U.S. Census count means ‘the future is in our hands’

Census hearing in Alexandria, LA Photo by Bill Sumrall

By Bill Sumrall
The Light

One of nine regional meetings on the 2010 U.S. Census and how it affects reapportionment statewide was held Monday in Alexandria.

“We’re trying to raise awareness across the state about the Census, which will begin April 1,” said Rep. Rick Gallot.

Gallot chairs the committee on House and Governmental Affairs of the Louisiana House of Representatives, which sponsors the meetings.

“It is important that every person in our state be counted, and we want to do our part to make sure that everyone is in fact aware that the Census is fast approaching and that everyone is involved in this counting,” Gallot said.

About 35 people, including several past and present elected officials, attended the public educational presentation Jan. 11 in Alexandria on the 2010 Census and 2011 Redistricting process.

Reps. Herbert Dixon and Chris Roy and former House Speaker Charlie DeWitt were there as well as Rapides Parish School Board member Janet Dixon.

The presentation held in the Gladys Higdon Instructional Resource Center at 502 Beauregard St. in Alexandria lasted  a little more than two hours.

The hearing was streamed live via the House’s Internet site and is archived for future reference, accessible at http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Redistricting2011.

Gallot said that the event was educational and informational in nature to discuss the Census and redistricting principles, not a meeting to discuss redistricting plans or proposals.

“We will conduct another round of statewide meetings after the Census is conducted and we receive the Census results. We’ll do that approximately in March of 2011,” Gallot said.

Census representatives Lacey Loftin and Gabriel Sanchez presented Power Point slides outlining the 2010 Census, followed by a presentation on the 2011 Redistricting process and the law by attorney Mark Mahaffey, Legislative analyst Patricia Lowrey-Dufour and House Clerk Alfred W. “Butch” Speer.

Census numbers are the key to distribution of federal funds, officials said.

“It’s estimated that for every person that is uncounted in the Census, it costs Louisiana over $1,300 per year, so that would be $13,000 in a 10-year period,” Lowrey-Dufour said.

“It’s not an exact science, it really depends on the federal programs that use the Census for the allocation of those fund dollars as well as any grants that also count on Census data for that fund allocation,” Lowrey-Dufour said.

Officials noted that, according to Census projections, the state of Louisiana could lose one Congressional seat due to the lack of population growth over the past decade.

For more information about temporary jobs available for Census canvassing, call (866) 861-2010 and for more information about the Census, go online to http://www.2010census.gov.

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