Jim Morris (Louisiana Politician)

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Another "Morris" served in the Louisiana House of Representatives: Jay Morris, a Republican from Ouachita Parish. Term-limited in the House, Jay Morris became a state senator on January 13, 2020.
James Hollis "Jim" Morris​

Louisiana State Representative for District 1 (Caddo and Bossier parishes)​
In office
2007​ – January 13, 2020​
Preceded by Roy McArthur “Hoppy” Hopkins​ (D)
Succeeded by Danny McCormick (R)

Caddo Parish Commissioner​
In office
1996​ – 2007​
Preceded by John "Johnny" Reid​
Succeeded by Douglas Dominick​

Born May 3, 1954​
Arkansas, USA
Political party Republican​-turned-Independent) (2018)
Spouse(s) Kellie Morris​
Children Kourtney Avalon Morris​

Krispen Morris​

Residence Belcher, Caddo Parish, Louisiana ​
Alma mater Smackover (Arkansas) High School​

Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Arkansas)​

Occupation Oil and natural gas business​man
Religion Baptist

James Hollis Morris, known as Jim Morris (born May 3, 1954), is a businessman from Caddo Parish in northwestern Louisiana, who is a former state representative for District 1, which encompasses the northern portions of both Caddo and neighboring Bossier parishes. Elected in 2007 as a Republican, he switched in 2018 to Independent affiliation in the last of his three terms in the legislature, but he did not announce the switch for a year.​[1]

In 2007, Morris became only the second Republican to hold the District 1 House seat, having won a special election to succeed the Democrat Roy McArthur "Hoppy" Hopkins (1943-2006) of Oil City, who died in office at the age of sixty-three. The previous Republican representative for District I was Bruce Lynn of Gilliam in Caddo Parish, a banker who served from 1976 to 1988. Morris resides in Belcher, but his district office is in Oil City, north of Shreveport.​

Background

Morris is a native of Arkansas, where his father was a deputy sheriff and his mother worked in a factory.[2] He graduated in 1972 from Smackover High School in Smackover in Union County near El Dorado. In 1976, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in professional education from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. For his entire working career, Morris has been involved not in education but in the petroleum and natural gas business.[3]

Morris and his wife, Kellie, a native of Vivian in Caddo Parish, have two daughters. Mrs. Morris is the tourist information representative and events coordinator at the Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum in Oil City.[4]

Election history

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.[5] In the general election on November 18, he unseated Reid, 3,265 (61.5 percent) to 2,043 (38.5 percent).[6]​ ​ 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).[7] Morris was unopposed for the commission seat in 2003. In the 2007 general election, Douglas Dominick of Vivian was elected to a full term succeeding Morris on the Caddo commission.​ ​ On February 24, 2007, Morris won a large victory in the special election for the seat formerly held by Roy Hopkins. 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.[8] In the campaign Morris procured the endorsement of The Shreveport Times because of his experience on the Caddo Parish Commission.[9] 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.[10]

Motorcycle helmet issue

​ In the 2009 legislative session, Representative 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 Republican former Governor Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., 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.[11]

On June 3, 2009, the bill passed the full House, 64-33, but the measure thereafter 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, then the 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.[12]

House record and ratings

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 House District 1.[13]

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 ... "[14]

Morris and then Representative Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, his frequent legislative ally, were both members of the Commission on Streamling Government, chaired by departing state Senator Jack Donahue.[15]

Morris served on these House committees on (1) Appropriations, (2) Budget, (3) Homeland Security, (4) Executive Committee, and (5) Natural Resources and Environment. He also sits on the joint committees for the Budget and Homeland Security and the Louisiana Rural Caucus.[3]

In June 2012, then House Speaker Chuck Kleckley of Lake Charles removed Morris from the vice-chairmanship of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee after Morris criticized Governor Jindal's budget proposals, including the education bills.[16]

Morris's legislative ratings have ranged from 67 to 73 percent from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. In 2012, he was rated 83 percent by the National Federation of Independent Business. Since 2010, he has been ranked 100 percent by the conservative Louisiana Family Forum. Louisiana Right to Life has scored Morris 100 percent for every year that he has been a legislator. In 2013 and 2014, the Louisiana Association of Educators rated him 58 percent both years. In 2006, he was rated 80 percent by the Humane Society.[17]

In 2014, Morris supported 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 against 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 co-sponsored the establishment of surrogacy contracts but did not vote on final passage. He did not vote on the issue of reducing the penalties for the possession of marijuana. He voted for lifetime concealed carry gun permits but did not vote on concealed-carry privileges in restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages. He supported the prohibition against making information about gun permit holders a matter of public record. He voted in 2013 against an increase in judicial pay, which passed the House, 78-18, and he opposed the removal of the mandatory retirement age for judges, which was rejected 63-33.[18]

In 2012, Morris voted to prohibit the use of telephones while driving; the ban passed the House, 68-29. He voted in 2011 against restricting the use of other hand-held cellular devices for driving. He opposed tax incentives for attracting a National Basketball Association team to Louisiana but supported 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 co-sponsored drug testing of certain welfare recipients; the bill passed the House, 65 to 26. He opposed changes in the teacher tenure law. In 2011, he voted against parole eligibility for elderly inmates; the measure passed the House, 65-25. He opposed the permanent tax on cigarettes and voted for the establishment of a commission to develop a plan for ending 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. Morris opposed the anti-bullying measure for public schools; the disputed bill failed, 43 to 54.[18]

Morris handily won his third full House term in the primary election held on October 24, 2015. He defeated a Democrat using the strange ballot name "Mike Chicken Commander Boyter" of Vivian.[19] Morris polled 6,699 votes (79.2 percent) to Boyter's 1,755 (20.8 percent).[20]

Morris and legislative colleagues, Republican Mike Johnson of Bossier Parish and Patrick O. Jefferson, an African-American Democrat from Arcadia in Bienville Parish, were expected to run in 2016 for the seat in the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana's 4th congressional district vacated by Republican John Fleming, a physician and businessman from Minden in Webster Parish, who instead ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate seat vacated by Republican David Vitter.[21]​ Mike Johnson won the election to succeed Fleming; Morris did not enter the race. ​

References

  1. Tyler Bridges (June 18, 2019). State Rep. Jim Morris quietly slips ouf of GOP, trimming Republican advantage in Louisiana House. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on October 15, 2019.
  2. Jim Morris for State Representative --Biography. Retrieved on July 14, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020 (Caddo Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on October 15, 2019.
  4. Jim Morris for State Representative --Family life. Retrieved on July 14, 2009; no longer on-line.
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 21, 1995.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 18, 1995.
  7. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 23, 1999.
  8. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, February 24, 2007.
  9. LA-House, LA-Gov, LA-Sen: Is the Louisiana Democratic Party Serious About Survival?. swingstateproject.com. Retrieved on October 15, 2019.
  10. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 2007.
  11. Mike Hasten and Richard P. Sharkey (May 27, 2009; no longer on-line). "Freedom of choice': Panel OKs motorcycle helmet law repeal; Jindal would sign it". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 14, 2009.
  12. Senate Panel Rejects Cycle Helmet Repeal. The Natchez (Mississippi) Democrat. Retrieved on July 14, 2009.
  13. Governor Bobby Jindal Announces Rep. Jim Morris as chair of the Interstate-49 North Extension Feasibility and Funding Task Force. gov.louisiana.gov. Retrieved on July 14, 2009; no longer on-line.
  14. Rachel Weiner (May 19, 2009). Louisiana House Unknowingly Votes to Override Gov. Jindal’s Stimulus Rejection. ’’The Huffington Post’’. Retrieved on July 14, 2009; no longer on-line.
  15. Commission on Streamlining Government. legis.state.la.us. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  16. Analysts: Crossing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has consequences. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on June 25, 2012.
  17. James "Jim" Morris's Ratings and Endorsements. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on October 15, 2019.
  18. 18.0 18.1 James "Jim" Morris's Voting Records. Project Vote Smart (October 15, 2019).
  19. Candidates Qualified in Statewide Elections. KEEL (AM). Retrieved on September 11, 2015.
  20. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 24, 2015.
  21. Greg Hilburn (January 6, 2016). 4th District field inches toward gate. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on January 7, 2016.

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