Tags: Jindal, Bobby Jindal, Northshore, Louisiana legislature, Louisiana redistricting, US Congress, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, North Louisiana, Florida Parishes, Jeff Landry, Houma, Thibodaux, Louisiana governor
Because Louisiana's population gain was so anemic over the past decade and the state was not able to match growth in other states, we are losing a congressional seat. Legislators were forced to remake seven congressional districts into six. The process was not easy and created real controversy. Although he claimed he would not get involved, Governor Jindal insisted that the congressional redistricting plan protect two districts in North Louisiana, despite the region’s lackluster population growth. When the process slowed down, Jindal and five of the state’s congressional delegation favored delaying the redistricting process until next year. While legislators balked about waiting and displayed a rare show of independence, they eventually passed the plan the Governor favors.
All of the redistricting maps must be approved by the Department of Justice before elections can be held this fall. There is a chance the districts will be rejected and the legislators will have to start the whole process over again.
If the congressional realignment is accepted, it will be a major defeat for the fastest growing region of the state, the Florida Parishes. This region includes the eight parishes of the Northshore, which has experienced increases in population while most of the rest of Louisiana has had stagnant growth or suffered losses in population. The new congressional map carves the Northshore into four congressional districts. Especially troubling is that the fifth congressional district now runs from Monroe to Bogalusa. How can a member of Congress be expected to adequately serve the divergent needs of both Ouachita and Washington Parishes?
The new congressional districts are gerrymandered to a maximum degree and are not geographically compact. Along with the Florida Parishes, the big losers are citizens in St. Landry, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, which are now in different congressional districts. Newly elected Congressman Jeff Landry lost his district, so the residents of Houma and Thibodaux will have to suffer. Clearly, the legislature was influenced by the strong arm tactics of the Governor and the long serving members of Congress and made a decision that was not based on what is best for the people of Louisiana, but what serves the interests of entrenched politicians.
Although the congressional realignment process was very flawed, it is a minor issue compared to the real problems facing Louisiana. Legislators and Governor Jindal need to eventually address the elephant in the room, our outdated and troubled economy. For the second time in 20 years Louisiana has lost a seat in Congress. In other words, the state has lost a quarter of its congressional delegation in a very short time frame. If our “leaders” do not start addressing that problem, we are doomed to have these painful sessions almost every decade.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].
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