Four newly elected senators from Northeastern Louisiana gained assignments last week to a combined 10 committees in the state Senate, including the Senate’s “money committees” where decisions are made about how to spend taxpayer dollars.
Senate President Page Cortez published the committee assignments last week. The Senate committees will be the first to entertain proposed legislation from its members or legislation approved in the House of Representatives.
Among the other assignments, Sen. Stewart Cathey received an assignment as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development. The chairmanship was notable because Cathey, 38, is a freshman senator with no prior legislative experience.
Cathey said he was honored to receive the assignment and proud to stand with Cortez.
“We’ve had several industries come and go in northeast Louisiana over the past 25 years, but one thing remains constant: agriculture,” said Cathey, R-Sterlington.
“My Senate district, I’m willing to say, is probably the most ag-centric district in Louisiana, whether it’s row crop, timber, poultry, beef, dairy. It’s a natural fit for me to lead the fight for the ag community in the Senate.”
Sen. Glen Womack, R-Harrisonburg, will serve as vice-chairman of Senate’s agriculture committee. Sen. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, also will serve as a member of the agriculture committee.
Womack, like Cathey, is a newcomer to the Legislature.
He will serve on three committees critical to the state’s budget, economy and to the upcoming redistricting process: the Committee on Finance, the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, and the Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs.
“I’m excited about it,” Womack said. “I feel like those will be some good committees for Northeast Louisiana.”
Morris, who previously served in the House, was assigned to the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations and the Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs.
“I’m pleased to be on the Commerce committee,” Morris said. “My background in business and banking lends itself to contributing to the work of the committee.”
He and Cathey also will serve as interim members on the Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs.
“That means I’m on the joint committee for capital outlay,” Morris said. “For any meetings between sessions, any capital outlay items or regulations that need to be approved, the interim committee takes care of those things.”
Meanwhile, Cathey said he looked forward to helping develop a tort reform package in the Committee on Insurance, to which he was appointed.
“When you look at the makeup of the Senate Insurance committee, we’ll be able to reduce insurance rates for people in the state of Louisiana. We have to get our insurance costs down,” Cathey said.
“If we have a tort reform package come through the Insurance committee, I think it will get out of there easily. I’m excited to hit the ground running and giving the people of Louisiana some insurance relief.”
Cathey, who is a veteran, also received assignments to the Select Committee on Homeland Security and Select Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Jackson, who is a close ally of Gov. John Bel Edwards, was made vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Education.
She also received assignments to the Committee on Insurance and to Senate Finance, as an interim member.
The Ouachita Citizen reached out to her for a comment but she did not respond.
As of Tuesday, committee assignments in the House of Representatives had not yet been released.