James R. Fannin

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James Roy "Jim" Fannin
Louisiana State Representative for
District 13 (Bienville, Jackson, Ouachita, and Winn parishes)
In office
2003 – January 2016
Preceded by Rodney Alexander
Succeeded by Jack McFarland
Louisiana State Senator for District 35 (Grant, Jackson, Lincoln, Ouachita, Rapides, and Winn parishes)
Assumed office
January 2016
Preceded by Robert Kostelka
Personal details
Born (1949-05-30) May 30, 1949 (age 67)
Winn Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democratic-turned-Republican (2013)
Spouse(s) Kitty Davis Fannin
Relations Jimmie Davis (uncle by marriage)
Children James Matthew Fannin
Residence

Jonesboro

Jackson Parish
Alma mater

Winnfield Senior High School
Northwestern State University

Louisiana Tech University
Occupation Businessman; former educator
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch Louisiana National Guard
Fannin successfully pushed for passage in 2009 of a Louisiana law which permits high school students to follow a "career diploma" path, instead of pursuing traditional studies geared toward higher education.

James Roy Fannin (born May 30, 1949), known as Jim Fannin, is the Republican member of the Louisiana State Senate for District 35, which encompasses the parishes of Grant, Jackson, Lincoln, Ouachita, Rapides, and Winn. He won the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 2015, to succeed the term-limited Republican Robert Kostelka.

Fannin used to be the chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the Louisiana House of Representatives. A former educator and an active businessman in Jonesboro, the seat of government of Jackson Parish in North Louisiana. In 2003, Fannin was elected as a Democrat to represent House District 13 (Jackson, Bienville, Ouachita and Winn parishes. He succeeded Rodney Alexander of Quitman in Jackson Parish, who resigned to become the United States Representative for Louisiana's 5th congressional district, a position Alexander has since vacated. Fannin was also the chairman of the Louisiana Rural Caucus.[1]

On July 11, 2013, Fannin announced that he had switched his registration to the Republican Party. Fannin said that his former party had "moved too far left" for him to remain within the ranks, even as a Blue Dog Democrat.[2] Days after Fannin's defection, Senator Rick Ward, III, of Iberville Parish near Baton Rouge also switched parties.[3]

State senate campaign[edit]

Fannin defeated fellow Republican Stewart Cathey, Jr., 13,430 votes (52.9 percent) to 11,956 (47.1 percent).[4] In announcing his Senate candidacy, Fannin said that he had received positive response from voters in the Senate district. A large part of his constituency is based in Ouachita Parish.[5]

Cathey is a combat veteran, a small businessman from Monroe, a lifelong resident of Ouachita Parish, and a self-proclaimed conservative Republican.[6]

Background[edit]

Fannin is one of four children born in Winn Parish to John Thomas Fannin (1914–2003) and the former Mollie Jean Ray (born ca. 1924). The senior Fannin worked for a time for Brown and Root Construction Company and later farmed and engaged in carpentry.[7] Fannin is married to the former Kitty Davis (born September 15, 1951), a niece of the late Democratic Governor Jimmie Davis. Their son is James Matthew Fannin (born April 30, 1974).

In 1967, Fannin graduated from Winnfield Senior High School. One of his classmates was a future legislative colleague, State Senator Mike Smith, a Winnfield automobile dealer.[8] After high school, Fannin first studied agricultural education at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, but the program was abolished before he could complete his studies. He therefore transferred to Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, where he met his future wife. While in college, Fannin was elected to the Winn Parish Democratic Executive Committee. He also was a member for seven years of the Louisiana National Guard. He first taught agriculture at Sikes High School in Sikes in Winn Parish before relocating to Jackson Parish, where he owns and operates Fannin Feeds.[9]

Earlier election contests[edit]

Prior to his legislative service, Fannin served at least one term on the Jackson Parish Police Jury, the parish governing council. He won the Ward 2 seat in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 21, 1995.[10] In the legislative special election held on February 15, 2003, Fannin, with 2,092 votes (30.8 percent) led by 44 votes over fellow Democrat William Todd Culpepper (born June 30, 1969), also of Jonesboro, who received 2,048 votes (30.2 percent). Three other candidates held the remaining, but critical, 39 percent of the ballots.[11] In the runoff election on March 15, Fannin prevailed, 3,596 (56.1 percent) to Culpepper's 2,815 votes (43.9 percent).[12]

The special election was for a term of less than one calendar year. Therefore, Fannin ran again in the regular primary election on October 4. Again in a multi-candidate field, he was forced into a second round of balloting, called the general election in Louisiana, with Todd Culpepper. Fannin led with 6,445 votes (42.8 percent) to Culpepper's 3,997 (26.5 percent).[13] In the November 15 general election, Fannin again prevailed over Culpepper, 8,061 (55.6 percent) to 6,447 (44.4 percent).[14] In 2007, Fannin won resoundingly over another Democrat, Jason E. Cook, 10,551 (78.6 percent) to 2,879 (21.4 percent).[15][16]

Legislative leadership[edit]

Fannin was appointed chairman of the Appropriations Committee by Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. While Fannin was seeking to be named the representative from the 5th congressional district on the House Appropriations Committee, he was contacted by Jindal as well as then House Speaker Jim Tucker of Terrytown in Jefferson Parish, who offered him the committee chairmanship.[9]

Fannin described the post as "a huge responsibility.... [In] many ways the Appropriations chairmanship is on a footing equal to Speaker, because it originates and passes all bills relating to spending. And it is important for [the less-populated] North Louisiana, which often feels overlooked in dealings in the legislature."[9]

Appropriations committee membership totals nineteen, of which seven are elected, one each from the seven congressional districts, by fellow House members within the congressional district. Others are appointed by the House Speaker. Appropriations is the only House committee which elects a portion of its own membership, with others being appointed by the Speaker.[9]

In the 2004-2008 session, Fannin served on the Transportation Committee, having ended his service as chairman. He tackled numerous measures involving forestry and logging. He also served on the Agriculture Committee, where he planned to continue sitting as an ad hoc non-voting member. Reelected in 2011, Fannin will be term-limited in the 2015 primaries.[9]

Reflecting his background in education, Fannin was the author in the House of the "career diploma" law that was signed in 2009 by Governor Jindal.[17] The legislation permits high school students to receive a lower-tier diploma by taking less rigorous courses if they do not intend to continue their studies after graduation. Fannin predicted that his plan would reduce the state's school dropout rate,[18] which was the highest in the nation at 8.4 percent for the 2005–2006 school year.[19] The measure drew opposition from the Campaign for High School Equity, a Rockefeller Foundation program in Washington, D.C. More than one third of high school students in Louisiana leave before receiving diplomas. CHSE said that the new measure "allows students fifteen and older to opt out of the standard curriculum with parental consent" and permits eighth graders to advance to the ninth grade without passing the state standardized tests. The CHSE claims that this will mean lowered academic standards that will disproportionately affect low-income and minority students.[18]

Legislative record[edit]

Fannin's legislative rating in 2015 was 32 from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. In 2015, he was rated 78 percent by the National Federation of Independent Business. In 2012, the conservative Louisiana Family Forum scored him 73 percent. Louisiana Right to Life has rated him 100 percent for every year he has been in the legislature since 2008. In 2013 and 2014, the Louisiana Association of Educators rated him 50 percent both years. In 2006, the Humane Society scored Fannin 73 percent.[20][21]

In 2014, Representative Fannin voted for the requirement that abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges near their clinics; the bill was approved by the full House, 88-5. In 2014, he voted for the extension of time for implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He voted against the prohibition of the transportation of dogs in the beds of pick-up trucks while traveling on interstate highways; the measure passed the House, 53-34. He voted against the requirement that companies must give notice when they engage in hydraulic fracking. He voted against the repeal of the anti-sodomy laws. He voted for the establishment of surrogacy contracts. He voted against reducing the penalties for the possession of marijuana. He did not vote on the issue of lifetime concealed carry gun permits but voted for concealed-carry privileges in restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages. He voted against making information about permit holders a matter of public record. In 2010, he voted to allow handguns in churches for protection of the congregation. He voted in 2013 against an increase in judicial pay but supported the removal of the mandatory retirement age for judges.[22]

In 2012, Fannin voted against the prohibition of the use of telephones and hand-held cellular devices while driving; the measure banning telephone use in such cases nevertheless passed the House, 68-29. He voted for tax incentives for attracting a National Basketball Association team to Louisiana and supported state income tax deductions for individuals who contribute to scholarship funds. He voted to reduce the number of hours that polling locations remain open; Louisiana has traditionally had 14-hour polling days. He supported drug testing of certain welfare recipients, which passed the House, 65 to 26. He supported changes in the teacher tenure law. In 2011, he voted against parole eligibility for elderly inmates; the measure nevertheless passed the House, 65-25. He voted for the permanent tax on cigarettes and voted against the establishment of a commission to develop a path to end the state income tax. He supported redistricting plans for the Louisiana State Senate and Louisiana's six seats in the United States House of Representatives. He voted against the anti-bullying measure, which lost in a House vote, 43-54.[22]

During the 2015 legislative session, Fannin authored seven bills which increased taxes on individuals and businesses.[23]

Republican Jack McFarland, owner of McFarland Timber Company, the 2008 "Logger of the Year", and the president of the Winn Parish Police Jury, will succeed Fannin in the District 13 House seat.[24] McFarland defeated Democrat Phillip Lawrence of Quitman in the same primary election in which Fannin defeated Stewart Cathey for the state Senate.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rep. James R. "Jim" Fannin (LA)". www.votesmart.org. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Greg Hilburn, "Appropriations Chairman Fannin switches to Republican Party"". Monroe News-Star, July 11, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ "State senator Rick Ward III switches parties". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Rep. Jim Fannin says he will seek La. Senate seat". KNOE-TV. January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Stewart Cathey, Jr., seeks Senate District 35 seat". Alexandria Town Talk. April 3, 2015. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ "April 2003 obituaries". "Winn Parish Enterprise". Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Tom Kelly, "New trade school OK'd in Winn: 'Gold Star' in career, says retiring State Senator Mike Smith"". thepineywoods.com. Retrieved October 29, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Tom Kelly, "Fannin to chair House Appropriations: New administration takes office as 'mirror image' from 80 years ago"". thepineywoods.com. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 21, 1995". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Louisiana special election returns, February 15, 2003". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2003. 
  12. ^ "Louisiana special election returns, March 15, 2003". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 4, 2003". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Louisiana election returns, November 15, 2003". 
  15. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 20, 2007". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  16. ^ Fannin's rival Todd Culpepper later switched to "No Party" designation and lost a race for the Ward 1 seat on the Jackson Parish Police Jury in the general election held on November 17, 2007 to the Republican Tom Goss, 51.3 to 48.7 percent. In 2011, however, Culpepper unseated Goss, 58.5 to 41.5 percent, to claim the police jury seat.
  17. ^ Largen, Stephen (2009-07-03). "Jindal signs career diploma bills in West Monroe" (PDF). ShreveportTimes.com. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  18. ^ a b ""Some Give 'Career Diploma' Failing Grade", July 8, 2009". neworleanscitybusiness.wordpress.com. Retrieved November 9, 2009. 
  19. ^ High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2007 (Report). National Center for Education Statistics. 2009-09-23. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  20. ^ "James "Jim" R. Fannin's Ratings and Endorsements". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  21. ^ http://labi.org/assets/media/vote_record_pdf/FINAL_2015_LABI_Scorecard_715.pdf
  22. ^ a b "James "Jim" R. Fannin's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. May 16, 2015. 
  23. ^ http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillSearchList.aspx?srch=a
  24. ^ Greg Hilburn. "Winn Police Jury president announces for House race". Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Rodney Alexander
Louisiana State Representative for
District 13 (Bienville, Jackson, Ouachita, and Winn parishes)

James Roy "Jim" Fannin
2003 – 2016

Succeeded by
Jack McFarland
Louisiana Senate
Preceded by
Robert Kostelka
Louisiana State Senator for District 35
(Grant, Jackson, Lincoln, Ouachita, Rapides, and Winn parishes)

James Roy "Jim" Fannin
2016 –

Succeeded by
Incumbent