The session, which will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, 2011, will focus on redrawing congressional and state district lines based on recently released Census population data. This includes the state House and Senate, Public Service Commission, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), Courts of Appeals, and Supreme Court.
The session will also allow adjustment of state laws which affect areas based on population ranges to reflect the new data.
Due to the lack of population growth over the last 10 years, Louisiana will lose a congressional seat, reducing the number from seven to six. Federal and state district lines will change substantially due to the population shifts in the state, including those resulting from the hurricanes in 2005.
An overwhelming majority of legislators, 97 House and 37 Senate members, signed the petition to call themselves into special session.
The session must end no later than 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 13, 2011.
Joint, statewide public meetings by the House and Senate Governmental Affairs committees on the upcoming redistricting process begins February 17 and will end on March 1. The committees will show current district maps with the new Census population figures for current districts and discuss which districts no longer meet population guidelines. It is important for the public to participate in these meetings and make their opinions known so that the committees may consider public input as plans are drafted and discussed. With the special session beginning March 20, and the regular legislative session beginning on April 25, this will give the legislature a short time to complete the redistricting process, as the plans must be submitted to the U. S. Justice Dept. for pre-approval. The department then has at least 60 days to either approve or reject the plan. Additionally, qualifying for most offices affected by redistricting begins September 6.
In an effort to allow for maximum participation in the process, all meetings will be streamed live over the Internet. Further, comments and questions can be submitted at http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Redistricting2011/ . A list of meeting places and times are also available on the mentioned site.