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Regional, partisan imbalance in the new Legislature?

As I mentioned previously, while it seems the ordinary citizenry couldn’t care less, the “political class” appears upset at the distribution of committee chairmen slots for the incoming Legislature. I was going to present an analysis of House picks by apparent new House Speaker Jim Tucker in addition to Senate picks as it was said he would release them today. Apparently he has not and I’ve held off this posting long enough, so I’ll just add them when I find out. Below then is an analysis only of the Senate selections made by presumed incoming president Joel Chaisson.

Perhaps most frequently expressed have been complaints about a lack of representation for North Louisiana. In the Senate, three of the 17 charimanships went to senators from north Louisiana (defined her as north of the Beauregard-Allen- Evangeline-St. Landry-Point Coupee boundaries lines), or 18 percent. Keep in mind that this part of the state has about 27 percent of the population, so any bias towards the southern part of the state is not that great. Also consider that in the Senate, of the 11 districts (29 to 39) that could be declared “northern” in geography, only five featured returnees to the chamber (plus a couple of transfers from the House and a previous house member) of which three of these – Adley, Sherri Smith Cheek, and Lydia Jackson – are among the most junior incumbents and are at odds with much of Jindal’s agenda which reduced the pool of potential chairmen.

The other major complaints have been about partisan distribution, a surrogate for the capability of incoming Gov. Bobby Jindal to pursue his conservative, reform agenda. In the Senate, only four of the 17 picked were Republicans, or 24 percent, where (now with the recent surprise partisan switch of Robert Adley to the GOP) 23 of the total membership are Republicans, or 41 percent. Keep in mind, however, that the minority Republicans always have been disproportionately underrepresented in the past, even with other GOP governors around.

Further cheer for reform forces should come from some individual selections of who got what and who didn’t. In the Senate, Adley despite his late switch was denied chairmanship of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee because of his insufficient track record when it came to reducing the size of government and returning the people’s money to them. State Sen. Joe McPherson, a sworn enemy of meaningful health care reform that would pass power from institutions to people, was stripped of his chairmanship of the body’s Health and Welfare Committee.

So at first glance concerning the Senate, there’s a bit of an imbalance to the Senate but to some degree this can be explained. The House figures will provide more definition.


Anonymous said...

Good analysis, IMHO. Here's an interesting topic for conversation, though I can't say that I have a strong opinion one way or another.

I haven't been here all that long, so I haven't followed how many legislators from up here have been term limited out.

I know that the folks from Washington Parish loved Sen. BB Rayborn, one of the last of the old school Longites. He could do no wrong because his seniority allowed him to bring home the pork in a big way. He was chair of the Senate Finance Committee for years before he got caught up in some sort of Video Poker scandal and was defeated (if memory serves).

Washington Parish has virtually no votes. Without legislators with a lot of seniority, they have little influence in state govt. The courthouse gangs and probably some of the people knew this, so they kept sending the same people back to BR.

Have terms limits worked to the detriment of North LA? Seniority in the legislature might compensate for less total votes? Is the tradeoff (more equality upon legislators?) helping state govt?

I generally oppose anything that limits the will of the people, and term limits seem to fit that category. We would seem to be saying, "We don't trust our future judgment, so save us from ourselves."

But term limits might work for the good of the state as a whole, even if they might work to the detriment of certain areas.

Or was it just a tool of the Republicans to get Dems out of the legislature, nothing more?

I would be interested in your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I agree that North Louisiana came out all right, but it was North EAST Louisiana, nothing meaningful was given to North West Louisiana.

This is particularly critical in redistricting. Either Jefferson/Melancon or McCrery's successor/Alexander will be merged into each other. Hopefully its the 3rd and 1st not the North Louisiana Districts, we saw what happened last time with cleo fields as the congressman for part of shreveport until that district was ruled illegal.

All i'm saying is that when it comes down to it, if south louisiana insists the district be cut from up here then who will get screwed--certainly not the NE side considering they have the chairmen of both redistricting committees (grambling and monroe).

Also, while I agree that Adley may not be ideal on every issue, he was a good vote on taxes. He nearly single handedly got through stelly relief for us, and he said he was for complete repeal but that idiot blanco would've vetoed anything larger. Now we can try to do some more on that front.

Adley certainly would have been worlds better at 'returning the peoples money' than Marrioneaux. Adley at least got us back some of our stelly deductions, marrioneaux was opposed to that though most of the process.

We've got a trial lawyer anti-business guy in charge of tax policy, Adley was almost always a loyal vote for business and would have surely been an improvement on marrioneaux.