Baton Rouge, LA (KPEL News) - The first special session of the Louisiana Legislature for 2024 ended three days ahead of schedule, and new congressional map and closed primaries got the approval of lawmakers.

State law required that this special session end on Monday, January 23.


Speaker of the Louisiana House Phillip DeVillier of Eunice noted that changing from Louisiana's open or "jungle" primary to a closed primary sat at the top of the list of changes sought by Governor Jeff Landry:

In terms of closed primaries, it’s been a goal for many that gained traction under the leadership of Governor Landry and now was the time to act.

The closed primary system be in effect in 2026 for the state's federal elections, State Supreme Court justices, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Public Service Commission. The timeline is longer than Governor Landry would like.

The bill by Representative Julie Emerson of Carencro passed the Senate only because it was amended to allow unaffiliated voters to participate.

Concerns arose during the special session that a closed primary system without an allowance for voters who have no party affiliation would disenfranchise those voters. They will now be allowed to choose between either of the major parties' races. The amendment does note, however, that people registered with the Independent Party are excluded.


Louisiana Congressional Map
Courtesy LSU Manship School

The State of Louisiana had a deadline of January 30 set by a federal judge to redraw congressional maps so they abide by the Voting Rights Act. Had the Legislature failed to submit a revised map, the judge would have determined Louisiana's congressional districts herself.

The map supported by Governor Landry and presented by Senator Glen Womack of Harrisonburg passed both chambers, without the House Governmental Affairs committee amendment that would have divided East Baton Rouge Parish into three congressional districts. The House amendment by Representative Les Farnum of Sulphur sought to avoid splitting Calcasieu and Ouachita Parishes.

Representative Beau Beaullieu of New Iberia supported Womack's Senate bill which protects the Louisiana districts for the three sitting Republican members of Congress:

“I firmly submit that the congressional voting boundaries represented in this bill best achieve the goals of protecting Congresswoman Letlow’s seat, maintaining strong districts for Speaker Johnson and Majority Leader Scalise, ensuring four Republican districts and adhering to the command of the federal court in the Middle District of Louisiana.

The vote to approve in the House was 86-16. The bill passed the Senate 27-11.

Both bill head to Governor Jeff Landry's desk and won't be law until he signs them.

The Louisiana Legislature will reconvene for a second special session focusing on crime on Monday, February 19, 2024. The 2024 regular session is set to begin on March 11, 2024.

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