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Legislature Facing High Turnover Going Into 2020

Wallis Watkins

Every twelve years, Louisiana’s Legislature goes through a shake up when a large number of legislators are termed out. 

The cycle started in 1995, when voters passed a constitutional amendment limiting state lawmakers to three terms, each four years long.

"This is the second wave of term limit elections. The first wave was in 2007. Now, 12 years later, we're in 2019," said Pearson Cross, associate professor of political science at UL Lafayette.

This October, every legislative seat is up for re-election. More than 30 percent of lawmakers are term limited, meaning they can’t run again for their current seat. 

"Many of those people are more moderate than the people they will be replaced by," suggests Cross, who says he expects the legislature—already controlled by Republicans—to steer more conservative.

Barry Erwin, president of Council for a Better Louisiana, says the political discourse in the Legislature will depend on who’s elected governor.

"I think that will set the tone to a large degree in terms of partisanship or not."

Democrat John Bel Edwards is running for his second term as governor against two Republican challengers: Congressman Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone.

Erwin says the legislative session—which wrapped last week—was largely influenced by lawmakers who weren’t necessarily interested in sticking their neck out with an election right around the corner.

"I think what you saw was people kind of keeping their head low -- not doing anything really wild on super hot-button issues, passing a pay raise, having a budget that takes care of some things that people feel good about, and then just going home."

Voters will head to the polls on October 12th, with any necessary runoffs slated for November.

Copyright 2019 WRKF

Wallis Watkins is a Baton Rouge native. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Louisiana State University in 2013. Soon after, she joined WRKF as an intern and is now reporting on health and health policy for Louisiana's Prescription.