People and Politics: September 2012 | STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE
LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE FISCAL OFFICER GORDON MONK retired in August after 33 years in state government. The legislature’s top financial adviser told The Advocate that the increased workload and internal strife were factors in his decision to depart. Monk started in the fiscal office as an intern in 1979, and took his current position in 2005. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin (D) praised Monk’s work. “He’s set a high standard,” Fannin said.
DR. KYLE JANEK, AN AUSTIN ANESTHESIOLOGIST AND FORMER STATE LEGISLATOR, was appointed by Governor Rick Perry as executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Janek, who served in both the Texas House and Senate, is replacing retiring commissioner Tom Suehs. He will oversee federal and state funds directed to Medicaid and other programs serving the needy, children, elderly and disabled, with a combined annual budget of $30 billion.
REPRESENTATIVE LINDA LAWSON (D) BECAME THE FIRST FEMALE TO LEAD A CAUCUS IN THE INDIANA HOUSE after she was elected minority leader in July. Lawson replaces long-time minority leader B. Patrick Bauer, who was removed from his position by a Democratic caucus that lost 12 seats in the 2010 election. Bauer’s colleagues believe a change in leadership is necessary to improve Democrats’ chances at the polls in November. Bauer, who has served in the legislature since 1970, was originally defiant but ultimately accepted Lawson, a former police captain, as a good choice. “Being minority leader is a very difficult job, and I think she can handle it,” he told indystar.com.
L. ALLAN GREEN, A LEGISLATIVE STAFFER IN THREE STATES AND NCSL COMMITTEE MEMBER, died July 1 after a brief battle with cancer. Green was an analyst with the Colorado Legislative Council, director of the Legislative Research Office in Oregon, and director of the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research. Following a distinguished legislative career, he became director of the Institute for Representative Government, helping train government workers in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Green received the NCSL Research and Committee Staff Section Staff Achievement Award in 1998 for his enduring contributions to the professional development of legislative staff.
A RECORD 1,078 WOMEN HAVE WON THEIR PRIMARIES FOR STATE LEGISLATIVE SEATS in the current election cycle, according to the 2012 Project, a nonpartisan endeavor by Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics. But the jury is still out, as the results reflect only 23 states and represent fewer than half of the state legislative seats up for election. Forty-four states have 6,012 state legislative seats up for grabs this year. A record number of women were elected to state legislatures in 2006, with 1,009 nominees in the same 23 states reviewed in this year’s project. State legislative primaries end Sept. 13 with New York’s. Results are difficult to predict because of the new seats created by redistricting.
DEMOCRATS WILL SURELY CONTINUE TO CONTROL THE MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE, as nearly three-quarters of incumbents will face no Republican opposition in November. Of the 155 Democrats in the 200-member House and Senate, only 42 will be challenged by Republican opponents. The GOP more than doubled its numbers in the 2010 election, and 14 of the freshman Republicans will face Democratic challengers in the fall.
FORMER ALABAMA REPRESENTATIVE TERRY SPICER (D), businessman Ronald Gilley and lobbyist Jarrod Massey were sentenced to prison in July in Montgomery, Ala., for bribery. Spicer was sentenced to 57 months, Gilley to 80 months, and Massey to 65 months. Spicer pleaded guilty to a single count of federal bribery for soliciting and taking gifts from Gilley and Massey, including cash, an all-expenses-paid ski trip, a large campaign contribution and free concert tickets. Gilley and Massey pleaded guilty to a wide-ranging conspiracy to bribe several members of the Alabama Legislature with an end goal of passing pro-gambling legislation.
LONGTIME TEXAS SENATOR JEFF WENTWORTH (R) was defeated in a hard-fought primary race by physician and tea-party favorite Donna Campbell. Among 16 runoffs in the House, two Republican House leaders—Representatives Sid Miller and Chuck Hopson—also lost their primaries. Another tea-party victor was former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who defeated Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. The loss of legislative leaders will be a challenge for House Speaker Joe Straus, but Representative Todd Hunter, chairman of the House Calendars Committee, told the Associated Press that he believes Straus will win another term as speaker. In congratulating the runoff winners, Straus encouraged new House members to “deliver results on issues that affect voters’ daily lives, such as the availability of good jobs and the quality of public education.”