BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Two New Orleans area lawmakers were chosen Thursday to lead the House committees that will be essential to deciding the fate of Gov. John Bel Edwards' budget and tax proposals.Thanks, for that Neil. You're really helping.
House Speaker Taylor Barras announced his committee assignments, saying he thought the list contained a balance of leadership from various geographical, political and racial backgrounds.
"This is an outstanding group of dedicated public servants who are ready and able to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing our state," Barras, R-New Iberia, said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Cameron Henry of Metairie was named chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which crafts the state's budget and handles most spending bills.
Democratic Rep. Neil Abramson of New Orleans was chosen chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which handles tax legislation and state construction spending plans. Abramson was the only Democrat to vote for Barras as speaker, and the chairmanship was seen as a reward for that decision.
Gov. John Bel Edwards withdrew a key Medicaid expansion item from the a legislative budget committee agenda Friday morning (Jan. 29), hours after the Louisiana House announced its committee members would be mostly Republicans.
The Edwards administration was planning on asking the Louisiana Legislature's joint budget committee to approve the hire of an additional 248 employees at the Department of Health and Hospitals to handle Medicaid expansion. The hires are needed to fulfill one of the Democratic governor's top priorities to provide more access to health care in the state.
The yanking of the item may be a signal the Louisiana House will make it difficult to Edwards to execute Medicaid expansion. The governor has typically had a lot of control over who legislative leadership, but the Republican-controlled House is exerting more independence this year.