Ken Hollis

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Jesse Kendrick "Ken" Hollis, Jr.
Ken Hollis.jpg
Former State Senator Ken Hollis of Jefferson Parish
Louisiana State Senate District 9 (Jefferson Parish)
In office
1982 – January 14, 2008
Preceded by M. Joseph Tiemann
Succeeded by Stephen Joseph "Steve" Scalise
Jefferson Parish Council
In office
1980–1982
Personal details
Born (1942-03-13)March 13, 1942
Alexandria, Rapides Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died September 10, 2010(2010-09-10) (aged 68)
Jefferson, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
Resting place Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Judith Beasley Hollis (divorced)

(2) Diane Woods Hollis (married 1999-his death)

Children From first marriage:

Jesse "Trey" Hollis, III, of Fayetteville, Arkansas
Michael Hollis of New Orleans
Paul Hollis of Mandeville

Alma mater Bolton High School

Louisiana Tech University

Occupation Insurance executive
Religion Presbyterian
(1) Hollis, as a Louisiana lawmaker, was a generally fiscal conservative Republican who also supported gay rights. The latter position brought him into conflict with a Republican colleague, former Senator Phil Short.

(2) Hollis endorsed as his short-term state Senate successor Steve Scalise, a strong opponent of gay rights.

Jesse Kendrick Hollis, Jr., known as Ken Hollis (March 13, 1942 – September 10, 2010), was a Republican Party member of the Louisiana State Senate from Metairie in Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs. He served from 1982, when he won a special election to fill an unexpired term, until he was term-limited, effective January 14, 2008.

In 2003, Hollis launched an exploratory campaign for governor but never filed his papers even though he claimed that his early polling was encouraging. He instead endorsed intraparty rival Hunt Downer of Houma, the seat of Terrebonne Parish in south Louisiana. Downer finished in sixth place in the jungle primary, and the office ultimately went to the Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette. Because he did not run for governor, Hollis was able to secure his sixth full term in the state Senate District 9.

As his Senate successor, Hollis endorsed Republican State Representative Steve Scalise, a conservative who won the seat in the primary held on October 20, 2007, but soon resigned to become a U.S. representative.

Early years, education, military[edit]

Hollis was born and reared in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish and the largest city in central Louisiana. He graduated in 1960 from Bolton High School. One of his classmates was former Mayor Edward G. "Ned" Randolph, Jr., who served in the state Senate from 1976 to 1984. Their Senate tenures hence coincided only during the short session to which Hollis was elected in 1982. Hollis thereafter received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana.

From 1967 to 1974, he was a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve.

A Presbyterian, Hollis was a board member of United Christian Charities.

Hollis was first married to the former Judith Beasley (1942–2007), who was living in Monroe at the time of her death.[1] She was the mother of his three sons, Jesse K. "Trey" Hollis, III, Michael Hollis, and Paul Hollis. After a divorce, Hollis in 1999 wed the former Diane Woods, who had from a previous marriage three daughters, Heather, Jennifer, and Casie.[2]

After graduation from Louisiana Tech, Hollis entered the insurance business as MassMutual's regional group manager, a position that he retained until 1981. Hollis then served as MassMutual's general agent for the State of Louisiana until he retired from that position in January 1998. He was since the president and chief executive officer of Hollis Companies which specialize in employee benefits consulting. [2]

Prior to his Senate tenure, he was an elected member of the Jefferson Parish governing council from 1980 to 1982.

Legislative activities[edit]

In his last Senate term, Hollis was chairman of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and a member of the Judiciary "B" and Retirement committees

Hollis was unopposed in his bids for re-election in 1983, 1987, 1991, and 1999. In 1995, he defeated fellow Republican Greg Reinhard in the primary, 29,240 (80 percent) to 7,361 (20 percent). In 2003, Hollis defeated fellow Republican Polly Thomas in the primary, 19,570 (61 percent) to 12,504 (39 percent).

In the Senate, Hollis supported Planned Parenthood of America and one of its opposite interest groups, the Louisiana Family Forum, each approximately 33 percent of the time. Two other rival interest groups, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the AFL-CIO each graded Hollis between 70 and 80 percent in his last legislative years. The Christian Coalition rated him 55 percent. The Louisiana Electorate of Gays And Lesbians gave him a 40% grade for the 1993-1995 period.[3] The Louisiana Association of Educators rated him from 40 to 90 percent, depending on the year.

The Jefferson Beautification Council award him the "Frederick Law Olmsted Award," named for Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City. In 1985, 1987, and 1993, he was named "Senator of the Year for Jefferson Parish" by the interest group, the Alliance for Good Government.[2] He was designated as "Man of the Year" in 1984 by the New Orleans chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He is a past president of the Louisiana State Employees' Group Benefits Program.

In 1993, Hollis, along with fellow lawmakers Kernan "Skip" Hand, Jim Donelon, and Steve Theriot, all of the New Orleans suburbs, admitted to having given Tulane University scholarships to their children. Legislators are allowed under an 1884 law to designate one Tulane scholarship recipient per year, but the practice of giving such awards, totaling $17,000 in 1993 dollars, to family members had been previously unknown.[4]

As a senator, Hollis championed the removal of tolls on the south shore of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. He was an advocate for the Jefferson Performing Arts Society. As commerce committee chairman, he worked for economic development. He was involved in the negotiations to retain the New Orleans Saints in the state, the completion of Harrah's Casino, and legislation establishing the Louisiana Lottery. He successfully fought an earnings tax on non-residents working in the city of New Orleans.[2]

Supporting gay rights[edit]

In 1997, Hollis spoke out on the Senate floor against an anti gay marriage amendment to the Louisiana constitution. "I'm absolutely convinced that those people who lead the alternate lifestyle do so because of genetics," Hollis said. He went on to say that he would not condemn their lifestyle, nor would he "vote for a constitutional amendment to bring it to a vote to divide our people..."[5] The amendment, offered up by Sen. Phil Short, would have brought the issue of marriage between people of the same sex in Louisiana, to referendum in the state. After a number of senators spoke in opposition to the legislation, Short tabled the measure.

In 2001, Hollis acknowledged that his son, Michael Hollis, is homosexual. He introduced a bill to prohibit all but the smallest businesses in Louisiana from discriminating against employees because of sexual preference.

"This was a real gut issue for me. I realized this is probably not the smartest position, politically, to take. It would have been easy for me to be somewhere else. But I just reached down deep. I voted for it. I did the right thing, and I have had a calm feeling since," Hollis told the national homosexual publication The Advocate in its June 19, 2001 issue.[6] Mike Hollis is also a Louisiana Tech graduate and at the time was a Tech administrator who feared that he could be fired from his job. He since left the university and worked with his father in providing employee benefits consulting to both large and small companies in the region.

The Senate committee voted 3-2 to send the bill to the full chamber, where it was defeated.

Hollis' stance on both bills made him a rare Republican favorite with the interest group the Louisiana Electorate of Gays And Lesbians.

Paul Hollis[edit]

Meanwhile, another Hollis son, Paul Hollis of Mandeville was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from the 104th District on October 22, 2011, to succeed the term-limited Nita Hutter.[7]

Paul Hollis is a collector of rare coins, having begun with Blanchard and Company of New Orleans, one of the nation's largest rare coin firms. He formerly hosted "The Coin Vault," a nationally televised program that reached 60 million homes on the Shop at Home television network. He eventually started his own coin firm and specializes ancient coins that circulated during the lifetime of Jesus Christ.

Death[edit]

Hollis died at the age of sixty-eight of metastatic neuroendocrine cancer at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, Louisiana. Services were held on September 13, 2010, at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home. Interment followed at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Obituary of J. Ken Hollis, Jr.". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ [1], Project VoteSmart. Accessed October 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Dyer, Scott (17 June 1993). "Scholarship Controversy Grows". The Advocate (Baton Rouge). p. 1-A. 
  5. ^ "Louisiana Anti-Marriage Bill Defeated a Second Time Without a Single Vote Cast," May 8, 1997, The Queer Resources Directory. Accessed October 28, 2013.
  6. ^ "Big Hearted on the Bayou", The Advocate. Accessed October 28, 2013.
  7. ^ "Cromer, Burns re-elected; Hollis to fill new District 104 seat". St. Tammany News. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 

References[edit]