Lawmakers began debating the first of what will be many maps on reapportionment just days ago as they attempt to reach a target number of around 119,000 voters for each of the state’s 39 Senatorial Districts.
Speaking with the Natchitoches Times Thursday morning, State Senator Louie Bernard of Natchitoches said it appears that the core of the 31st Senatorial District will remain as is. “The nucleus of our district, Natchitoches, Sabine, Red River and Winn, looks to be intact.” The district also includes a small part in Grant and Rapides parishes.
Currently, Bernard’s district includes all or parts of six parishes.
Bernard added that because of the large loss of population in North Louisiana, they are having to do a lot of tweaking on the numbers. He said there is one Senator having to find around 42,000 residents.
Bernard said with the population loss in Rapides Parish, he will have to include voters north and west of Natchitoches to get him within the plus or minus five percent of the 119, 000 target.
He believes his district could include voters from as many as 10 parishes in Northwest Louisiana. Because of term limits, he indicated he could pick up some of DeSoto Parish as well as some on the southern tip of Caddo and Bossier parishes.
The Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee is hearing the various reapportionment plans.
Bernard said there seems to be a consensus that no matter what plan they eventually come up with they will be sued by one group or another.
“No matter if we present a plan by Jesus or a plan by Satan, we’re going to be sued,” he added.
The plans are also subject to a gubernatorial veto.
The reapportionment session runs until Sunday, Feb. 20.
In addition to drawing boundaries for the Senate and House of Representatives districts, they’ll also approve district lines for Louisiana’s US Congressional districts, US Senate Districts, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Public Service Commission and Louisiana Supreme Court.
There is some urgency to get reapportionment done quickly because there are six Congressional District seats that are on the ballot this fall. Any challenges to the plan could affect those elections.
Senate and House members will next be up for election in 2023.