Lawmakers have long had the luxury of diving into redistricting sessions as lobbyists and major sat back and watched — usually from a distance.
That’s because outside of the rails, those who could influence life inside the rails considered the topic off limits and internal to the House and Senate. In recent history, leadership elections have been hands off for government relations pros as well, with a few exceptions here and there.
But that all could change this term, according to some in the know, such as Senate President John Alario. As part of last week’s LSU post-election forum, while speaking about the upcoming leadership elections, Alario said any diminishment of the role traditionally played by the governor could result in increased activity by special interests, donors and/or lobbyists.
“The opposite of having (Gov. John Bel Edwards) support someone is to have somebody being supported by some outside interests,” Alario said, adding that those interests would most likely be interested in disrupting the incumbent’s second term.
While there’s already money from special interests floating around the leadership ether, the upcoming redistricting process is attracting outside eyes as well. For example, the Louisiana-based Fair Districts, a “grass-roots, nonpartisan alliance of citizens advocating for redistricting reform,” is said to be firming up its operations and expanding ahead of the 2020 regular session.
Both mainline political parties are teeing up their maps and arguments as well, and in some corners even potential litigation strategies are being penned.
As for possible policy proposals for the 2020 regular session, we just need to look at other states. Advocates in Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia are currently pushing proposals to take mapmaking powers away from lawmakers and give them instead to nonpartisan commissions. If that happens, they’ll join 14 other states that already have such panels.