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A NEW DAY AT THE CAPITOL

On the front steps of the house that Huey built, under grey skies, John Bel Edwards took the oath of office for the second time as governor of the state of Louisiana, January 13, 2020.

Edwards emphasized funding early childhood education during his speech citing priorties for his second term.

“We know that education is key to economic opportunity and the pathway to prosperity must begin at the earliest stage of life,” Edwards said. “Over the next four years we’re going to continue increasing classroom funding and we’re going to give educators additional pay raises that will get them to at least the southern regional average.”

Edwards also mentioned raising the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour, focusing on equal pay legislation and making improvements to the state’s infrastructure. 

“The future is ours to seize, but we have to commit here and now to be great, to work together, to continue to reject the partisan rancor and dysfunction that plagues Washington, D.C.,” Edwards said.

This session will be interesting for the Democratic governor. Both the State Senate and State House are firmly controlled by a Republican majority. Two-thirds of the Senate is Republican, as are 68 seats of the 105 in the House. 

In many ways, this important day was overshadowed by the LSU Tigers playing for the National Championship later that evening. Several elected officials throughout the day opened or ended their speeches with “Geaux Tigers.” The governor was even introduced by Dan Borné, who has been the public address announcer at Tiger Stadium during football games for many years. The governor canceled the traditional inaugural ball, opting instead for a reception in New Orleans prior to the Tigers taking the field to play. 

MAGEE ELECTED SPEAKER PRO TEMP

The Louisiana State House of Representatives has elected Tanner Magee, R-Houma, as their Speaker Pro Tempore.

This move came after the House elected Gonzales Republican Clay Schexnayder as Speaker. This race was a hot one, as conservative leaders backed state Rep. Sherman Mack.

“In all honesty, I wasn’t anticipating this position before this morning,” shared Rep. Magee. “It was unexpected, but I’m ready to get to work.”

Magee stated that his positions would not change when it came to moving the state forward.

“My same position is to try and reform Louisiana, to pull us up from being 50th in the list for so many things where we should be number one,” said Rep. Magee. “I will continue to make sure Terrebonne Parish is protected and safe, so we can remain a vibrant community for families living here.”

When it comes to working with a Democrat as governor, Rep. Magee was confident in the House’s abilities to make progress.

“I’ve always worked under the idea that there are things we agree upon, so let’s work towards those goals first,” shared Rep. Magee. “The things we don’t agree upon we will work towards them together.”

The office of Speaker Pro Temp was created in 1972. Magee is the second speaker pro temp to hail from Terrebonne Parish, following Hunt Downer who served as Speaker Pro Temp from 1988-1992.  

FESI TAKES OATH OF OFFICE AS NEW STATE SENATOR

 Michael “Big Mike” Fesi was among 20 new members in the Senate to take his oath of office, representing District 20. The Houma Republican replaces former Senator Norby Chabert. 

“It was a great feeling of accomplishment being sworn in,” said Sen. Fesi. “I’m extremely proud to say that our Senate came together and unanimously elected all offices – from Senate President to Sergeant of Arms. Hopefully this is a sign that our State Senate will continue working together for the coming years to bring the great State of Louisiana the success it deserves.”

Senator Fesi said he places a high priority on generating economic opportunities and job creation. He also said he plans to focus on balancing the state’s operating budget and repairing Louisiana’s coast.

ZERINGUE READY TO LEAD

State representatives Jerome “Z” Zeringue and Tanner Magee were unopposed in this election cycle and returned to Baton Rouge to continue to support our area. 

When asked what he thought about there being no opposition to his seat, Rep. Zeringue said, “It means that no one else wanted the job or I have been somewhat successful in accomplishing things that benefit our region.  Either way I am extremely humbled by the support of the people here in Terrebonne and Lafourche, and honored to have the opportunity to continue to represent them in Baton Rouge.”

During this legislative term, Rep. Zeringue said he plans to focus on several statewide issues which will improve our transportation infrastructure, as well as continuing to support higher education, early childhood education and reducing insurance rates. On a more local level, he said he plans to work on several road, bridge and drainage projects as well as continue to support our coastal restoration and protection efforts.

Despite having a Democratic governor in office, Rep. Zeringue said he expects the chambers and the governor will be able to work together. 

“Having a republican majority in the House and Senate will allow both chambers to work together for the betterment of the state,” shared Rep. Zeringue. “Although the Governor is from a different party, we need to be mindful that leadership is not about exerting power over someone but focusing on advancing the interests of our state, by reducing spending, and improve our budgeting process making state government more efficient which will provide increased opportunities for the people of Louisiana.” •

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