BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus spoke at the Louisiana State Capitol on Wednesday following the first day of the special session.
“Just a reminder of what we are fighting for — 31.2 percent of Louisiana voting age population that is Black but Black voters only control 17% of Louisiana congressional districts, and that was a source that was taken from The Advocate,” said LLBC Chairman Rep. Vincent J. Pierre. “We are here behind some manufactured concerns. The main argument of the majority is that they don’t have enough time. Somehow time was found last year to come back for a veto session to get certain priorities passed. So we know that when it’s something that’s considered important to them, they find time to hear and pass legislation. And if it’s against some people’s agenda, we find time to kill it. No further discussions. Let’s get these maps done.”
On Wednesday, June 15, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder released a statement at the beginning of the special session:
“Good afternoon Members and thank you all for being back here so unexpectedly and so soon after we completed our very successful Regular Session.
As I’ve said, this Special Session is premature and unnecessary until the legal process has played out in the court system. But, based on a federal judge and a call into this Special Session by the Governor, here we are.
We are grateful for the hard work of our Governmental Affairs Committees during this year. They traveled the entire state and held meetings after work hours so that the public could participate as much as possible in the process.
They even allowed those meetings to go long into the night in order that everyone who wanted to, could be heard. Those committees did everything they could to make sure the process was fair, transparent, and open to all the citizens of this state.
Members, the maps we passed after all that hard work are fair and constitutional. It concerns me that we are now being asked to redo in just 5 days, something that was passed by over 2/3 of both bodies after a very long year of work.
But, we are here and will do our best, as we always do, over these next few days to make sure voices are heard as this process continues to play out. I respect the legal process and know how complicated redistricting law is. I view this Special Session as one continuing step in this long process.
I am going to ask you to support suspending the rules today to allow us to refer the bills to committee that will be introduced in a few minutes so that H&GA can begin its committee work Friday to hear whatever bills are filed today, that will give all of you and the public time to review the bills.”House Speaker Clay Schexnayder
The special session was called by Governor John Bel Edwards on June 7 after the Middle District of Louisiana ruled that the congressional district maps violated the Voting Rights Act. The legislature must redraw the maps with two majority Black districts during the special session.
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez released a joint statement days ahead of the first day of the special session calling the session a “waste of taxpayer money,” and called on the governor to cancel it.
On June 12, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the redistricting session would move forward, ordering that to redraw the map by June 20.
Two days later, Schexnayder and Cortez requested a federal judge for more time to draw congressional maps. They requested an extension to at least June 30. Requests will be heard on the morning of Thursday, June 16.