Jim Morris (Louisiana politician)

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James Hollis "Jim" Morris
Louisiana State Representative from District 1 (Caddo and Bossier parishes)
In office
2007 – Incumbent
Preceded by Roy McArthur “Hoppy” Hopkins
Caddo Parish Commissioner
In office
1996–2007
Preceded by John "Johnny" Reid
Succeeded by Douglas Dominick
Personal details
Born (1954-05-03) May 3, 1954 (age 60)
Arkansas, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kellie Morris
Children Kourtney Avalon Morris

Krispen Morris

Residence Belcher, Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Occupation Oil and natural gas business
Religion Baptist

James Hollis Morris, known as Jim Morris (born May 3, 1954), is a businessman from Oil City in northern Caddo Parish, Louisiana, who is a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. His District 1 encompasses the northern portions of both Caddo and neighboring Bossier Parish. In 2007, Morris became only the second member of his party to hold his legislative seat, having won a special election to succeed the Democrat Roy McArthur “Hoppy” Hopkins of Oil City, who died in office. The previous Republican representative from District I is retired banker Bruce Lynn of Gilliam, who served from 1976-1988. Morris resides in Belcher, but his district office is in Oil City.

Early life and nonpolitical career[edit]

Morris is a native of Arkansas, where his father was a deputy sheriff and his mother worked in a factory.[1] He graduated in 1972 from Smackover High School in Smackover, Arkansas. In 1976, he received a bachelor of science degree in education from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. For his entire working career, Morris has been involved in the petroleum and natural gas business.[2]

Motorcycle helmet issue[edit]

In the 2009 legislative session, Morris, an avid motorcyclist, introduced House Bill 639 which would allow cyclists over the age of twenty-one the option of wearing helmets. A similar law had been approved and signed into law by former Republican Governor Mike Foster, but it was repealed during the tenure of his Democratic successor, Kathleen Blanco. Therefore, helmets are required by all motorcyclists in Louisiana. Blanco’s successor, Republican Bobby Jindal, endorsed Morris’ bill as a freedom-of-choice issue though Jindal said that he would personally wear a helmet if he boarded a motorcycle. The bill unanimously passed committee.[3]

On June 3, 2009, the bill passed the full House, 64-33.[4] Thereafter, the measure was shelved for the second consecutive year by the Senate Health Committee. Opponents said that safety considerations trump the freedom-of-choice. The bill had a provision that cyclists have health insurance and a certain amount of liability insurance before they could have been exempt from wearing helmets. Jimmy Faircloth, executive counsel to Governor Jindal, likened motorcycle riding to skydiving, hunting, mountain climbing, and all sports with a risk in participation. State senators unimpressed with the legislation equated the helmet requirement to the state’s strict seat belt law designed to protect people from avoidable injuries.[5]

Other legislative matters[edit]

Earlier in the 2009 legislative session, Jindal named Morris to chair the Interstate 49 North Extension Feasibility and Funding Task Force. Officials in northwestern Louisiana for years have been seeking to expand I-49 from Shreveport northward through Arkansas to Kansas City, Missouri. The issue is of particular importance to Morris’ House district.[6] Morris also supported Jindal’s opposition to accepting federal stimulus money in Louisiana. He likened the measure to a "tax increase on our businesses and one of the worst things we could do for our state's growing economy ... "[7]

Morris and Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, his frequent legislative ally, are both members of the Commission on Streamling Government, chaired by Jack Donahue.[8]

Morris serves on six House committees on (1) Appropriations, (2) Labor and Industrial Relations, (3) Natural Resources and Environment, (4) Executive Committee, (5) Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, and (6) Homeland Security. He is also a member of the Louisiana Rural Caucus.[2]

Election history[edit]

On February 24, 2007, Morris won a large victory in the special election for the former Hopkins seat. He polled 3,245 votes (69.4 percent), compared to less than 30 percent for four opponents, two from each party. The district includes twenty-eight Caddo and three Bossier precincts.[9] In the campaign Morris procured the endorsement of Shreveport Times because of his experience on the Caddo Parish Commission.[10] In the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007, Morris again won with ease over two of the same opponents that he had faced in February. He polled 7,018 votes (64 percent) to 2,968 (27.1 percent) for the Democrat Richard "Richie" Hollier and 982 (9 percent) for fellow Republican Michael Page Boyter.[11]

Prior to 2007, Morris served three terms on the Caddo Parish Commission, formerly known as the Police Jury. He initially was elected from commission District 1 on October 21, 1995. With 41.5 percent of the vote, Morris led two Democrats, incumbent John D. "Johnny" Reid of Vivian and Richard C. Latsos of Shreveport, in the nonpartisan blanket primary.[12] In the general election on November 18, 1995, he unseated Reid, 3,265 (61.5 percent) to 2,043 (38.5 percent).[13]

In 1999, Morris, with 2,280 ballots (52.4 percent) defeated the Democrat Sybil B. Walker of Oil City, who polled 2,068 votes (47.6 percent).[14] Morris was unopposed for the commission seat in 2003. In the 2007 general election, Douglas Dominick of Vivian was elected to a full term on the Caddo commission.

Removal from committee vice-chairmanship[edit]

In June 2012, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley removed Morris from the vice-chairmanship of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee after Morris criticized Governor Jindal's budget proposals, including his education bills.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Morris and his wife, Kellie, a native of Vivian, Louisiana, have two daughters. Kellie Morris is the tourist information representative and events coordinator at the Louisiana State Oil & Gas Museum in Oil City.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jim Morris for State Representative --Biography". Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Louisiana House of Representatives: Rep. James H. Morris". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Mike Hasten and Richard P. Sharkey, "'Freedom of choice': Panel OKs motorcycle helmet law repeal; Jindal would sign it," May 27, 2009". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Louisiana’s motorcycle helmet amendment breezes through state house". clutchandchrome.com. Retrieved July 14, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Senate Panel Rejects Cycle Helmet Repeal". ’’Natchez Democrat’’, Natchez, Mississippi. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Governor Bobby Jindal Announces Rep. Jim Morris as chair of the Interstate-49 North Extension Feasibility and Funding Task Force". gov.louisiana.gov. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  7. ^ Weiner, Rachel (May 19, 2009). "Louisiana House Unknowingly Votes to Override Gov. Jindal’s Stimulus Rejection". ’’Huffington Post’’. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Commission on Streamlining Government". legis.state.la.us. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Election returns, State Representative, District 1, February 24, 2007". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 14, 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "LA-House, LA-Gov, LA-Sen: Is the Louisiana Democratic Party Serious About Survival?". swingstateproject.com. Retrieved July 15, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Election returns, State Representative, District 1, October 20, 2007". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 14, 2009. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Election returns, Caddo Parish Commission, District 1, October 21, 1995". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 14, 2009. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Election returns, Caddo Parish Commissiion, District 1, October 21, 1995". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 14, 2009. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Election returns, Caddo Parish Commission, District 1, October 23, 1999". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 14, 2009. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Analysts: Crossing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has consequences". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Retrieved June 25, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Jim Morris for State Representative --Family life". Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Roy McArthur “Hoppy” Hopkins I
Louisiana State Representative from District 1 (northern Caddo Parish)

James Hollis "Jim" Morris
2007–

Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
John D. "Johnny" Reid
Caddo Parish Commissioner

James Hollis "Jim" Morris
1996–2007

Succeeded by
Douglas Dominick