Minden Press-Herald

Thursday
Oct 02nd

Senate districts get OK

The state's 39 Senate districts have joined the 105 House districts in re-mapping pre-clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"It's good news, as far as I'm concerned," said District 36 Sen. Robert Adley. "Unless somebody protests, takes it to court and causes it to be redrawn, we will not go back into special session, and the districts will stand as they came out."

Justice Department approval doesn't stop the possibility of lawsuits trying to block the new maps, which are slated to take effect with the October 22 primary.

Louisiana's election districts require approval from federal officials under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, to ensure they are free of discrimination against minorities.

If the Senate districts had been rejected by the Department of Justice, lawmakers would have had to convene a special session to get the work done quickly before the September qualifying dates for the fall election cycle.

In a special redistricting session earlier this year, lawmakers redrew the state House, state Senate, congressional and utility regulatory districts to account for the population shifts shown in the 2010 census data.

Adley's district had grown which meant he was required to give up a portion.

"I couldn't give it up to the west because the west had also grown," he said. "The only way was east and south and because the federal government requires an additional minority district, my district became a prime target for how to create a minority district out of it."

Adley said there were plans to split up Webster and Bossier parishes' Senate districts, but none of those passed.

"A portion of Bienville – mostly my minority voters – went south into another district, and what I had in Red River – which was also mostly minority voters – went south," he said.

A new district was created in north and south Louisiana, he pointed out.

The Senate redesign includes 11 minority districts in the 39-member chamber, up from 10 now. New minority districts will be created in north Louisiana and along the Mississippi River in south Louisiana, and a district in which the incumbent is term-limited will be carved up to make the plan work.

The House increased the number of its majority black districts from 27 to 29 in its redesigned map. Both chambers upheld the longstanding tradition of not meddling in each other's district reshaping.

 

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