Three Bills with Major Impact on City, Parish

Three Bills with Major Impact on City, Parish

The Louisiana Legislature is considering several bills that could have a major effect on local government and the courts in East Baton Rouge Parish.  Three of them are HB 1151, which would elect City Court judges citywide; HB 1178 which would reduce the EBR school board to seven members, and HB 1212 to vote on incorporation parishwide.

 HB 1151 Would Change Racial Mix of City Court Judgeships-  At present, five Baton Rouge City Court judges are elected from two sub-districts.  One sub-district is heavily black and elects two black City Judges.  The other is narrowly white and elects three white judges. HB151 by Rep. Erich Ponti would have all five elected citywide, where black voters outnumber whites 71,000 to 57,000.  A bill by Rep. Alfred Williams would have continued the election by sub-districts with three judges elected from a black district and two from a white district.  Ponti’s bill has passed House.  Williams’ bill died in committee.

HB 1178 Would Reapportion E. Baton Rouge School Board-  At present, voters in EBR school district (excludes Baker, Central, and Zachary) elect 11 school board members from 11 single-member districts.  Because EBR is narrowly white, six districts are majority white and elect six white Republicans.  The five majority black districts elect five black Democrats.  HB 1178 would have six members elected from six single member districts and one at-large. The districts are likely to split with three black/three white districts.  The at-large seat with 376,000 voters will be elected by a constituency that voted for Obama 55-42.

HB 1212 Parishwide Vote on Incorporation of New Cities- Historically, under present law, when residents of an unincorporated area desire to form a new city, they must gather petitions signed by 25 percent of the registered voters in the proposed city.  The governor then calls an election among the voters in the proposed city, who decide whether to incoporate.  HB 1212 provides that the vote on incorporation would be held parishwide.  This law would apply to the proposed City of St. George which is overwhelmingly conservative and Republican, while EBRParish voted for Obama by a 10,000-vote margin.


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