Louisiana Power Coalition’s Peter Robins-Brown  

LaPolitics: For readers who are unfamiliar, tell us a little about the Power Coalition and its’ efforts. 

Peter Robins-Brown: “The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice is a statewide civic engagement table that works to shift power back to the people by fighting for policies that lift up Louisiana’s families. We also work with our coalition members to educate voters, increase voter engagement, and provide a support structure for community activism and voice.”

One of the big bills that the Coalition is working on local control. Why is this bill critical to your group’s efforts? 

As part of the Unleash Local coalition, we are supporting grassroots organizing across the state to educate voters about HB422, sponsored by Rep. Royce Duplessis. Currently, the state of Louisiana bans cities and parishes from setting many of their own local economic standards, including minimum wage and family and sick leave policies. This top-down, heavy handed approach goes against the best interests and stated values of most Louisianans. It also fails to account for the fact that we live in a diverse state, and imposes one standard on everyone, even though we all know that life and work differ from city to city, parish to parish, and region to region. HB422 would repeal that state ban. Ending this unnecessary government overreach, and giving freedom back to local communities so they can make their own decisions about worker protection policies, is the most effective measure we have for lifting people up out of poverty and creating a more equitable economic system in Louisiana. It gives power to local people so they can take back control of their local communities.

The coalition is also supporting HB504 by Rep. A.B. Franklin, a bill that tries to shed some light on the  redistricting process. What type of transparency are you looking for in redistricting? 

Redistricting, and gerrymandering in particular, have led to a lot of public distrust of government, especially over the past decade. We believe that shining a light on the process through some simple transparency measures is a good first step in rebuilding that trust. HB504 would establish a minimum of 10 public hearings on redistricting leading into the 2021 legislative session. This measure simply codifies a practice that Louisiana has traditionally undertaken, but that wasn’t explicitly written into law. The bill would also establish a non-binding study and advisory commission that will look at past Louisiana redistricting processes, best redistricting practices from other states, and any recently developed redistricting tools and resources. Finally, it would mandate a five-day waiting period between when the district maps are adopted in committee and when they go to a final floor vote, allowing a little extra time for the citizens of Louisiana to fully absorb the proposed changes.

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