Debate on More Minority-Majority House Districts Pushed to Next Week

6206dfc0eebe9imageBATON ROUGE (The Center Square) – The Louisiana House postponed debate Friday over the more controversial amendments proposed to Speaker Clay Schexnayder’s redistricting bill for the lower chamber after debate on a competing proposal in the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The full House adjourned Friday after adopting minor amendments to Schexnayder’s House Bill 14, with the plan of taking up the measure and proposed amendments aimed at adding more minority-majority districts on Monday.

HB 14 would keep the current number of minority-majority legislative House districts at 29. Legislation deferred in the House and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday aims to add at least one more.

Democrats and civil rights advocates have pushed without success to increase minority representation in state and federal legislative districts, as well as districts for the Supreme Court and state Board of Education.

Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport, told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday he introduced House Bill 21 in hopes of unpacking House districts one through six, which he said all have nearly 70% white or Black voting age populations.

Glover said he used the same map as HB 14 but directed his staff to unpack districts one through six to more evenly distribute Black and white voters, even if it resulted in the elimination of his district, which the proposal did not.

“I think we elect better representation when we don’t have 70%-plus districts,” Glover said, noting he won election as mayor of Shreveport with a minority voting age population of about 53%.

“Studies have shown you don’t need 80% to be successful,” he said. “You can actually be successful with 60% or less.”

Republicans have argued that creating additional minority-majority districts could dilute the percentage of Black voters to the point it eliminates a true opportunity for minorities to elect a candidate of their choice, a requirement of the Voting Rights Act.

Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, told Glover he would consider supporting HB 21 as an amendment to HB 14 after consulting with members affected by the changes.

“I’d like to have a conversation with members impacted,” Magee said.

Committee Chair John Stefanski, R-Crowley, agreed HB 21 “could be accomplished in an amendment” to HB 14, and, ultimately, voted with the majority to defer Glover’s bill pending a debate on the House floor. Glover also introduced HB 21 as an amendment to HB 14 that’s expected to be considered Monday.

The developments Friday followed the House’s 70-33 vote Thursday to approve House Bill 1, sponsored by Schexnayder, to create new congressional districts. HB 1 would maintain the current number of minority-majority congressional districts at one, much like Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, which the Senate approved Tuesday.

The Senate’s approval of SB 5 came after Republicans blocked several other bills to add a second majority Black congressional district in the Senate and the Governmental Affairs Committee that Hewitt chairs.

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