Louisiana State Senate

Last updated
Louisiana State Senate
Louisiana State Legislature
Seal of Louisiana.svg
Type
Type
Term limits
3 terms (12 years)
History
New session started
March 9, 2020
Leadership
Page Cortez (R)
since January 13, 2020
Beth Mizell (R)
since January 13, 2020
Structure
Seats39
Louisiana State Senate April 2020.svg
Political groups
Majority
  •    Republican (27)

Minority

Length of term
4 years
AuthorityArticle III, Section 3, Louisiana Constitution
Salary$15,362/year
Elections
Last election
October 12 and November 16, 2019
(39 seats)
Next election
October 14 and November 18, 2023
(39 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative Control
Meeting place
Louisiana State Senate.jpg
State Senate Chamber
Louisiana State Capitol
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Website
Louisiana State Senate
Seal of Louisiana.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Louisiana

The Louisiana State Senate (French : Sénat de Louisiane) is the upper house of the state legislature of Louisiana. All senators serve four-year terms and are assigned to multiple committees.

Composition

The Louisiana State Senate is composed of 39 senators elected from single-member districts from across the state of Louisiana by the electors thereof. Senators must be a qualified elector (registered voter), be at least eighteen years of age, be domiciled in their district for at least one year, and must have been a resident of the state for at least two years. The senate is the judge of its members' qualifications and elections. All candidates for a senate seat in a district run in a nonpartisan blanket primary and in a runoff if necessary. Elections to the Senate occur every four years and senators are limited three four-year terms (12 years). If a seat is vacated early during a term then it will be filled in a special election. Senate sessions occur every year, along with the Louisiana House of Representatives. The Senate convenes for sixty legislative days in general session in even-numbered years, and for forty-five days in appropriations session in odd-numbered years. The Senate is the upper legislative chamber of the Louisiana State Legislature and, along with the Louisiana House of Representatives, is the legislative power of the State of Louisiana. In addition it tries officials impeached by the House of Representatives and confirms or rejects officials nominated by the Governor of Louisiana.

AffiliationParty
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Republican Democratic Vacant
End of legislature 20112217390
Begin 20122415390
End of legislature 20152413
Begin 20162514390
End of legislature 2019
Begin 20202712390
Latest voting share

Members

DistrictNamePartyDistrict OfficeFirst electedEligible for reelection
1 Sharon Hewitt Rep Slidell 2015Yes
2 Ed Price Dem Gonzales 2017Yes
3 Joseph Bouie Jr. Dem New Orleans 2019Yes
4 Jimmy Harris Dem New Orleans 2019Yes
5 Karen Carter Peterson Dem New Orleans 2010No
6 Bodi White Rep Baton Rouge 2011No
7 Troy Carter Dem New Orleans 2015Yes
8 Patrick Connick Rep Marrero 2019Yes
9 Cameron Henry Rep Metairie 2019Yes
10 Kirk Talbot Rep River Ridge 2019Yes
11 Patrick McMath Rep Covington 2019Yes
12 Beth Mizell Rep Franklinton 2015Yes
13 J. Rogers Pope Rep Denham Springs 2019Yes
14 Cleo Fields Dem Baton Rouge 2019Yes
15 Regina Barrow Dem Baton Rouge 2015Yes
16 Franklin Foil Rep Baton Rouge 2019Yes
17 Rick Ward III Rep Port Allen 2011No
18 Eddie J. Lambert Rep Prairieville 2015Yes
19 Gary Smith Jr. Dem Norco 2011No
20 Mike Fesi Rep Houma 2019Yes
21 Bret Allain Rep Franklin 2011No
22 Fred Mills Rep New Iberia 2011No
23 Page Cortez Rep Lafayette 2011No
24 Gerald Boudreaux Dem Lafayette 2015Yes
25 Mark Abraham Rep Lake Charles 2019Yes
26 Bob Hensgens Rep Abbeville 2018Yes
27 Ronnie Johns Rep Lake Charles 2011No
28 Heather Cloud Rep Turkey Creek 2019Yes
29 Jay Luneau Dem Alexandria 2015Yes
30 Mike Reese Rep Leesville 2019Yes
31 Louie Bernard Rep Natchitoches 2019Yes
32 Glen Womack Rep Harrisonburg 2019Yes
33 Stewart Cathey Jr. Rep Monroe 2019Yes
34 Katrina Jackson Dem Monroe 2019Yes
35 Jay Morris Rep West Monroe 2019Yes
36 Robert Mills Rep Minden 2019Yes
37 Barrow Peacock Rep Bossier City 2011No
38 Barry Milligan Rep Shreveport 2019Yes
39 Gregory Tarver Dem Shreveport 2011No

Committee assignments

The Louisiana State Senate currently has over fifteen different committees in which the senators sit. These committees address a wide range of issues such as environmental quality, education, labor relations and more . A full list of the committees can be found at the senate committees page. [1] Likewise, a full list of committee assignments (by member) can be found at the committee assignments page. [2]

NameChairmanVice Chairman
Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, & Rural DevelopmentStewart Cathey, Jr.Glen Womack
Commerce, Consumer Protection, & International AffairsRonnie JohnsCameron Henry
EducationCleo FieldsKatrina Jackson
Environmental QualityEddie LambertJ. Rogers Pope
FinanceMack "Bodi" WhiteHeather Cloud
Health and WelfareFred H. Mills, Jr.Regina Barrow
InsuranceKirk TalbotLouie Bernard
Judiciary ABarrow PeacockJimmy Harris
Judiciary BGary SmithJoe Bouie
Judiciary CFranklin FoilMark Abraham
Labor and Industrial RelationsTroy CarterMike Reese
Local and Municipal AffairsKaren Carter PetersonGerald Boudreaux
Natural ResourcesBob HensgensMichael Fesi
RetirementEdward PriceRobert Mills
Revenue and Fiscal AffairsBret AllainJay Luneau
Senate and Governmental AffairsSharon HewittBarry Milligan
Transportation, Highways, & Public WorksRick WardPatrick McMath

President of the Senate

The President of the Louisiana State Senate is the presiding officer of the Louisiana State Senate and the highest-ranking state senator. The President is elected by the members of the state senate. Although not mandated by law or the Louisiana Constitution the Governor usually chooses the president, who in turn is usually elected by a near-unanimous, if not unanimous, vote. The president is usually chosen from the majority party, even if it is not the Governor's party, although this is not always the case. One example of this is when Republican Governor Mike Foster chose Republican State Senator John Hainkel to serve as senate president even though the Democrats had a large majority. One factor that allows for this is that the Governor usually has support on both sides of the aisle when he first enters office so his appointees, including the senate president, are usually confirmed easily.

The President is fifth in the line of succession to the Governorship after the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and State Treasurer.

History

Early years

The Louisiana Constitution of 1812 did not provide for a lieutenant governor to succeed to the governorship in case of the governor's death, resignation or removal from office, neither would there be a lieutenant governor to preside over the state senate, instead it provided that the President would serve as the state senate's presiding officer and become acting governor until the seating of an elected governor. The first senate president to succeed to the governorship was Henry S. Thibodaux, who succeeded to the position in 1824 after the resignation of Governor Thomas B. Robertson. Thibodaux served for one month before the Governor-elect, Henry Johnson, took office. In 1829 Governor Pierre Derbigny died in a carriage accident, allowing for Senate President Armand Beauvais to become acting governor. Beauvais resigned after only three months in 1830 to run in the special election to fill the post. The new senate president, Jacques Dupré, became the new acting Governor until he resigned in 1831 and was replaced by governor-elect André B. Roman.

Lieutenant Governor as President

In the Louisiana Constitution of 1846 the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana assumed the functions of the senate presidency. This arrangement lasted until 1976. The first lieutenant governor to preside over the Senate was Trasimond Landry who served from 1846 until 1850. During the Civil War there were two lieutenant governors, one union, and one confederate, as there were two separate state governments. During the Reconstruction the post was held by Republicans, thereafter the chair was held by Democrats for over a hundred years.

Democratic Domination (1877–1976)

From the end of the Reconstruction in 1877 until the appointment of John Hainkel in 2000, the senate chair was held by Democrats. During this time most lieutenant governors were allies of the Governor, with notable exceptions. During this time several senate presidents pro tempore became acting lieutenant governor due to the premature vacating of the office of lieutenant governor. On at least two occasions it was due to the ascension of the lieutenant governor to the governorship, in the case of the others it was because of the death, resignation or removal of the lieutenant governor. When the seat was vacated the president pro tempore became acting lieutenant governor in accordance with the constitution, and on two occasions the president pro tempore became governor. In 1976 with implementation of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 the lieutenant governor assumed executive duties and the gavel once again passed to a senate elected president. Also in 1976, Virginia Shehee became the first woman elected to the Louisiana State Senate. [3]

Two-party system (1976–present)

The reinstatement of the elected senate presidency and the installation of a new constitution brought with it something Louisiana had not seen since the 1850s; a two-party system. Also new to the presidency the practicing of appointing of the president by the Governor. This practice had been applied to the state House Speakership for years. The first elected Senate President under the new constitution was Michael H. O'Keefe Sr., an ally of Edwin Edwards, who was elected to his second term as governor in 1975. In 1980 something that had not happened since the Reconstruction became a reality; a Republican governor was in office. David Treen was elected in 1979, and with him came more Republican legislators, although only an enlarged minority. O'Keefe retained the senate presidency under Treen until he was forced to resign the presidency after convictions in federal court.

In 2000, although still in the minority, Republican John Hainkel, who served as Speaker of the House as a Democrat under Treen, was appointed by Republican Governor Murphy J. Foster, Jr. to be senate president, the first Republican in over a century. In 2011 the Republicans obtained a majority in the senate, a Republican John Alario, a Democratic Speaker of the House under Edwin Edwards from 1984 to 1988 and again from 1992 to 1996, was appointed senate president by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, joining Hainkel as the only men to be elected as Speaker of the House and Senate President in Louisiana's history. Alario retained the position when Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected in 2015.

In 2020, Republican Patrick Page Cortez was elected senate president when Alario retired due to term limits.

Powers

The President of the Senate serves as the presiding officer and head of the Senate. The President gives the senators their committee assignment although the assignments are already predetermined by the Governor and his office. During legislative sessions the President can play a key role in the passage or rejection of legislation in the legislature, due to the office's prestige, power, and influence. If a senator supports the Governor's agenda the president may promote them to more powerful committees, or even appoint them chairman or vice chairmanships. The president usually maintains a strong hold on the senate and legislation through his appointment of committee memberships and committee chairmen. The president has the power to rule on points of order recognize senators so they may speak and control the flow of legislation through the senate. The senate president is almost always an ally of the Governor, this allows the administration to pass their legislative agenda through easier and it allows them to kill opposition legislation easier too. The senate president is usually a powerful and influential senator before he is appointed senate president. If a senate seat falls vacant before the expiration f its term the senate president calls for an election, he sets the date, times, and places of voting. Upon the petition of a majority of the members of the legislature the President along with the Speakers calls a special session. The senate president is fifth in the gubernatorial line of succession. If the president is ever absent the senate president pro tempore, who is also appointed by the governor, presides. Should the senate chair ever fall permanently vacant the senate president pro tempore presides until the election of a new president.

Past composition of the Senate

See also

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References

  1. "Louisiana State Senate - Committees". senate.legis.state.la.us.
  2. "Louisiana State Senate - Senators". senate.legis.state.la.us.
  3. "Longtime Northwest Louisiana Business and Community Leader, Virginia Shehee Dies at 91". Center Broadcasting Company. Retrieved July 17, 2020.