Apr 8, 2011 11:39 PM by Maddie Garrett

Redistricting Could Mean Splitting Up Acadiana

It's a widely shared opinion - north and south Louisiana are practically two different states. But some politicians, including Governor Bobby Jindal, are pushing to put northern and southern parishes in the same congressional districts.

After the 2010 Census Louisiana lost a congressional district, and must now consolidate from seven districts to six. Add the population shift with more people moving to south Louisiana, and you've got almost a lose-lose situation when it comes to redistricting.

"There will be compromises, there will be battles, and at the end of the day it will be a "not-too-bad lose," "not-too-bad-loose," but not a win-win situation," said Senator Elbert Guillory (D-Opelousas).

Currently there are three main plans being talked about in the State House and Senate:

-Jackson Plan, Senate Bill No. 3; which divides the state horizontally, with Monroe and Shreveport in the same district.

-Riser Plan, Senate Bill No. 24; which keeps the traditional vertical districts, but cuts further into the south, adding some southern parishes in with central and northern Louisiana.

-Ponti Plan, House Bill No. 6, which also vertical districts that split Jeff Davis and St. Landry Parishes.

"Again trying to keep that I-10 corridor in tact and my line in the Jeff Davis split is north of I-10," said Rep. Erich Ponti (R-Baton Rouge).

Governor Jindal has said he will veto any plan that doesn't have the vertical districts. But Acadiana legislators disagree with that plan.

"It sounds like the people of north Louisiana want a horizontal plan," said Rep. Jack Montoucet (D-Crowley).

The argument is moving southern parishes in with the north and including them with cities like Shreveport doesn't make sense.

"I mean we don't share an economy, we don't share hurricanes, we don't share coastal activity," said Senator Dan Morrish (R-Jennings).

Still, Ponti's and Riser's plans will move forward for a possible vote next week.

"I don't care about the horizontal versus the vertical as long as Acadiana, as long as cajun Louisiana remains one solid entity," said Guillory.

The special session that was called to redraw district lines ends on Wednesday. But, if lawmakers haven't made a decision by then, they can simply re-group and make a decision in the regular session because there isn't a congressional election until 2012.



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