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Lawsuit expected in fight for parish-wide St. George vote

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BATON ROUGE - A state law proposal that would overhaul who votes in an election to determine if a new municipality should be created faces an uncertain future at the State Capitol.

The measure, which was essentially created to widen and garner nay votes throughout East Baton Rouge to turn down the creation of the City of St. George, was deferred by a legislative committee Thursday. Deferring a proposed law in a committee hearing can typically lead to the law never moving forward and being approved.

The proposal was being pushed by Senator Yvonne Colomb with the backing of East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. Broome championed the proposal in a statement Wednesday where she outlined a 20% cut to city-parish budgets in a contingency plan should the St. George effort be successful. 

“I wholeheartedly support this legislation. Each and every resident of East Baton Rouge Parish would be negatively affected by the breakaway and deserve an opportunity to weigh-in on the final decision,” the mayor said in the statement.

Currently, only people living within the St. George boundaries are set to vote. Colomb hoped to force a parish-wide vote when the election comes this fall.

Lawmakers did not make a decision on moving Colomb's proposal forward.

Mary Olive Pierson, an attorney who at one point worked on the city's behalf to fight St. George, said Thursday afternoon a lawsuit is imminent over the parish-wide voting argument. A spokesperson for the city of Baton Rouge said Pierson is a "private citizen" and not working on the government's behalf. Though, Pierson was hired by the Metro Council in 2015 to work for the city on issues related to St. George. 

St. George said it anticipated a lawsuit being filed and will fight any court filing.

Watch WBRZ News 2 starting at 4 for late-breaking details. Coverage continues at 5, 6 and 6:30.

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