BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana lawmakers gave Baton Rouge area residents a chance to have their voices heard on how district maps should be redrawn.
The maps decide who represents the public on the BESE board, at the capitol, and in congress and have to be drawn every 10 years as census data is released.
“What happens in this process in all the various governing bodies is going to set the tone for ten years,” said Jenny Hastings of Baton Rouge.
Louisiana saw big shifts in population away from the north and more to the I-10/I-12 corridor. House and Senate members have been traveling the state meeting with constituents about their wants and concerns of how the maps will be made and who will represent them. Capital area community members came to share their thoughts at the meeting held at Southern University.
“I’m not so naive as to realize that there are not hidden agendas or unspoken goals that people have in mind… So those people who are sophisticated about that and do have a dog in the hunt are going to be wanting to catch the squirrel,” Hastings said.
Many arguments centered around having another minority-majority district to better reflect the more diverse population. In the 2020 census, it showed Louisiana’s population that identifies as white only dropped by over 6%, making the state more diverse than the previous decade.
With the shift of the state’s population towards the south, some House members could lose their seats, which is anticipated to create some tension at the capitol.
“It’s so personal, redistricting, to everyone. Everybody knows their district. They don’t want it to change and they’re very protective of it,” Rep. John Stefanski said.
The public urged legislators to have fair districts that best represent the people living in them. Some states that have completed their maps have already landed in court, which lawmakers hope Louisiana learns from.
“Don’t take just the party into consideration, but take geographic areas into consideration, take voting patterns in terms of cohesiveness and consideration so that we won’t end up in court,” Sen. Cleo Fields said.
Lawmakers will take all the information they collected at all of the meetings across the state and bring it back to the capitol in February during their special redistricting session. Those votes have to gain the approval of the House, Senate, and governor.