LINGERING LAWMAKERS: Days In Session An All-Time Record

Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, shows the strain of listening to endless testimony and debate during the ongoing regular session, which, in concert with this year's two special session, will be the longest running in the state’s history. Credit: Justin DiCharia.

When the 2016 Louisiana Legislature, beginning its second special session Monday, withdraws on June 23 from its Statehouse entrenchment, it will have served 19 consecutive weeks, the longest weekly stretch in the legislative branch’s 204-year history.

Starting Feb. 14, it will have spanned three seasons of the year.

Research by Manship School News Service and information supplied from State Archivist Bill Stafford and the Legislative Research Library revealed lawmakers will have spent more consecutive weeks in Baton Rouge this year than any other body of Louisiana legislators since they first convened in 1812.

The House of Representatives did have three, four-day weekends since assembling – in between the first special and regular sessions, as well as long Easter and Memorial Day weekends.  The  Senate had two four-day breaks -- after the special session and for the Easter holiday – not to mention frequent three-day weekends.

In modern times, extended weekends have been routine until the end of a session.

The Louisiana Constitution sets the opening and closing dates of regular sessions, but it’s the governor who calls and sets the duration, not to mention the agenda, for special sessions.  The upcoming special session is limited to 18 days.

Some legislators expressed dismay at the circumstances requiring them to stay so long this year, a legislative span that will cover three seasons of 2016 when it ends on June 23.

“It’s unfortunate the way we have to make history,” said Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria.

Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said this year’s legislative sessions – two special and one regular session -- are some of the most challenging in his more than 40 years in the Legislature.

Thompson compared the “awesome” fiscal problems the state faces this year to the similarly fearsome problems the state faced after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. “This is a fiscal storm we’re facing, rather than a hurricane.”

Thompson noted the Legislature spent many consecutive weeks working under former Gov. Buddy Roemer, as well. Records show the body met for 14 consecutive weeks in 1989 and 15 consecutive weeks in 1991.

Legislators in 1960 and 1961 spent 15 weeks in back-to-back extraordinary sessions as they grappled with how to prevent or circumvent racial integration of schools. House Resolutions from the time speak candidly of separate public educational institutions by race.

In the span of a year, between 1934 and 1935, the Legislature was called into seven separate executive sessions. Lawmakers then, however, had as much as a month and a half break in between those sessions, as opposed to today’s run-on gatherings.

Some legislators expressed their frustration via social media. Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, wrote on his Facebook wall: “Well, I just thought we were going to get to come home on June 6. But Noooooo! ... I promise I still practice law but my business is on life support!!”

The 12-week regular session ends Monday at 6 p.m., but the year’s second special session, called for 18 days, will begin 30 minutes after the regular adjournment.  The regular session was preceded by a three and a half week special session that was convened on Feb. 14.

Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, said the long session is hard on legislators who have jobs outside of the Statehouse and those who have small children back home.

“If I’m not at my (non-legislative) job, I’m not making money,” said Landry, who operates a petroleum landman business.

Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, said legislators need to keep pushing, since the people of the state are relying on them.

“We’re not dead tired,” she said. “We don’t have a choice but to perform.”

SPONSORED: Legatus In Louisiana

The intersection of faith and the workplace can be a challenge to navigate. And yet, there is an undeniable way that faith and values inform

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/17: Steve Duke and Kevin Gallagher — Wednesday 10/18: Paul Hardy, Connie Caldwell, Kodi Wilson and Robert Morris —

The Beltway Beat

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy to Gov. Edwards: “Top quality health care for our people is extraordinarily important. (No reasonable person has

Angele Davis For The State Senate?

When you run better than expected in a statewide race and pull 41 percent in your own Senate District 16 — against five opponents, one of

LaHistory: When The Majority Leader Vanished

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the strange disappearance of U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, a proud son of Louisiana. Boggs

Oct. 14: What Happened?

An astounding 86.5 percent of Louisiana’s registered population didn’t vote during this past weekend’s statewide elections. The math is a

POD: One From The Lobbying Corps…

Episode 22 of Season 2 has two guests from Spradely & Spradley, a government relations firm in Baton Rouge. They are Tom and Matt

LOWDOWN VIDEO: Election Zombies & Political Daredevils

We've got election zombies and political daredevils in this latest episode of The LaPolitics Lowdown. See how Louisiana lost a half

MEDIA SNAPSHOTS: About Last Night…

SPONSORED: Tax Reform (& A Tax Cocktail)

Tax reform is one of the nation’s most polarizing issue. The topic is so vast and complicated that few even attempt to understand the

You Should Be Listening To The Supremes

Can you name one of the justices currently serving on the United States Supreme Court? If you cannot, you’re among 57 percent of likely

The Beltway Beat

— Lindsay Lohan’s parents want a lawsuit filed against U.S. Sen. John Kennedy for the “mini-bar” comment. Missed that one? Watch

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/10: Late Supreme Court Justice George Eustis (1796) — Wednesday 10/11: Rick Boudreaux — Thursday 10/12: The one and

Political Chatter

— RELEASE: “During the October meeting on Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission opted not to vote on a proposal to give

Early Voting Analysis: “Not Much To Say”

The following words and thoughts belong to Ed Chervenak, the director of the UNO Survey Research Center… An analysis of the early voting

Jeff Landry’s New Chief Of Staff

Lynnel Ruckert, the former chief of staff to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, has been hired by Attorney General Jeff Landry to fill the

POD: The Jambalaya Episode

John Diez, the PAC director for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, stops by to discuss what you need to make the perfect

LaHistory: An Unfriendly Month For Governors

Since 1828 there have been seven Louisiana governors who have passed away during the month of October, either while in office or later in

LOWDOWN: The Time Thibodaux Was Governor

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser reveals a private conversation he had with Gov. John Bel Edwards about his future election plans... We meet

SPONSORED: Experience Is The Best Teacher

Experience is the best teacher. Louisiana-native Emily Bacque has learned the truth behind this adage after much experience in the

ICYMI: The “Next Frontier” For Public Records

The general counsel for the state’s premier newspaper and magazine association believes that the “next frontier for public records law in

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/03: Former Congressman Charlie Melancon, David Crigler, and John Hill — Wednesday 10/04: Former Gov. Buddy Roemer, former

The Beltway Beat

— Majority Whip Steve Scalise returns to Congress and speaks on the floor. WATCH — The Scalise 60 Minutes interview (his first after he

Political Chatter

— His former colleagues in the Legislature probably won’t dig it much, but John Schroder’s new (and likely final) campaign commercial will

POD: Dardenne Goes To The Hoop

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is this week’s guest on The LaPolitics Report podcast. He reveals how close he came to walking