Louisiana keeping all Congressional seats

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2000

Louisiana officials were relieved to learn the state will not lose a U.S. Congressional seat this year based on 2000 Census figures released Thursday. In the last census in 1990, Louisiana lost a representative, dropping from eight to seven.

&uot;I am pleased that we still have (seven) congressional districts,&uot; said U.S. Rep. John Cooksey, R-La., said. &uot;That means all the people will have the same representation.&uot;

Prior to the release of the census results, Cooksey said he been concerned the state might lose another seat this year. &uot;Fortunately we made the cut,&uot; he said.

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The U.S. Census Bureau released the overall state numbers for the 2000 Census Thursday in line with federal deadlines concerning congressional reapportionment.

The population of Louisiana grew nearly six percent during the past 10 years from 4,219,973 to 4,468,976 but the gain was below the national increase of 13.7 percent or 281,421,906 as of April 1, 2000.

Concordia Parish Police Jury President Charlie Blaney said he had also worried Louisiana might lose a congressional seat this year and he was glad to hear otherwise. &uot;I was worried about the participation we had in (the census),&uot; Blaney said. &uot;Most people don’t realize how important the census is to us.&uot;

Louisiana Sen. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro, said he was not surprised Louisiana made the cut but along with Cooksey he worries for the future.

The rate of growth in Louisiana needs to increase or the state may not be so lucky during the 2010 census.

If the nation’s population continues to grow at 13 percent and Louisiana only grows at 6 percent, the state can expect to lose congressional seats in the future. Ellington said.

Losing congressional seats means less representation for Louisiana residents as districts increase in population.

&uot;It’s awfully hard to serve the constituents when (congressional districts get) so big,&uot; he said.

Reflecting on the state’s loss of a congressional district in 1990, Louisiana officials said they can sympathize with Mississippi neighbors who will lose a congressional seat this year based on census figures.

When Louisiana dropped from eight to seven congressional seats in 1990, the state went through a difficult period, Cooksey said. &uot;It will hurt you,&uot; Cooksey said. &uot;One of your incumbents will be squeezed out.&uot;

It took Louisiana a couple years to recover politically from the decrease, he said. &uot;We’ve overcome it,&uot; said Cooksey said, adding that four good Mississippi congressmen should be able to do as good a job as five good congressmen.

But the drop meant Louisiana &uot;went through a period were we really didn’t have any seniority in the delegation,&uot; Cooksey said.

And the federal court system finally had to intervene and straighten out two attempts by the Louisiana Legislature to redraw its own congressional district lines.

&uot;I hope that the Mississippi Legislature does not do something as bizarre as the Louisiana Legislature did,&uot; Cooksey said, referring to them as the &uot;Legislature from hell&uot; because of their creation of a gerrymandered district.

To increase growth in the future, Cooksey said Louisiana and Mississippi should move into the information age.

The two states need to grow in the &uot;new economy – the information economy,&uot; Cooksey said.

Ellington said he does not want Louisiana to become crowded but he agrees more growth is needed.

&uot;I would like to see Louisiana and Mississippi getting their share of the growth,&uot; he said. &uot;I would like for the people to get good jobs.&uot;