State lawmakers prepare to redraw district map

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The U.S. Census Bureau released the latest numbers on Thursday, August 12, showing how the state population has shifted in certain areas. Now lawmakers will need to reconfigure how those legislative districts will look moving forward.

Once every 10 years, state lawmakers look at the population numbers and determine how to re-draw the state’s legislative district map. It determines who lawmakers represent in the Capitol, Congress and other important positions. The numbers released from the U.S. Census Bureau show population gains in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lake Charles. And, population loss in the more rural northern parts of Louisiana.

“I’ve been in the legislature for 11 years; redistricting was the first thing I did. In fact, I was sworn in at the opening of the redistricting session in 2011 and it was by far the most personal thing that has happened,” said State Rep. Alan Sebaugh (R).

Having been in the legislature since the last redistricting session, Rep. Sebaugh knows how crucial these lines can be when it comes to elections.

“If you look at the House in the 2011 election cycle, four incumbents lost but all four of them lost because of the way their districts were drawn,” Rep. Sebaugh added.

45 of the 64 parishes saw a decrease in population, including St. Charles, Terrebonne, Washington, St. John the Baptist, and St. James Parish. State Rep. Ted James (D) spoke on Monday, August 9 about what he hopes to see as a result.

“For us in Baton Rouge what I have really tried to stress is the importance of us looking forward to redistricting not as a party, not as a race, but as a region,” said Rep. James (D).

42,000 people is the cap for each member in the House of Representative’s district. Who gets what is where the debates lie. It essentially boils down to what lawmakers think is fair. Lawmakers will have an opportunity to present their own idea of how the map should look.

“We should be more focused on increasing the representation here in Baton Rouge not just in the legislature but in Congress. Our district should not be shared with New Orleans,” said Rep. James.

After there’s an agreement on the new map, the governor will then review it and determine whether those will be the new district lines. A date and time for the redistricting session are still in the works but we’re told it will likely begin in the latter weeks of January or early February.

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