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Ouachita Parish reunited

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Written by : Greg Hilburn
ghilburn@thenewsstar.com 

 

Ouachita Parish will remain the hub of a northeastern Louisiana congressional district in a map approved during the final hours of the Louisiana Legislature’s special session on redistricting Wednesday.

Sen. Neil Riser amended House Bill 6 in the Senate to restore the northeastern Louisiana district and make Ouachita Parish whole after a previous version had split the parish into two congressional districts. The House concurred just after 3 p.m., less than three hours before the session had to end by law.

Had the Legislature not approved a map, it would have been back to the drawing board in a future session.

“I can’t believe it; I’m so tired I can barely talk,” said Riser, R-Columbia. “Our entire region should be pleased. We kept Ouachita Parish and Rapides Parish whole, and this map provides the best overall representation for the entire state.”

Riser’s map, which restored most of House Bill 6 author Rep. Erich Ponti’s original plan, created two vertical northern Louisiana districts anchored by Ouachita Parish in the east and Shreveport in the West.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, a consistent proponent of two vertical northern Louisiana districts, said he will sign the bill into law.

The Legislature had to reduce Louisiana’s congressional districts from seven to six because of slow population growth.

Ouachita and the Delta parishes will remain together in the new 5th Congressional District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman. The district will run vertically from the Arkansas state line before turning east at the top of the Louisiana boot and taking in East and West Feliciana, St. Helena, the northern part of Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. One casualty of the current 5th District is Union Parish, which will join the 4th District.

“We’re absolutely pleased,” Alexander said. “It keeps most of the 5th District intact. These are all our people, and we’re excited about the additions and the chance to represent them.”

Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, who was criticized by some colleagues and local business leaders when he cast the deciding vote to send Ponti’s bill to the Senate floor with the amendment that split Ouachita Parish, felt redeemed after the final vote.

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Written by demon53

April 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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