MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — Thursday, June 23, 2022, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce hosted the Northeast Louisiana Legislative Delegation Update Luncheon at the Monroe Civic Center. Northeast Louisiana state senators and representatives came together to discuss the last session of bills signed into law and some still in progress.

District 14 State Representative Michael Echols attended the luncheon.

“We brought back tens, if not hundred of millions of dollars to northeast Louisiana,” Representative Echols said. “Over $50 million in cash and priority one level projects to Ouachita Parish.”

Representative Pat Moore, who represents District 17, spoke about Governor Edwards’ action on signing a bill to toughen the abortion ban.

“We are not God. We cannot make that decision who should live and who should die,” Representative Moore said. “It is tough because I have been told about a 9-year-old, 11-year-old pregnant, but what are we going to do if this bill that Senator Jackson… if it’s law, then of course we have more work to do so that we can protect and save our kids once they come in this world.”

Representative Echols also spoke about the latest bill related to the Swanson Youth Center.

“They’re trying to categorize prisons around the state for youth penal facilities. Monroe would be a level three because of its new fortification. I tried to amend the bill to prevent that when it’s so near a neighborhood,” Representative Echols said. “You have neighborhoods, a hospital and other facilities right beside that facility. So putting all the most dangerous children in one area I don’t think is very responsible. We’re going to have to work through the department of corrections to try to ensure that some of the things around that get fixed in the future. We’re not there yet, but we’re fighting for our citizens.”

Representatives Moore and Echols spoke about the latest proposed Louisiana Congressional Map, which would include a second minority district covering northeast Louisiana, including Monroe.

“The re-districting, Blacks, people like myself, we represent one-third of the population,” Representative Moore said. “So if that’s the case, then we need two Congressional Districts, and I’m in support of the two Congressional where they are. I just know we need them.”

Representative Echols provided information about the reason behind the redesign of the Louisiana Congressional Map.

“The challenge with going out and trying to create a second majority minority district, we would be not observing one of the key things we have to observe between the Voting Rights Act and the other rules that we have to follow,” Representative Echols said. “I think that’s been a challenge. I think the maps we drew were fair, based on the data and the Voting Rights Act and the other acts that we had to follow. I know that we overrode the governor on this. It should be the law now. It’s in the court systems now, we’re going to have to let the courts deal with it at this point.”

According to Representatives Moore and Echols, there were about 1,500 bills introduced in the sessions. However, even though some of the bills legislators passed were successful, the representatives said more work is required to continue to push northeast Louisiana forward in the state.