Joe Harrison (Louisiana politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Joseph Arthur "Joe" Harrison
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 51 (Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary, and Terrebonne parishes)
In office
January 2008 – January 11, 2016
Preceded by Carla Blanchard Dartez
Succeeded by Beryl Amedee
Personal details
Born (1952-02-15) February 15, 1952 (age 65)
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Boudreaux Harrison
Residence Napoleonville, Louisiana
Alma mater Nicholls State University
Occupation Businessman

Joseph Arthur Harrison, known as Joe Harrison (born February 15, 1952),[1] is an American financial planner from Napoleonville, Louisiana, who is a Republican former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 51 in Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary, and Terrebonne parishes.[2] He formerly served on the board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group of state legislators and private businesspersons.[3]


In the 1995 general election, Harrison was the Republican candidate for the District 51 seat against the Democrat Dudley Anthony "Butch" Gautreaux of Morgan City in St. Mary Parish. Gautreaux, subsequently a state senator, handily prevailed with 8,457 votes (69 percent) to Harrison's 3,809 ballots (31 percent).[4]

Harrison was elected to the House in 2007, having upset in the second round of balloting the Democrat Carla Blanchard Dartez of Morgan City, whom he had trailed in the primary by seven percentage points.[5] In the lowered-turnout general election, Harrison prevailed with 4,338 votes (57 percent) to Dartez's 3,276 (43 percent).[6] Dartez lost African American support between the primary and the general election when she called campaign worker Hazel Boykin "Buckwheat", a term considered demeaning within the black community."[7] Even before the qualifying period in September, Dartez received a summons for improper lane usage after she struck pedestrian with her vehicle. She failed a field sobriety test but passed a later Breathalyzer test.[7]

Harrison holds a degree in business management from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He serves on the House committees on Appropriations, the Judiciary, Natural Resources and Environment, and the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.[2]

2011 legislative session[edit]

In 2011, Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives Jim Tucker appointed Harrison to the Gulf States and Atlantic States Regional Task Force, an initiative of the interest groups, the Southern Legislative Conference and the Council of State Governments. The task force addresses the interest of fifteen coastal states in their dealings with the U.S. government in meeting disasters.[8]

Near the end of the 2011 legislative session, Harrison joined the House majority in voting down an "anti-bullying" bill that would seek to halt abuses in public schools. Critics, including the Louisiana Family Forum, said the legislation would be misconstrued and used to promote homosexual life-styles. In the House debate over the bill, Harrison said that "principals and teachers are almost getting to the point where they have to be a psychologist."[9]

Harrison also sponsored legislation seeking to relocate the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, on the grounds that such a move would make the capital city a "medical mecca." His House Bill 507 died in the House Health and Welfare Committee. The New Orleans Times-Picayune published an editorial urging Harrison to drop his idea entirely: "With any luck, this will be the last time a lawmaker tries to hijack the medical school."[10]

In 2011, Harrison introduced an immigration enforcement proposal which would have required providers of public benefits, including social services and college scholarships, to verify citizenship of the beneficiaries. The bill further sought to require police to check the citizenship of any arrested person before release. Harrison withdrew the bill after hearing contrary testimony from law enforcement officers and immigration rights advocates, including the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.[11]

Harrison sponsored a congressional reapportionment plan which, with the backing of Speaker Tucker, would have pitted Republican U.S. Representatives John C. Fleming and Rodney Alexander, whose home cities of Minden and Jonesboro in north Louisiana are only fifty miles apart. Harrison sought to preserve the south Louisiana districts of Jeff Landry and Charles Boustany though both revised districts would have extended into central Louisiana. The legislature ultimately consolidated Landry and Boustany into the revised Louisiana's 3rd congressional district, and the two opposed each other in 2012. The state lost a congressional seat as a result of some population losses and counting procedures in the 2010 census.[12]

As a member of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, Harrison opposed efforts by the administration by Governor Bobby Jindal to use $147 million in federal education funds which had been promised to local school districts. Superintendents from throughout the state railed against the plan, which Harrison called an "affront." [13]

Harrison was handily reelected to the House in the primary held on October 22, 2011. He defeated the Independent Howard John Castay, Jr., 6,226 (71.8 percent) to 2,448 (28.2 percent).[14]

Removal from House Appropriations Committee[edit]

On November 2, Speaker Chuck Kleckley of Lake Charles removed Harrison and a conservative colleague, Cameron Henry of Jefferson Parish, from the House Appropriations Committee after the two had challenged Governor Jindal regarding state expenditures, including the use of one-time funds in the budget[15] and the privatization of the Louisiana Office of Group Benefits in Baton Rouge, which had been established through the efforts of the late state budget director Ralph Perlman.[16] Harrison was particularly critical of Speaker Kleckley for his failure to defend lawmakers in conflict with the governor. Cameron was formerly vice chairman of the committee.[15]

2015 reelection defeat[edit]

Harrison lost his runoff election on November 21, 2015. In the October 24 primary, he obtained 3,070 votes (36.7 percent). The leading candidate, Beryl Amedee, another Republican, finished with 3,391 votes (40.6 percent). The remaining 1,899 votes (22.7 percent) went to the Democrat Howard J. Castay, Jr.[17] In the second election, Amedee prevailed, 4,101 votes (52 percent) to 3,783 (48 percent).[18]


  1. ^ U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.), 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Representative Joe Harrison: Republican District 51". Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ Board of Directors - ALEC |accessdate=April 17, 2012
  4. ^ "Louisiana general election returns, November 18, 1995". Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Louisiana legislative primary returns, October 20, 2011". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Louisiana legislative general election returns, November 17, 2007". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Candidate Apologizes For 'Buckwheat' Remark". November 12, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Representative Joe Harrison Appointed to Gulf Coast and Atlantic States Regional Task Force, March 16, 2011". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Anti-bullying bill killed by La. House". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Louisiana lawmaker should drop efforts to move New Orleans medical school: An editorial". New Orleans Times-Picayune. May 8, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  11. ^ ""Lawmaker defers controversial immigration bill," May 25, 2011". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  12. ^ "LaPolitics by John Maginnis: "New congressional districting plans emerge"". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ ""Lawmakersshow some backbone," editorial, November 29, 2010". Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, October 22, 2011". Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Booted lawmakers lash out at Speaker". Monroe News Star. Retrieved November 3, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Ralph Perlman". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Results for Election Date: 11/21/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Carla Blanchard Dartez
Louisiana State Representative for
District 51 (Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary, and Terrebonne parishes)

Joseph Arthur "Joe" Harrison

Succeeded by
Beryl Amedee