BRIGGS: Historic Day For The Louisiana Legislature

The 2015 political election season ushered in a much different looking political landscape for 2016. A new governor has been inaugurated along with a new attorney general and many new legislators in both chambers.

While many predicted that 2016 would be a unique time for our state, not many folks predicted the historic event that took place on January 11th. For the first time in the state’s history, both chambers of the legislative branch of government selected new leaders without the direct influence of the executive branch. An independence from the Governor’s Office will add a new burden on the legislative branch.

For the last several decades, when the House or the Senate made choices that upset the people, the scapegoat was always to blame the sitting governor who had hand-picked the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. This easy out of blaming the governor is now over. This new legislature for 2016 will be held accountable for all of their actions moving forward. If good or bad policy is voted into law, they will only be able to point fingers at each other for the outcome.

The Louisiana Senate held a closed ballot with a list of senator’s names allowing the senators to simply vote on their choice. The newly re-elected Senate President, John Alario, will again lead for this term. On the House side, things happened very differently. The newly elected governor had a candidate that was his clear choice. The House held a roll call vote and decisively defeated the governor’s choice for Speaker by electing Republican Taylor Barras as the new Speaker of the House.

Again, while this sounds like a strong victory for the winning party, and it was, much responsibility follows. As we approach the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the State of Louisiana is facing a $2.3 billion deficit. This will mean drastic cuts across the board for nearly every state agency and business industry.

In the past, the finger would be easily pointed at the governor for this or that problem. If a line-item veto occurred, then “Governor Jindal’s” or “Governor Blanco’s Speaker or President” took the heat- the ultimate heat falling on the sitting governor.

The bottom line is this: both branches of government have always desired their independence from one another. With this new leadership in place and the way in which it occurred, the governor will do his job of governing and the legislature will do their job of legislating new law. Both branches have the full capability of doing what is right for the people of Louisiana – and that is what will be expected of them.

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