LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Our neighbors in Texas are expected to get four new seats, but there seems to be no doubt that Louisiana will lose a representative seat in Congress once new district lines are drawn. Local business leaders want to make sure Southwest Louisiana doesn't suffer as a result.
Southwest Louisiana is now part of the 7th Congressional District represented by Charles Boustany which includes Lake Charles and Lafayette. But those who have been looking at the numbers say Louisiana will lose a district due to population shifts. The Chamber SWLA heard from State Representative Rick Gallot who chairs the House Governmental Affairs Committee. There's concern Southwest Louisiana could wind up with a congressional district that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arkansas line. And no one here thinks that's a good idea.
State Representative Mike Danahay says it will be important for Southwest Louisiana to make its voice heard. "Southwest Louisiana, our communities of interest are much more aligned to those along the I-10 corridor. It is not aligned to those that are in say Shreveport. We are talking about coastal preservation, hurricane protection, agricultural. It could be transportation. It could be ports. It could be various things that we are very familiar with in Southwest Louisiana but they may not be as familiar with in Shreveport."
The reason for redistricting is so that elected officials represent roughly the same number of people in Congress. Gallot says the joint legislative committee will be in Lake Charles February 22nd. "It's important when we come back to your area that you come to our meeting and express your thoughts. Now if you want to be in the Shreveport district, let's hear that and this is not the first time I've been here to Lake Charles. I've never heard that," he said which brought laughter from local business people there.
Numbers from the census will also be used to make sure other offices including State Legislature and Police Jury lines are fairly drawn as well. And those changes must come in time for elections next fall.