September 13, 2005

Something else that might change in Katrina's wake.

The hurricane has forced hundreds of thousands of people from New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and huge numbers of them have relocated [at least temporarily] to places like Baton Rouge and Houston. Now that the metaphorical dust has settled a bit, we're starting to hear talk of whether — and when — the boundaries of Gulf Coast legislative districts need to be re-drawn to reflect the geographic shift in population.

With Katrina having emptied out New Orleans and much of the surrounding parishes, hundreds of thousands of people who once voted in Louisiana's 1st, 2nd and 3rd Districts are no longer there. And many who never heard of Reps. Jim McCrery, Rodney Alexander and Richard Baker — Louisiana Republicans who represent the 4th, 5th and 6th Districts, respectively — are now camped out in those districts.

House members, their staffers and government officials in Baton Rouge and Washington say they're loathe to talk about politics when there are still bodies to be recovered, children to be reunited with their parents and schools and hospitals to be reopened.

But the reality is that less than 14 months before voters are scheduled to head to the polls, it's unclear which polls they'll be heading to — and how this will affect Louisiana's congressional balance of power as well as that of neighboring Alabama or Texas....

For now, no one wants to speculate about what a reconfigured congressional map in Louisiana might look like for fear of sounding crass or because most simply don't know who will be living where come 2006 or 2008, let alone 2010 or 2012.

But strong emotions are swirling around the interrelated questions of future congressional districts, the fate of New Orleans and who, exactly, will represent those former city residents if and when they come back.

We wouldn't be at all displeased if those largely Democratic New Orleans evacuees in Houston decided to vent their dissastisfaction with Dubya's administration on Texas Republicans.

Via The Hill.

Posted by Magpie at September 13, 2005 01:06 PM | Elections | Technorati links |

A very morbid topic, and one that Louisiana politicians don't want to address any time soon for sure.

As for Congress, the seats are apportioned between the states by the decennial census. The U.S. Constitution would prevent taking away a seat from Louisiana in Congress until after the 2010 census -- i.e. for the 2012 elections.

The Louisiana state legislature could conceivably re-apportion before the 2010 census and redraw congress and state legislature districts. Although there is a provision in the Louisiana constitution that seems to make legislature reapportionment something done based on the federal census. But it doesn't expressly prohibit changing boundaries before that time either.

There should be people in all the congress districts, but with considerable population shifts into or out of the district. But several state legislature districts -- particularly in New Orleans and in St Bernard Parish -- could be virtually depopulated.

I will bet at least 50-50 that the Louisiana legislature will punt the reapportionment football until sometime in 2011.

Posted by: Richard Pope at September 14, 2005 03:19 PM