Analysis: Louisiana to see repeat political debates in 2022 

A view from the balcony of the House of Representatives as they work during the 2014 Louisiana Legislative session. (File photo)

The new year will bring a rerun of several political debates in Louisiana, while also adding the once-a-decade battle over redistricting and an expected uptick in heated rhetoric as officials ready for the next statewide election cycle.

Debates over how issues of race can be taught in schools, how to replace the state’s voting system and how to spend an influx of federal and state cash are expected to return to the halls of the Louisiana Capitol.

Lawmakers will hold a special session to redraw the state’s political maps and plan a deep dive in the regular session about insurance problems that keep arising as people try to recover from the 2020 and 2021 hurricanes. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republicans will resume fights over the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

And the debates will be heavily influenced by political ambitions as statewide elected officials and lawmakers begin to jockey for reelection bids or new jobs. The 2023 statewide elections, with an open governor’s seat, could represent a significant reshuffling of state government’s top positions.

Here are some issues to watch in 2022 at the Louisiana Capitol:

  • Before they gather for their wide-ranging regular session, lawmakers will meet in a February special session to redesign the maps for seats in the U.S. House, state Senate, state House, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Service Commission and possibly the Louisiana Supreme Court. 
  • During the regular session that starts in March, some Republicans plan to renew an effort to put parameters on classroom discussions about race in America. They’re trying to ban the teaching of anything considered “critical race theory,” an examination of the ways in which race and racism have influenced politics, culture, government systems and laws. 
  • Clashes will continue between conservative Republicans and Edwards over how to deal with the COVID-19 illness as the omicron variant causes another surge of the outbreak. Vaccine mandates and mask-wearing will be in the crosshairs.
  • Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will try again to update Louisiana’s voting system, but this time the work will be guided by a new commission that will help choose the technology.
  • Lawmakers in their regular legislative session will decide how to use $1.4 billion in unspent federal pandemic aid, along with a $699 million state surplus.
  • Several legislators, Republican and Democrat, say they want to rewrite Louisiana’s insurance laws in the regular session.  

Read the full analysis from the Associated Press.