In The News › Lorusso Called up to Army Duty

Oct 16, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: On the Ballot, Statewide

Lorusso Called up to Army Duty

Lorusso called up to Army duty
State representative to miss year of term
Thursday, October 16, 2008
By Ed Anderson
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE — Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, said Wednesday he will be missing from legislative action for a year starting early next spring after being placed on notice that he has been called to active Army duty at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Lorusso, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, said his stint probably will start in early February and run through early February 2010.

Lorusso is a lawyer and will be assigned as a deputy staff judge advocate supervising Army lawyers and support personnel.

The news of his call-up comes less than three weeks before voters go to the polls to vote on seven constitutional amendments, including one Lorusso authored that would allow a temporary successor to be named to his seat, which represents Lakeview and other parts of the Lakefront.

“We are a nation at war and mobilization of the Reserve forces is always a possibility,” Lorusso said. He said he did not file the measure knowing that he would be activated, only that a call-up was possible. “It is not a bill that helps me; it hurts me because I will lose my legislative income,” he said.

Under present law, if a lawmaker is called to active military duty, the district seat is temporarily left without a representative. If the proposed constitutional change passes, lawmakers would have the authority to go through a procedure to fill the opening on a temporary basis.

Besides putting the proposed change in the Constitution on the ballot, lawmakers adopted a separate mechanism to fill such an opening — only if the amendment passes. In that scenario, if a lawmaker is activated for more than 180 days, he or she would nominate three people who are qualified to fill the seat on a temporary basis.

A legislative committee would hold hearings and interview the potential replacement and possibly recommend a successor to the House Speaker or Senate president.

The person chosen could not run for the office for the next term if serving in the interim when qualifying opens for the next round of legislative elections. Lorusso said the replacement lawmaker cannot be related to the incumbent.

The new lawmaker would receive the legislative pay and benefits and the elected legislator’s pay would end while on duty.

When Lorusso first ran for office in 2007, he touted his service in the Reserves and pointed out he had been called up twice before. He was called to active duty from February 2004 to May 2005 and was supposed to be stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, but from Fort Hood he was reassigned to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Pentagon.

Lorusso said he is “proud to have served in the Army for the last 15 years” and looks forward to returning to the legislative seat after his tour of duty is up.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonpartisan New Orleans policy organization, has opposed the proposed change in the state charter, saying that Lorusso’s interest in maintaining the seat is “outweighed by his constituents’ rights to elect the individual who represents them. The responsible course of action for a legislator called to extended military duty is to resign.”

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Ed Anderson cane be reached at eanderson@timespicayune.com or 225.342-5810.

Oct 16, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: On the Ballot, Statewide

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