House Speaker Kleckley announces committee shakeups

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Two Republican state lawmakers were removed from the House Appropriations Committee on Friday — part of several committee shake-ups announced by House

Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.

Reps. Cameron Henry, R-Metarie, and Joe

Harrison, R-Gray, were taken off the powerful committee, which helps

draft the state’s

annual budget. Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Erath, was appointed the

committee’s vice chairman, the position held by Henry. Harrison

was replaced by Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna.

Kleckley issued a news release saying the changes were made because he had “a better understanding of the best use of the

legislator’s individual talents.” He said the “bipartisan decisions were made after in-depth discussions with members from

both sides of the aisle.” Kleckley did not respond to requests for further comment.

Henry said that while the decision “was unfortunate,” he was not surprised by it. He said he and Kleckley “butted heads” and

had different “fiscal policy philosophies.”

“We differed on the cuts to the LSU Health System,” Henry said. “There were these broad-based cuts made without knowing how

it would affect the patients. We have a difference of opinion on the best way to move the state forward.”

Henry said Gov. Bobby Jindal’s

administration prefers lawmakers “who trust them, say, ‘Yes,’ and move

on,” instead of questioning

their decisions. He said Kleckley “has to show some independence”

from Jindal’s administration, especially after the decision

in September to close Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy.

“I’m trying to hold the administration

and (Kleckley) responsible for their actions, not just check a box and

forget people

that work there,” he said. “Leadership doesn’t close something,

send a press release and move on. There are consequences for

closing prisons and hospitals, and you have to be able to address

those.”

According to New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, Harrison said Kleckley called him on Friday to discuss his removal from the committee.

Kleckley told him he was removed because Republican lawmakers complained that they did not want Harrison on the committee.

Harrison said Kleckley would not disclose who complained.

According to the release, Henry was

moved to the Civil Law and Procedure Committee. Harrison was moved to

the Commerce Committee.