Committee votes down redistricting plan

Sen. Elbert Guillory says his map divides state fairly

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 5:16pm

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — A new redistricting plan was under fire Monday with less than two weeks until the end of the special legislative session. One senator says his map divides up the state more fairly than the plan approved by the majority of the Louisiana Senate.

It was a setback for Senator Elbert Guillory after the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee shot down his plan for redistricting the state.

"The forces that wanted this bill not to be heard were out in force and they did a good job," says Guillory.

The decision to involuntarily defer his bill was no surprise for the Opelousas senator. He's had trouble just getting the bill in front of a committee. "We presented this, introduced this on the third day of this special session and getting it to this point has been a horrendous task."

Guillory's plan calls for 12, instead of the current 10, minority districts and getting rid of two districts in New Orleans. That's different from Senate Bill 1, which passed 27 to 12 in the Senate last Tuesday.

"His plan splits 40 parishes. Our plan splits 34 parishes," explains Guillory.

Monday, Senators expressed concern about the size of some of the districts drawn out in Guillory's plan, saying that they were spread too far.

"I didn't think anybody could have done a worse job than the president on this district, but I think you may have topped him," said District 39 senator Lydia Jackson.

Others said Guillory's plan put too much emphasis on race. "That looks like patented racial gerrymandering to me," said Senator Dan Claitor during the hearing.

Guillory says his only goal is to make sure every person in the state is fairly represented. "We weren't going to be concerned about Democrats. We weren't going to be concerned about Republicans. We weren't going to be concerned about possible candidates and we certainly weren't going to be concerned with the incumbents," says Guillory. "Fair to everyone is what we tried to accomplish."

While his bill didn't make it out of committee today, Guillory says his fight is far from over. "I'm not going to go away. This is too important for the people of Louisiana."

Guillory's bill is supported by the Louisiana Family Forum. To see the full plan, check out[1].pdf


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