The bill, introduced by Lafayette State Senator Page Cortez, marks the start of the redistricting process here in Acadiana — and with a population shift from north Louisiana to the south-central part of the state, some districts have to be re-drawn to maintain equal representation.
Senate Bill 1 is the first proposal in the session to do just that.
The legislation re-draws lines for the state legislature — including changes for districts in Acadiana. Among them, Louisiana Senate District 22, which currently covers parts of Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, and St. Martin parishes.
District 22 state Sen. Fred Mills said he's heard from some in the agriculture industry who worry re-drawing it could affect their interests. Out of the 125,000 people living in the proposed Senate District 22, Mills told KATC 75 percent of that population would be Iberia - St. Martin.
"That was a huge concern for the folks in the area, they didn't want to be the minority representation in a district that they've historically, for the last 60 years, represented a majority, so that has been addressed," Mills said. "And for the average person, I guess if you're living in st martin or Iberia you're probably gonna be in senate district 22 unless you live in the fringes of that area then you may be in another district."
Mills noted, however, that while Acadiana is facing a population boom, legislators in the northern part of the state are facing the opposite issue and must try to mitigate it with their redistricting process.
KATC took this point to state Rep. Larry Bagley of District 7 to find out why that is.
"We just have to have more industry business and a lot of it is going to south Louisiana and south-central Louisiana, Lake Charles is one of them and they're blowing up on gas that they get off of my property," Rep. Bagley said. "There's some going out there right as we speak and they're making a lot of money out there and we're not — I mean we do alright because I get a check — but there's a lot of people out there that don't get anything."
Senate Bill 1, just one of the many proposals being considered during session, is up for public comment Thursday morning at the State Capitol.
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