GOP leaders tapped for Louisiana Senate’s budget, tax panels

Louisiana News

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – The Louisiana Senate’s new Republican president will continue a tradition for bipartisan leadership across the majority-GOP chamber’s subject-matter committees.

But Republicans will take charge of the key financial and redistricting panels. Senate President Page Cortez released the membership breakdown of the Senate’s 17 standing committees Friday.

He named Republican as leaders of 12 panels and gave Democrats the chairmanships of five panels.

But the most closely-watched committees with domain over the budget, taxes and the redrawing of political district lines will be firmly in Republican hands. Cortez was unanimously elected Senate president Monday when the new legislative term began.

Senate rules require the Senate Finance Committee to include at least one member from each congressional district. But Cortez also extended that to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that will be overseeing the politically sensitive task of redistricting, the remapping of legislative and congressional political boundaries.

“I asked for requests from everyone, and I tried as much as I could to meet their requests by interest area,” Cortez told The Associated Press. “That played probably as big a part in it as anything.”

He noted, for example, that senators from coastal areas wanted to serve on the natural resources committee, while senators from rural farm areas sought seats on the agriculture committee.

Baton Rouge area Sen. Mack “Bodi” White will helm the Finance Committee that draws up the state’s annual operating budget. Sen. Bret Allain of Franklin will oversee the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee that handles tax policy. And Slidell Sen. Sharon Hewitt will take charge of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee that governs redistricting. All are in the GOP.

Democrats will take charge of the education, labor, local affairs and retirement committees, along with one of three judiciary panels.

Among the Democrats, Sen. Cleo Fields of Baton Rouge, returning to the Senate after a 12-year absence, will chair the education panel. New Orleans Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, the chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, will oversee the Local and Municipal Affairs Committee, which deals with local government oversight. Sen. Gary Smith, of Norco, will continue to lead the Judiciary B Committee, which handles criminal justice issues.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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