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LA Lawmakers Override Governor Edwards' Redistricting Maps Veto

Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana held a press conference after both houses of the legislature voted to override his veto of the new voting redistricting map.
Courtesy: LA Governor's Facebook Page
Governor John Bel Edwards (D) of Louisiana held a press conference after both houses of the legislature voted to override his veto of the new voting redistricting map.

LA VOTING DISTRICT OVERRIDE— Both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature have voted mainly along party lines to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a congressional redistricting bill. That step Wednesday marked the first time in nearly three decades that lawmakers refused to accept a governor’s refusal of a bill they had passed. After the vote, Governor John Bel held a press conference and pointed out that Louisiana’s Congressional districts remapping comes down to simple math.

“We have six congressional districts and exactly one majority-minority district. When the population of our state is one-third African-American, and we know that it is; then simple math and simple fairness means that two of those districts need to be minority districts. That’s pretty easy to understand,” Edwards explained.

Edwards' vetoed the map passed during last month's redistricting Special Session because lawmakers failed to create a second majority-minority district out of six seats despite the state's Black population increasing to 33% over the past decade. Louisiana Republican Senator Sharon Hewitt who co-chaired one of the redistricting bill committees addressed the Senate and explained why lawmakers should override the governor’s veto.

Senator Sharon Hewitt (R) of Slidell, Louisiana
Courtesy: LA Senate Video Archive
Senator Sharon Hewitt (R) of Slidell, Louisiana

“You know on the one hand we had the voting rights act which says if you have a minority population of a sufficient size that’s geographically compact, it would perform as a minority district, you have to draw a minority district,” Hewitt said. "And then on the other side, we’ve got the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause that says you cannot use race as the predominant reason for drawing a district. So that’s the lane that we were given to navigate. And unfortunately, this is not something you can do based on emotion, we have to follow the federal and state laws.”

Wednesday’s override marks the third such time since the current state Constitution was enacted in 1973. The Republicans secured the two-thirds votes needed to override the Governor’s veto in both the House (72-31) and Senate (27-11) to close the deal. While the new map is now law, civil rights groups are expected to take this to court contending that the new map is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.