New president of Legislative Black Caucus talks redistricting, relationship with Gov. Edwards

Legislative Black Caucus keys in on Redistricting
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 6:40 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Democratic state Rep. Vincent Pierre, of Lafeyette, spoke to reporters Monday, Feb. 7 at the Baton Rouge Press Club as the new president of the Legislative Black Caucus.

He pointed out what he calls disparities in the representation of minorities in the state legislature. He spoke about the possibility of litigation after the session and the caucus’s current relationship with Gov. John Bel Edwards.

In Louisiana, out of all the districts for U.S. Congress, only one is made up of a majority of black voters. On the state level, only 26 out of the 105 seats in the House and 10 of the 39 seats in the Senate are held by black lawmakers. Rep. Pierre told reporters more needs to be done to mirror the state’s minority representation.

“You can see the disparity...33% of the people of Louisiana are black and yet only 25% of House districts are represented by people who look like me,” said Rep. Pierre.

After a couple of hours of debate, Sen. Patrick Page Cortez's map for state Senate districts has been put off to give members a day to review the changes.

He says the representation should not stop with Congressional maps but also maps for the Senate, House, State Supreme Court, and Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

“While we go through this process, over the next 14 days, we need to remember that redistricting is about creating opportunity for people of Louisiana to be represented by candidates of their choice,” Rep. Pierre explained.

Echoes around the capitol suggest there is already preparation for lawsuits after the session if Democrats are not satisfied.

“There are several advocacy groups that have set some proposals and presented to us, but no information about litigation at this time,” Rep. Pierre continued.

But Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt says she believes the maps will meet the standards of state and federal law.

“I’m not representing the Republican party I’m representing the legislature and it’s my job to pass bills and develop bills that will stand up in a court of law and we’re confident we’re doing that,” said Sen. Hewitt.

On another topic, The Press Club also asked Pierre about the Black Caucus’s relationship with the governor, particularly after the governor’s recent meeting with them about the Ronald Greene case.

“The relationship is great with the governor, we’re very comfortable with the decisions that the governor has made based on the routine texts that he received, we’re real comfortable with that. We do know that there will be further investigation that will occur...we’re confident once the investigation is complete that justice will be served to the Greene family,” said Rep. Pierre.

Votes on both House and Senate maps are expected to take place tomorrow, but that will not happen until any map proposals make it out of committee.

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