call for the decennial redistricting session, and legislative leaders had repeatedly said that they planned to hold the session in February, before the legislature is scheduled to begin its 2022 regular session in mid-March.

The redistricting session is being held later than usual because of a series of pandemic-related delays to U.S. Census data collection and compilation.

The process will likely lead to significant changes in the state’s electoral maps just months before candidates will qualify for this fall’s congressional, state public service commission and state Supreme Court races.

The legislature officially released the start date for the redistricting session on the same day members of the Joint Governmental Affairs Committee held the penultimate meeting of its redistricting roadshow, in which the panel provided a review of the demographic changes the state has undergone in the last decade and invited members of the public to share their priorities for the redistricting session.

One of the most common requests from the public is for lawmakers to draw congressional districts that better represent the state’s Black population. Approximately one third of the state’s population identifies as Black, according to Census data, but only one of the state’s six congressional districts has a majority-minority population.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has publicly stated that he would like to see the state’s new congressional map include a second majority-Black district and has vowed to veto maps that suffer from “defects in basic fairness.” The move to create a second majority-Black district would almost certainly result in the loss of a safe Republican seat in Congress — a tough sell for the state's GOP-led state legislature.
Copyright 2022 WRKF. To see more, visit WRKF.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.

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