Published: Feb. 9, 2022
By: Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship News Service
BATON ROUGE – The state Senate on Tuesday advanced a Republican plan to keep only one of the state’s six congressional districts with a majority of Black voters despite complaints from Democrats that there should be two.
Tensions were high on the floor as lawmakers debated how to redraw the maps for congressional and state Senate districts to reflect population changes in the 2020 Census
The GOP bill, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, passed 27-12, with all Republican senators supporting it and all Democrats opposing it.
The Senate also rejected, in another party-line vote, an amendment by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, that would have changed the maps to allow for two majority Black districts.
Fields said only five Black people who have been elected to Congress from Louisiana since reconstruction.
“Louisiana has elected more white congressman in one year that it has elected black congressmen in history,” he said.
Hewitt said it was possible that Fields’ plan could backfire and provide less minority representation, as both of Fields’ proposed majority Black districts had voting age populations around 52%. Her argument was that low Black turnout in those elections could enable white candidates to win.
Fields disagreed, saying the federal Voting Rights Act requires giving Black residents a chance to elect two minority representatives.
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