Posted on: January 17 2012"Metro area to keep its' clout in Baton Rouge"
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Editorial Page Staff, The Times-Picayune
The Legislature has important issues to tackle in the four-year term that began last week, from the state's long-term fiscal condition to Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed education reforms. There are also vital issues pending for metro New Orleans, including continued support for a new teaching hospital in Mid-City and for the state's massive coastal restoration strategy.
That's why it's important that representatives from our region have landed a large number of spots in the Legislature's leadership, despite a smaller delegation resulting from redistricting and population loss.
State Sen. John Alario, from Westwego, is the new Senate president. Just as important, metro lawmakers will chair 16 of the 33 regular legislative committees. That will give local representatives considerable clout in Baton Rouge.
The area delegation dropped from 50 lawmakers in the previous term to 42 now. Yet metro legislators will chair four more committees than in the previous term. In addition, two local senators and seven representatives will be vice-chairs of committees in the 2012-16 term.
The choices reflect in part the influence of Sen. Alario's new position as president of the Senate. He tapped local officials for some of the chamber's most important leadership posts. That includes naming state Sen. Jack Donahue, of Covington, to run the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Conrad Appel, of Metairie, to chair the Senate Education Committee. So, area lawmakers will lead the Senate's top money and budget panel and the committee that will hear Gov. Jindal's education agenda.
The loss of eight votes in the 144-member Legislature will affect our region, no doubt. But the added clout in committee leadership should help ensure that issues of local importance won't be ignored.