Rep. Clay Schexnayder on Monday was elected speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives.
Republicans, who hold 68 of the body’s 105 seats, split their votes between Schexnayder, a Gonzales Republican, and Albany Republican Rep. Sherman Mack. Democrats backed Schexnayder.
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and Attorney General Jeff Landry had pushed fellow Republicans to back Mack, who garnered the most support in a closed-door Republican caucus meeting prior to Monday’s organizational session. Schexnayder framed his election Monday as a win for the House’s independence and a rejection of Washington, D.C.-style “politics and rhetoric.” The vote was 60-45.
“We sent out a strong message to the people of Louisiana,” Schexnayder said. “Their House is a fiercely independent body that is committed to doing one thing and one thing only: Creating a better life for Louisiana’s citizens.”
House members unanimously selected Rep. Tanner Magee, a Houma Republican, as speaker pro tempore.
“My office is open to all of y’all whenever you want,” Magee said. “I want my office and my time here to be about bringing us together, moving the state forward, and doing what the people of Louisiana ask us to do.”
As expected, Senators unanimously selected Sen. Patrick Page Cortez, a Lafayette Republican, to be the next Senate president.
“We will have challenges,” Cortez said. “I know that each one of you is up to the task of meeting those challenges head-on, with the intention of leaving the state of Louisiana better for you having been here.”
Sen. Beth Mizell, a Franklinton Republican, was unanimously selected Senate president pro tempore.
“I would like to congratulate Senate President Page Cortez and Speaker Clay Schexnayder on their elections this morning,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “By rejecting partisan rancor and those who seek to turn Baton Rouge into Washington D.C., we can continue Louisiana’s stability and make progress that will allow us to continue on a course of prosperity. I stand ready to work with all of those who come in good faith.”
The House named Michelle Fontenot, former director of the House’s legal division, as House clerk. Fontenot, who trained with longtime clerk Alfred “Butch” Speer last year, is the first woman to hold the position.
Yolanda Dixon is the new Senate secretary, replacing the retiring Glenn Koepp. Dixon is the first woman and first black person to hold the job.