Thanks to Ellington, Jindal's in hot water
by Sam Hanna, Jr. - posted Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 @ 3:39 pm
State Rep.-elect Noble Ellington called the other day.
A term-limited member of the state Senate who was elected to his old seat in the House of Representatives last month, Ellington was concerned that no one from northeastern Louisiana had been tapped to serve in a leadership capacity in Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal's administration, which will become the administration of record in January.
Ellington also correctly noted that two key leadership positions in the Legislature—come January and beyond—will be occupied by lawmakers from southeastern Louisiana. Of course, we're talking about Rep. Jim Tucker of Terrytown, who apparently has the votes to be elected by his colleagues as Speaker of the House. Meanwhile, Sen. Joel Chaisson of Destrehan, for all practical purposes, was anointed president of the Senate, though Chaisson must officially be elected by his colleagues to that post as well.
Tucker is a die-hard Republican who will hold sway over a Democratic-controlled House; Chaisson is a rather moderate Democrat who apparently gets along with conservatives and liberals alike. The Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, too, when lawmakers take their oaths of office next month.
Yet, the spur sticking in Ellington's side stemmed from an apparent snub, if you will, by Jindal.
Four years ago, Jindal lost the governor's race after polling poorly in northeastern Louisiana and in the Florida parishes.
That wasn't the case in the primary election in October of this year when Jindal outdistanced a crowded field of candidates to win the gubernatorial campaign outright with some 54 percent of the vote.
Jindal, meanwhile, doubled his take of the vote in northeastern Louisiana in '07 compared to his showing here in 2003.
Thus, Ellington feels Jindal should stand behind the pledges he made on the campaign trail in which then-candidate Jindal said he wouldn't forget about northeastern Louisiana in naming the folks who will have a seat at the table in his administration.
Sounds fair in this corner.
Ellington's concern, or concerns, though, likely will be put to rest if he is appointed chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
And that's exactly what's in the works as some kind of a payback for northeastern Louisiana.
While the legislative leadership (Chaisson and Tucker) tries in vain to have the people believe they are the ones who decide the committee assignments, chairmanships and the like for all 144 members of the Legislature, it would be foolish not to acknowledge the influence the new governor and his key advisors play in shaping the make-up of the various committees in the House and the Senate.
Especially the committees that play a heavy hand in deciding the fate of legislation near and dear to the heart of the new administration.
The Appropriations and Way and Means committees in the House and Finance and Revenue and Fiscal Affairs in the Senate come to mind.
In the meantime, Ellington's appointment to chair Appropriations—if it occurs—would spell good news for northeastern Louisiana. He would sit in a prime position to tend to the needs of a region of the state that's often overlooked when the time arrives to spend the people's money on one state-funded project or another.
Conservatives, though, including the soon-to-be Speaker of the House, aren't happy with the idea of Ellington chairing Appropriations.
They believe Ellington is an advocate of raising taxes to fund a big government over cutting taxes and less government. Ellington's voting record over his 20-year tenure in the Legislature is cited as evidence for that argument.
While it's certainly noble of conservatives to stand by their principles in opposing Ellington's appointment to chair Appropriations, which they're doing, they would do well to accept it.
Because Jindal seems dead set on tapping his friend from Franklin Parish as chairman of one of the most influential committees in the Legislature.
Sam Hanna, Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.