Proposed map adds second predominantly black district

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A proposed Louisiana congressional map with a second majority-Black district, which could deliver another U.S. House seat to Democrats, received bipartisan support and advanced through a legislative committee Tuesday.
During the second day of Louisiana’s special redistricting session, lawmakers took their first in-depth look at proposed congressional boundaries, backed by newly inaugurated GOP Gov. Jeff Landry. Under the proposal, the district currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Garret Graves would become a majority-Black district.
GOP state Rep. Glen Womack, who filed the legislation, said that race was not the “predominate factor” in deciding where the new boundaries would lie, but rather “politics drove this map” — ensuring that the seats of Louisiana’s leadership in congress, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, would likely be reelected.
Unsurprisingly, Graves was not pleased with the proposed map, sarcastically praising the “imaginative creativity” of the bill, The Advocate reported. Under the current map, in Graves’ district 23% of the voting-age population is Black. With the proposed map, that number would increase to 54%.
Louisiana is among the list of states still wrangling over congressional districts after the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that Alabama had violated the Voting Rights Act. The battle over Louisiana’s congressional boundaries has played out in the legislative chambers and in court for more than a year and a half.
The current map — which a federal judge said violates the Voting Right Act by diluting the power of Black voters — has white majorities in five of six congressional districts despite Black people accounting for one-third of Louisiana’s population.
Currently the only majority-Black district, which encompasses most of New Orleans and stretches to Baton Rouge, is held by U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, the state’s sole Black and Democratic member of Congress.
Louisiana residents braced icy roads Tuesday to travel to Baton Rouge and let lawmakers know how they felt about yet another redistricting session and lack of a second majority-Black district in the currently used map.
“We are sick and tired of going through the same thing over and over again when you have been elected to do a job that you are not doing,” Wilfred Johnson, founder of an organization in Iberia Parish that helps residents exercise their right to vote, said to lawmakers during the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee meeting. “We deserve fair mapping.”
Officials have until Jan. 30 to pass new congressional boundaries with a second majority-minority district. If they do not meet the deadline, a district court will hold a trial and “decide on a plan for the 2024 elections,” according to a November court order by the U.S. Additionally, Baton Rouge-based U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick has signaled she will create a new map if lawmakers don’t complete the task.
“For various reasons — known and unknown, spoken and unspoken — closure of this redistricting problem has evaded us,” Gov. Landry said to lawmakers as they gaveled in Monday night. “It is time to stop averting the issue and confront it head on.”
Landry, who as the former attorney general fought for the current map in use, said that at this point all legal remedies have been exhausted. He urged the GOP-dominated Legislature to adopt a new map that would satisfy the court, instead of possibly putting the task in the hands of “some heavy-handed federal judge.”
The proposed map is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor on Wednesday. If it advances out of the Senate, it still needs to be heard, debated and voted on by the House. Lawmakers must adjourn no later than 6 p.m. on Jan. 23.

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