Wednesday, 13 April 2011 18:48

Louisiana Legislative Redistricting Session Final Day?

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The Senate will not let this aggression stand. On the final day of the Special Session, President Joel Chaisson has pushed to reamend the plan the House passed Monday, HB6, to look like this:


Look familiar? It should, because it's exactly what the Senate passed Monday as SB23. Chaisson is drawing a line in the sand. This is the Senate map, period:

Chaisson, D-Destrehan, told members of the Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs that if a plan cannot be hammered out when the 6 p.m. Wednesday deadline rolls around, he will introduce a congressional remapping plan for debate at the next session, not next year as some of the members of the state's congressional delegation have asked.

"I am filing a bill for the regular session," he told the Senate panel that was squabbling over the last surviving bill on congressional redistricting. "I am not going to quit. We are not going to wait until next year."


"I don't think it is an option to wait until next year," Chaisson said. "We are not waiting until next year. That's ridiculous. We are trying to do everything we can to make it happen" now.

This impasse is going to be a political wedge. On one side, you have the Senate President, many Democrats, and some Republicans, that want to see the regional considerations taken first, while on the other side, you have partisan Washington-Republicans who want only to gerrymander the districts:

The governor wants it his way or no way because any plan that does not have two districts running south from Shreveport and Monroe would imperil the re-election prospects of the region's two Republican congressmen, and, worse, would degrade Jindal's national standing in the GOP.

That was the reason, more than his affinity for north Louisiana, why Jindal early-on committed to the congressional delegation's plan to preserve the northern districts and protect all incumbents, except for rookie GOP Congressman Jeff Landry of New Iberia, the lone dissenter...

Reactions from Jennings to Thibodaux to Bogalusa were emotional, defiant and at times over the top. From the impassioned pleas by chambers of commerce and ordinary citizens, putting a piece of Acadia Parish in the Shreveport-based district was made to sound as tragic as the British expelling the original Acadians from Nova Scotia and shipping them off to the wilds of Louisiana.

But even worse, per Maginnis:

If a north-south plan does not pass, Republicans would have only to blame GOP state senators who voted for region over party. Waiting to next year, they would hope the fall legislative elections increase their ranks with sturdier partisan loyalists to take up the unfinished business.

But delayed redistricting also might work against the GOP's hopes for two north Louisiana-based districts if they become campaign issues in south Louisiana this fall. Instead of coming to the aid of a party that conservative Democrats and independents don't belong to, south Louisiana voters might demand that legislators, or their challengers, look out for their regions over the interests of some congressmen they never heard of on the other side of the state.

Tip O'Neill had it right: All politics is local. And when locals wake up to what's being done to them, they might stand with their home ground and not either party, even if that means voting for legislators who will stand up to the governor.

It remains to be seen whether the Governor represents partisan, Republican Washington DC, or the diverse interests of the people of Louisiana.

by Lamar Parmentel, Chief curator of the Daily Kingfish

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