WRKF
11:33 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Republicans Gain Supermajority in State Senate

Another Louisiana State Senator has jumped the aisle to the Republican party.

Sen. Rick Ward, who represents parts of the Capitol Region, from Port Allen into Assumption Parish, gives the Republicans a supermajority in the Senate. Several kinds of measures are constitutionally required to pass with a two-thirds vote, like tax increases and procedural items after a certain date near the end of the session.

The Louisiana House alliance of fiscally conservative Republicans and Democrats may have a harder time facing the Senate next session.

The House lost one of its own powerful Democrats last week, when Chair of the Appropriations Committee, where the state budget originates, switched parties. Rep. Jim Fannin said last week the Democratic Party no longer represented his or his constituents' views on issues like marriage, gun rights and abortion.

Ward, as the third democratic lawmaker to switch parties since the end of May, also joins fellow Sen. Elbert Guillory.

Democrats historically controlled the state House and Senate until the 2010 election cycle. Now democrats hold only one statewide office, US Sen. Mary Landrieu’s seat, which is up for grabs next year.

Ward told The Business Report his reasons for the change are similar to those of his colleagues, that his philosophy aligns more accurately with the conservative party.

Last session, Ward worked with Rep. Karen St. Germain - D, to pass new regulations for salt dome mining after members of their constituency were displaced by a massive sinkhole caused by drilling in Assumption.

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