January 28, 2008
The experiences of other state legislatures were helpful to the Special Committee on Term Limits that met during the previous term, so three key legislative leaders from Texas, Tennessee, and Illinois joined committee staff experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the House committee staff in this training session.
Kim McMillan, former House Majority Leader from Tennessee, Steve Rauschenberger, former Senate Republican Leader from Illinois, and Senator Jeff Wentworth from Texas shared strategies for committee planning and preparation, running a fair and productive hearing, norms of behavior for chairs and vice chairs, and the committee's role in developing legislation and making the process open to the public. Tim Storey from NCSL facilitated the presentations and conducted a discussion of what qualities make a good committee chair. Experienced House committee staffers outlined the rules governing committee business in the Louisiana House, emphasizing public notice of hearings, key points of parliamentary procedure applicable to committees, voting in committees, and procedural rules and practices specific to chairing a House committee.
Speaker Tucker directed the leadership team to hold organizational and briefing meetings of their committees during the February special legislative session, so that committee members will become familiar with committee procedure and their subject matter jurisdiction as they go into their first year of sessions.
January 19, 2008
The three hour morning session was peppered with questions from Representatives trying to understand the breadth and scope of the Code. Members learned about restrictions on their private income, limits on assisting others in dealing with government, and prohibitions against their aiding themselves, their families, or businesses in dealing with the state. Members also learned about prohibitions against their having contracts with the state or its agencies.
The afternoon brought the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Administrator and Deputy General Counsel of the Board of Ethics to the chamber to present on the make-up, functions, and operations of the Board. This session also saw lively discourse between Representatives and the Board.
The Ethics Briefing was roundly described as “eye-opening” by Representatives and many thanked Speaker Tucker for giving them the opportunity to understand Louisiana’s Ethics Code before they embarked upon the announced February special session on ethics reform.
January 17, 2008
House Speaker Jim Tucker completed his appointments to House Standing Committees late yesterday. Members were notified by letter of their appointments before adjournment of the Organizational Session.
For a complete list of committee assignments, please visit this House site
January 15, 2008
By Kathleen Randall
Speaker Jim Tucker launched the House into the era of legislative term limits by holding an unprecedented extended organizational session of the House in order to consider key procedural changes sparked by a year-long study of the effects of term limits. The session also included a comprehensive briefing for representatives on current Louisiana law on ethics for public servants, a subject which Governor Bobby Jindal promises to call his first special session to address. Only one day after legislators and the governor were sworn into office and legislative leaders were elected by their peers on January 14 , Speaker Tucker introduced a proposal, House Resolution No. 1, to change the Rules of Order of the House in three key areas.
Speaker Tucker said that many other legislatures have Appropriations Committee membership made up of a quarter or more of the House membership, thereby giving budget review responsibilities to more members. He proposed increasing the membership of the House Appropriations Committee from 19 members to 25 members and creating six standing subcommittees of the committee to specialize in separate areas of the state's budget. The Speaker would appoint the additional six members and by virtue of his current and new appointive power, ensure that seven of his appointments would represent the respective congressional districts. The six subcommittees would be Education, General Government, Health and Human Services (including review of the budgets for delivery of health care services in the state), Business Development, Infrastructure and Resources, and Public Safety and Corrections. Tucker said he offers this proposal in the spirit of developing a more educated membership, who, given responsibility for different state budget units, could develop more awareness of budget issues. He cited a particular commitment to making it easier to develop business across the state as the rationale for the Business Development subcommittee. He said these changes would bring transparency to the budget process as well as increase the effectiveness of the House in performing duties of the legislative branch of state government. The Chair of the Appropriations Committee would appoint the subcommittee chairs and members as well as set the meeting schedules; the chair could also refer other budgets and appropriations to the subcommittees for review. Speaker Tucker envisions that the subcommittees would perform intense reviews of their respective budget areas and subsequently report their findings and recommendations to the full Appropriations Committee.
The next significant change proposed by Speaker Tucker was the consolidation of the House committees on Natural Resources and Environment, based on the rationale that the amount of legislation referred to the Environment Committee had waned in recent years and that those matters could be absorbed into a related committee's jurisdiction. The resulting new committee would be called the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment and would add to its jurisdiction the former subject matter jurisdiction of the Environment Committee, namely, environmental control and regulation generally; land pollution; pollution of air, water, and land and environmental control generally; air quality; hazardous waste regulation; solid waste regulation; and laws regulating clean water, drinking water, and ground water.
In a proposal affecting purely internal matters of the House, Speaker Tucker recommended that the current House Executive Committee be divided into three standing subcommittees of at least five members each: Affairs of the House, Litigation and Legal Issues, and Personnel. The Speaker would appoint all subcommittee chairs and members. The Personnel Subcommittee would take on the responsibilites of the current House Legislative Services Council to employ and supervise a research, drafting, and committee staff for the House. That council would be abolished. Speaker Tucker suggested that this change would repeal duplicate responsibilities and simplify and expedite administration of matters affecting the internal business of the House.
After review by the newly-appointed Committee on House and Governmental Affairs, the proposal was introduced in the House, debated, and finally adopted by a vote of 103 yeas and 0 nays.
January 14, 2008
by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
The House of Representatives convened its organizational session today at 10 a.m. with state Rep. Wayne Waddell, the most senior member of the body, presiding. After opening preliminaries and the judging of qualifications and elections, the 104 members took the oath of office and elected officers for the 2008-2012 term.
The first order of business following the administration of the oath of office, was the election of the clerk of the House. Alfred "Butch" Speer was nominated by Rep. Michael Jackson of Baton Rouge. The nomination was seconded by Rep. Kay Katz of Monroe. There being no other nominees for the office, Speer was deemed elected. His oath was administered by Major General Hunt Downer, former Speaker of the House.
Following the clerk's oath, Rep. Jane Smith of Bossier nominated Jim Tucker for the position of speaker of the House. The nomination was seconded by Rep. Cedric Richmond and Rep. Jeff Arnold both from New Orleans. There were no other nominees and Tucker was declared elected the 66th Speaker of the House and the first Republican speaker since Reconstruction. Former state Rep. and Judge Steve Windhorst administered the oath to Tucker.
The gavel was passed to Tucker by Waddell and he began his duties as speaker presiding over the next order of business, the election of the speaker pro tempore.
State Rep. Karen Carter Peterson was nominated by Rep. J. P. Morrell for this position. Her nomination was seconded by Rep. Don Trahan and Rep. Avon Honey. Peterson was elected without opposition. She is the 10th speaker pro tempore of the House. Her oath was administered by her father, Kenneth M. Carter.
At the conclusion of her speech, Speaker Tucker announced appointments to the House & Governmental Affairs Committee, and that the committee would meet at 10:00 am Tuesday to consider rules changes affecting House committees. Tucker explained to the membership these changes would be debated by the House on Tuesday afternoon and will allow him to finalize his appointments to all committees, including House & Governmental Affairs. The appointments made today include Rick Gallot, Chair; Mert Smiley, Vice Chair; and Reps. Barras, Connick, Cromer, Danahay, Ellington, Henry, Girod Jackson, Ligi, Carter Peterson, Pugh, Richard, and Jane Samith.
Rep. Don Trahan then moved that the House adjourn until Tuesday in order to attend the inauguration ceremonies of the Governor and the statewide elected officials on the front steps of the capitol.
A 19 canon salute and posting of the colors opened the ceremony. Mrs. Mickey Mangham performed the National Anthem with Army Sergeant Mike McNaughton leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Dr. Fred Lowery delivered the invocation. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain, Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon, Treasurer John Kennedy, Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell, and Secretary of State Jay Dardenne were administered the oath of office. Immediately following, the lieutenant governor was introduced, took the oath of office and delivered remarks . Governor Jindal, who was introduced by Congressman Jim McCrery, then received the oath of office and gave his inaugural address.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction by Pastor Jerry Dean, the singing of "God Bless America" by Deacon John and a military F-15 flyover and the retiring of the colors.
Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero administered the oath of office to all statewide elected officials. Pre-ceremony activities included music by the West Monroe High School Band, Livingston Parish Chorale, L'Angelus, David St. Romain, and the 156th Army Band. The Master of Ceremonies was Tim Brando.
January 13, 2008
House Speaker-designate Jim Tucker, a Republican, chose a mixture of returning and new representatives as the team to help him run the business of the House in the 2008-2012 term.
Announcing his choice for committee chair and vice chair positions, Rep. Tucker said he "looked first for experience and talent in determining selections. I was fortunate to have a wealth of talent to choose from for these chairmanships and vice chairmanships." Tucker also said he was pleased with the geographical, political, and racial balance of "this very talented team of leaders." Of the 16 chairpersons, eight are Republican, seven Democratic, and one Independent. Geographically, four chairpersons hail from north Louisiana, three from New Orleans, three from southwest Louisiana, two from Baton Rouge, and three from south Louisiana. The North Shore is also represented, with one chairperson.
One committee change was also made. The House Natural Resources Committee will assume the responsibilities and jurisdiction over the subject matter currently referred to the Environment Committee.
Chairing the budget-writing Appropriations Committee is Representative Jim Fannin, from Jonesboro. His first term, 2004-2008, saw him serve as chair of the Louisiana Legislative Rural Caucus and as chair of the House Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Public Works during 2007. Representative Eddie Lambert of Gonzales will serve as vice-chair; during his first term of 2004-2008, he served on the House committees on Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs; Natural Resources; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works.
To lead the Ways and Means Committee, Tucker appointed Representative Hunter Greene as chair and Representative Jane Smith as vice chair. Greene was elected in 2005 in a special election in Baton Rouge and served on the committees on House and Governmental Affairs; Judiciary; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works. Representative Smith is a third-term member from Bossier City, currently serves as chair of the Legislative Republican Delegation, and in her most recent term was a member of the committees on Criminal Justice and Ways and Means.
For the Commerce Committee, Representative Jeff Arnold will be chair and Representative Wayne Waddell will be vice chair. Representative Arnold, from Algiers, came to the House via a vacancy election in 2002, and has been a member of the committees on House and Governmental Affairs, Retirement, and Ways and Means and the Legislative Budgetary Control Council. Representative Waddell, elected in a special election in Shreveport in 1997, currently serves as vice chair of the Legislative Rural Caucus and has been a member of the
committees on Commerce, Health and Welfare, and the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay.
Representative Nita Hutter of Chalmette will chair the Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Public Works, with Representative Hollis Downs from Ruston as vice chair.
Representative Hutter will be in her third term, currently serves as chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus, and most recently did service on the committees on Health and Welfare; Transportation, Highways, and Public Works; and the Special Committee on Coastal Restoration and Flood Control. Representative Downs is starting his second term and most recently served as a member of the committees on Education; Agriculture; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works (for which he was vice chair).
The House Committee on Education will have Representative Don Trahan for chair and Representative Austin Badon as vice chair. Representative Trahan is starting his second term, representing part of Lafayette. Recently he was a member of the committees on Commerce, Education, and Retirement; and he currently serves as vice chair of the Acadiana Legislative Delegation. Representative Austin Badon, from New Orleans, began his legislative service in 2004 and served on the committees on Education, Labor, Ways and Means, and Capital Outlay.
Tucker designated Representative Tim Burns, from Mandeville, as chair of the Civil Law Committee and Representative Nick Lorusso of Metairie as vice chair. Representative Burns, elected in 2003, has served on the committees on Health and Welfare; Judiciary; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works as well as the Select Committee on Technology. Representative Lorusso was elected to fill a vacancy in 2007 and served on the Criminal Justice and Civil Law committees.
Representative Ernest Wooton will chair the Criminal Justice Committee, with Representative Damon Baldone serving as vice chair. Representative Wooton, from Belle Chasse, is serving his third term; in his previous term he was vice chair of the Environment Committee and served on the committees on Criminal Justice and the Special Committee on Coastal Restoration and Flood Control and the Homeland Security Committee. Representative Baldone was elected from Houma to a vacancy in 2001 and recently was vice chair of the Committee on Capital Outlay and a member of the Criminal Justice and Ways and Means committees.
Third term Representative Kay Katz, who is from Monroe, will chair the Health and Welfare Committee. In her previous term she was a member of the committees on Health and Welfare; Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works.
Metairie Representative John Labruzzo will serve as vice chair. Elected in 2003, he served as a member of the committees on Health and Welfare, Environment, and Judiciary.
The Committee on House and Governmental Affairs will be chaired by Representative
Rick Gallot of Ruston, and Representative Mert Smiley of St. Amant will be the vice chair. Representative Gallot was vice chair of House and Governmental Affairs in the 2004-2008 term, his second term, and also served on the committees on Judiciary and Civil Law. Having been elected in 2003, Representative Smiley served on House and Governmental Affairs as well as on Judiciary and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works.
Lake Charles Representative Chuck Kleckley was elected to fill a vacancy in 2005; he will chair the committee on Insurance. Representative Tom McVea of St. Francisville will be vice chair. Representative Kleckley served on the committees on Commerce, Insurance, and Retirement. Representative McVea has been serving since 2000 and recently served on the committees on Appropriations and Insurance.
For the newly-renamed Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, Tucker appointed Representative Gordon Dove as chair and Representative Karen St. Germain as vice chair. Representative Dove, elected from Houma in 2003, served on the committees on Natural Resources; Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works and the Special Committee on Coastal Restoration and Flood Control. Representative St. Germain, also elected in 2003, has served on the committees on Natural Resources; Agriculture; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works and the Special Committee on Coastal Restoration and Flood Control. She chairs the Democratic Caucus and is vice chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus.
Representative Andy Anders of Vidalia was elected to fill a vacancy in 2006. He will chair the committee on Agriculture, and Representative Harold Ritchie of Bogalusa will be vice chair.
Representative Anders served on the committees on Agriculture, Commerce, and Insurance. Representative Ritchie was elected in 2003 and served on the committees on Education; Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs; and Ways and Means, as well as the Capital Outlay Committee.
Representative Cedric Richmond, New Orleans, has been appointed chair of the Judiciary Committee. He was elected in 1999 and recently served on the committees on Insurance, Judiciary, and Ways and Means, as well as the Capital Outlay Committee. He also served as vice chair of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council. First-term Representative Neil Abramson, also of New Orleans, received the vice chair appointment.
Tucker appointed Baton Rouge Representative Avon Honey as chair of the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and appointed a fellow Baton Rougean, first-term Representative Erich Ponti, as vice chair. Representative Honey was elected to fill a vacancy in 2002 and recently served as vice chair of the Education Committee as well as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, the Capital Outlay Committee, and the House Executive Committee.
Representative J.P. Morrell, who was initially elected to fill a New Orleans vacancy in 2006, will chair the Municipal and Parochial Affairs Committee. Representative Regina Barrow, also first elected to fill a vacancy, in Baton Rouge in 2005, will be vice chair. Representative Morrell served on the committees on Civil Law, Insurance, and Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs. Representative Barrow served on the committees on Commerce, Education, and Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs.
The Committee on Retirement will have Lafayette Representative Joel Robideaux as chair and Minden Representative Jean Doerge as vice chair. Representative Robideaux filled a vacancy in 2004 and served on the committees on Retirement, Civil Law, and Natural Resources. Representative Doerge's House service began with a vacancy election in 1998; she recently has been a member of the committees on Retirement, Appropriations, Health and Welfare, and the House Executive Committee.
Representative Karen Carter Peterson, a Democrat from New Orleans who is starting her third term, is expected to be elected, unopposed, by her fellow members to the position of Speaker Pro Tempore on Inauguration Day, January 14. Tucker said he is supporting her bid for the position. "Karen has been an outstanding leader and will do a tremendous job as pro-tem," Tucker said. Representative Peterson served as chair of the House Committee on Insurance and as a member of the House Executive Committee in the 2004-2008 term.
Speaker-designate Tucker was elected to District 86 on the West Bank of Orleans and Jefferson parishes in a 2001 special election to fill a vacancy. During his second term, 2004-2008, he served as a member of the House committees on Insurance; Retirement; and Transportation, Highways, and Public Works and as House chair of the Republican Legislative Delegation. It's expected that the House will elect him as Speaker unanimously on Monday, January 14.
January 10, 2008
Inauguration of governor & statewide elected officials: Noon on the Capitol steps (weather permitting)
Also: Inauguration Day is a holiday for government employees in the city of Baton Rouge.
NOTE: The House will reconvene on Tuesday for two additional days to consider procedural changes and to receive a briefing on ethics.
At 10 a.m. Monday a new era begins for the Louisiana House of Representatives when the 69th Legislature since statehood convenes.
The House will be called to order by its senior ranking member, Representative Wayne Waddell, who was elected in 1997. Following the opening preliminaries and the judging of qualifications and elections of the members, 104 elected members will take the oath of office, one short of the 105 total members of the body. (Mike Powell, who was re-elected without opposition, resigned December 31, and that seat will remain open until filled by special election scheduled for February 9. Two people qualified to run for this seat, Thomas Carmody and Barrow Peacock. Both are Republicans.)
It is a diverse group of 104 members being sworn in, 53 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 Independents. Further, there are 91 males and 13 females (a decrease of 5 females); 83 white, 21 black, and 1 Hispanic in the class. This is a loss of 6 Democrats, a gain of 6 Republicans and a gain of 1 Independent. Fifty-nine members will begin their first term with no legislative experience, with the exception of one member -- Noble Ellington. Ellington served as a state representative for seven years, from 1988 until 1995, before being elected to the Senate, where he serves through the end of this term. This gives him the most legislative experience, 18 years. The returning 45 members all have less than 10 years of legislative experience. Prior to this term, there were four representatives with over 30 years of legislative experience. John Alario, the most senior member, ended his House career with 36 years. With the advent of term limits, we won't see this kind of experience in the near future.
On the other side of the aisle, the Senate has 18 new incoming senators. The difference is that 13 of these new members arrive directly from House service (one of those being Mr. Alario), one served in the House prior to the current term, and only four have no legislative or elective office experience.
Time will tell what the effect of term limits will be on this legislature and the legislatures of the future.
January 07, 2008
by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
Previously, the blog introduced three of the six newcomers elected to the House without opposition. This post introduces you to the other three members of the freshman class who were elected without opposition.
***Harvey Bernard LeBas (Bernard) will represent District 38. The district's current representative, Eric Lafleur, is running for the state Senate. A Democrat, Mr. LeBas is a pharmacist and has held no other public office. An active member of his community, he currently serves as president of the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Evangeline Bank & Trust Company. He serves as chairman of the Ville Platte Fire and Police Civil Service Board and the Public Housing Authority, as well as president of the Sacred Heart School Board. In 1995, he served on the Medicaid Advisory Panel, DHH Advisory Board and DHH Interdisciplinary Board.
He is also a member of the Sacred Heart Booster Club and the Louisiana Pharmacist Association, serving as chairperson of the group's Political Action Committee. He is the founder of the Cajun Area Pharmacist Association.
Awards include the 1999-2000 Pharmacist of the Year award, ULM Pharmacy Alumni Award and the Bishop's Service Award for the Diocese of Lafayette.
Mr. LeBas is a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University (ULM) and Sacred Heart High School. He and his wife, Charlotte, have five children and nine grandchildren. His hobbies include traveling, hunting, fishing and cooking.
***Republican John Patrick Connick from Jefferson Parish replaces N. J. Damico in District 84. A graduate of Loyola University Law School, Loyola University and Archbishop Shaw High School, he is a practicing attorney.
Patrick is a member of the Jefferson Parish Bar Association, the Immaculate Conception Men's Club, the Archbishop Shaw Alumni Association and the Hope Haven Madonna Manor board. He founded the Louisiana Crawfish Boil Championships in 2002.
He and wife Rhonda have three adult children. His hobbies are cooking, painting and travel.
***Girod Jackson III, a Democrat, will represent District 87. Mr. Jackson became the representative-elect after incumbent Terrell Harris and opponent Kent Smith withdrew from the race.
Mr. Jackson is a small business owner who served in the Army and Louisiana National Guard. He is a graduate of John Ehret High School and is married to Kenya Narcisse Jackson.