A nonprofit Louisiana policy research organization is calling for an independent commission to replace state lawmakers as the line-drawing authority when redistricting rolls around again in 10 years.

The Public Affairs Research Council has compiled a report on the 2011 redistricting process in Louisiana, making several key recommendations on how to raise transparency and “advance its traditional approach to redistricting.”

With hurricanes Katrina and Rita forcing population shifts in the state and a population loss that has cost the state a seat in the U.S. House, PAR says “the (redistricting) process is likely to be filled with clashes around issues of incumbency, race, regionalism and party politics.”

PAR’s report, as found on its website, include tips for both the current redistricting special session and the next redistricting process following the 2020 census:

-The Legislature should fully and publicly document the current redistricting process in anticipation of the 2020 redistricting cycle and accommodate broad public input.

-Amendments to redistricting bills should be posted in advance of votes to so that lawmakers and the public have time to review them. Proposed amendments should be accompanied by maps delineating the impact on all districts affected by the change.

-After the special session, the state should take decisive steps toward forming a new redistricting method that is not reliant on legislators drawing their own district maps. Ideally this would take the form of an independent commission overseeing redistricting of congressional and state legislative seats, though other systems should be considered. A new way of redistricting – implemented for the 2020 Census – should be debated, designed and approved in the near future, not later in the decade when incumbent pressures are likely to block real reform.

More recommendations on redistricting and a copy of the report from PAR can be found at its website.

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