[Update: The Louisiana Legislature's special redistricting session got under way Sunday afternoon. Get updated news through The Advocate, The Daily Advertiser and The Times-Picayune.]

State lawmakers gather Sunday at the Capitol for a special session that will redraw the districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Legislature, Louisiana Supreme Court, Public Service Commission, Board of Elementary & Secondary Education and appeals courts. They will have just more than three weeks; the session closes April 13.

The session is a required response to the 2010 census, and the New Orleans area will undoubtedly lose clout in Baton Rouge due to severe population declines resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Redrawing the seats for Congress — due to stagnant population growth between 2000 and 2010 Louisiana will lose one of its seven House seats — also promises to be a contentious affair. Although some lawmakers and public officials in southeast Louisiana have endorsed the concept of a single coastal district spanning from St. Bernard Parish to Cameron Parish, the momentum seems to be in favor of at least two districts with footprints on the coast. Depending on how these districts are drawn, it could pit Lafayette Republican Rep. Charles Boustany against freshman Republican Rep. Jeff Landry of New Iberia against one another next year.

This week Rep. Rick Gallot, a Ruston Democrat who chairs the House committee that will do much of the heavy lifting for redistricting, floated three congressional redistricting maps that include multiple coastal districts. A fourth map, from Napoleonville Republican Rep. Joe Harrison, features a single Interstate 20 corridor district spanning north Louisiana. Harrison’s map includes a single coastal district.

Read more about the redistricting plans here.

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