The Senate approved a Baton Rouge City Court redistricting plan Monday.
But it’s unclear whether the plan will gain final approval as a split continues in the Baton Rouge delegation over the court’s racial makeup.
And the lead sponsor of the remap of the five-member court is not on board with the altered plan.
“Right now, I’m going to pray on it tonight,” Rep. Alfred Williams said after the vote. The Baton Rouge Democrat said he is inclined to reject the changes and see if a compromise can be worked out before Thursday’s session end.
The city of Baton Rouge is now majority-black, and some lawmakers, as well as a 2012 federal civil rights lawsuit, argue that the now majority-white court needs changing.
The Senate voted 37-1 for a plan with two majority-white districts, two majority-black districts and a fifth at-large, citywide district.
Black lawmakers pushed a plan realigning election districts to presumably result in a majority-black City Court — three out of five judges. The House had approved the plan, contained in House Bill 76, as did a Senate committee.
The Senate rebuffed that plan last week as it altered House Bill 76 in favor of the two-two-one plan advanced by Republican state Sen. Dan Claitor, who represents a majority-white south Baton Rouge district.
Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Broome on Monday tried to strip Claitor’s change and return to the House-passed majority-black court plan.
“This bill merely adjusts to the demographic shift that has taken place in our city,” said Broome, a Democrat who represents a majority-black district.
She said the change is also timely, with one of the white judges retiring.
Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb said that 23 years ago, the Legislature adopted a Baton Rouge City Court plan based on the city’s population back then. “We voted just like the population,” Dorsey-Colomb said. “Today, we have a chance to say we have moved past race and do what is right and fair and just.”
Senators rejected the change on a 19-19 vote.
Then Broome, who was handling HB76, asked her colleagues to vote for the bill.
Now it’s up to HB76 sponsor Williams whether to concur in the Senate overhaul of his bill, seek a compromise or let it die for the third legislative session in a row.