Louisiana redistricting special session set for Feb. 1

Staff Report
Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales), right, speaks with Senate President Page Cortez, (R-Lafayette) on June 1, 2020, in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) and State Senate President Page Cortez (R-Lafayette) have signed a proclamation to convene a special session to tackle the constitutionally mandated redistricting process.

The session will begin Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. and extend through Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.

The 20-day period will give Louisiana's lawmakers time to redraw the congressional, state House, and state Senate districts. They will also work on state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Service Commission, and Supreme Court districts.

Maps are adjusted every decade upon the release of updated Census data.

According to a WRKF public radio report, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in December he supported redrawing congressional maps to include two majority minority districts to better represent the Black population in Louisiana. Roughly a third of the state's population is Black.

In the last redistricting cycle, the 2nd Congressional District included a large percentage of Black voters, as its boundaries snaked along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to north of Baton Rouge. 

Public Affair Research Council of Louisiana, a private, nonprofit research organization, released its first in a three-part series of publications analyzing the redistricting special session.

As pointed out by PAR, the state had more than 4.6 million residents recorded in the 2020 Census, representing an "anemic growth rate of 2.7 percent."

Louisiana trailed the national average growth rate of 7.4 percent and the Southern regional average of 10.2 percent. Mississippi, which lost population, was the only state in the South to have a slower growth rate than Louisiana.

Rural and northern Louisiana parishes lost residents over the decade, while cities in the southern region of the state and suburbs saw gains. The New Orleans area, the Baton Rouge suburbs, and Calcasieu Parish recorded the highest numbers, though Hurricane Laura's impacts had an effect on southwestern Louisiana