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|Katz amendment removes north Monroe from Jones district|
Voters in Monroe's Garden District, along Park Avenue and elsewhere in north Monroe may not be redistricted into state Rep. Rosalind Jones's district.
That's what will take place now if an amendment reintroduced Thursday by state Rep. Kay Katz survives the legislative process in the special session on redistricting, which got under way Sunday at the capitol in Baton Rouge.
Earlier this week, Katz offered an amendment to House Speaker Jim Tucker's redistricting plan to move the precincts on Monroe's north side from Jones's district into House District 14, which is currently held by Rep. Sam Little, R-Bastrop. Katz's amendment failed.
"What Rep. Jones and I have been working on, she originally had gotten all of north Monroe in District 17," said Katz, R-Monroe. "In this plan (Katz's amendment), she will increase her numbers in West Monroe and we will swap for the Monroe precincts into District 14."
Katz reintroduced the amendment in question at a committee meeting late Thursday in Baton Rouge where state lawmakers are meeting in a special session on redistricting. The special session got under way Sunday and must conclude no later than April 13.
The House and Governmental Affairs Committee adjourned before any votes could be taken on Katz's amendment. Early this morning (Friday), Katz said she expected her amendment to be entertained when the committee reconvenes Friday morning.
Under the terms of the Katz amendment, District 14, or Little's district, would take in north Monroe precincts, or an area that's commonly referred to as the upper north side.
The current redistricting proposal advocated by House Speaker Jim Tucker would place the north side precincts in District 17, or Jones' district, dividing what is viewed as a powerful voting district between two different legislators.
Katz said her amendment would avoid dividing the district, which Katz said was important to maintaining adequate representation for the city of Monroe in the Legislature.
Katz noted the importance of the amendment was highlighted by its support.
"We have all three of the major Ouachita representatives supporting this amendment," said Katz.
When Katz reintroduced her amendment Thursday, she was joined at the table by Jones and by state Rep. Frank Hoffmann. Katz added that Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo also supports her efforts to place the north side Monroe in Little's district.
If Katz's amendment survives, Jones's district would jump the Ouachita River and take in several precincts in western Ouachita Parish.
The move will mean Katz's existing representative district will remain largely in tact, while greatly expanding to the north, past Bastrop in Morehouse Parish.
Katz noted the possibility that new challengers for incumbents such as Little and Jones could arise from this move. However, she said her motives are not driven by the next election cycle.
"I am not pushing this, looking at the next campaign or who can run," said Katz. "I want this because it is what is best for my community."
Little was the sole objection to Katz's amendment when it was reintroduced Thursday.
The plan also does not impact a proposed new minority district stretching south and east from the area surrounding the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Katz said that was an important point because it maintains all ratios and does not significantly impact the makeup of the area's representation in Baton Rouge.
"Monroe will still be represented by three legislators," Katz said.