BATON ROUGE, LA. -- Louisiana state lawmakers are more aggressively asserting their independence from the state's governor, particularly in their leadership decisions, finally leaning into the constitutional separation of powers that had always existed on paper if not in actual practice.
Still, while legislators promote their bucking of a tradition that once had a governor handpicking the House speaker and Senate president, they haven't freed themselves from other outside meddling. Campaign donors, elected officials, lobbying groups and others are making their thoughts about leadership decisions known as lawmakers jockey for positions behind closed doors.
“Just because you're independent of the governor doesn't mean you're independent of third-party groups that stand outside the rails and really weigh in on what everybody's doing and how they're operating,” Sen. Rick Ward, a Port Allen Republican told a GOP luncheon crowd.
The House and Senate elect their new leaders when the latest term starts Jan. 13. The House speaker and Senate president choose committee chairmen, make committee assignments and set the calendar. Those decisions can determine whether bills pass or fail.