Rep. Duplessis talks priorities, takes questions on homelessness at Lower Garden District Association meeting

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By Sharon Lurye, Uptown Messenger

District 93 Rep. Royce Duplessis at the Lower Garden District Association meeting on Monday. (Sharon Lurye)

State Rep. Royce Duplessis, who represents House District 93, visited the Lower Garden District Association meeting on Monday for a question-and-answer session. District 93 includes parts of the Lower Garden District and Central City, where he lives.

The election ended on Saturday for the voters, but it’s only just begun for legislators, who are now all vying for key committee positions. Duplessis said he’s working toward a spot on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Duplessis took Helena Moreno’s legislative seat in May 2018 after emerging victorious from a special primary election to replace Morena, who had been elected to her City Council at-large position. He gained 72 percent of the vote against three challengers in March 2018.

He told the group his priorities for the next legislative term will include water management, “fighting for a pay raise for our teachers,” early childhood education and raising wages.

He introduced bill in the last session, which didn’t get out of committee, to give municipalities the right to raise their local minimum wage. “I knew it was a long-shot bill, but it was worth fighting for,” Duplessis said.

The representative spent some time fielding questions about the section of the Interstate 10 overpass that cuts his district, which includes the Warehouse District and CBD, into two halves.

Lower Garden District Association president Ryan Kropog asked if there could be some project, like a bike path or just better lighting, that would make the overpass safer and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

“I would love to get involved in that … it’s not super expensive, and if it’s a regulatory issue in terms of getting approval from the agencies, I can lend my efforts to that as well,” Duplessis said.

Mentions of the overpass led to a passionate discussion about how to address the issue of the large homeless population living under it.

One man asked whether Louisiana could adopt laws similar to the ordinances passed in Austin, Texas, that made public camping illegal. (The city later revised the law to make it less harsh after a public outcry, the Austin American-Statesman reported.)

Duplessis said he would research the Texas law more, but that “the larger context is around mental health and addiction.”

Reporter Sharon Luyre can be reached at sharonrlurye@gmail.com.

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