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Spotlight on History

Louisiana Legislature in the 1980s

Louisiana State Capitol


With the 2023 Legislative Session well underway, we are taking a look back at some of the major issues tackled by the Louisiana Legislature in the 1980s.  During the administrations of Governors Dave Treen, Edwin Edwards, and Buddy Roemer, the state budget took center stage due to the significant loss of state revenues during the oil bust.  State legislators also debated important legislation in the areas of education, the environment, labor and management, and fiscal reform.  Check out Louisiana: The State We’re In’s comprehensive coverage of these issues:




Senate President Michael O'Keefe


A View from the Inside (1980)

Watch a panel discussion following Treen’s first session with Senate President Michael O’Keefe, Speaker John Hainkel, and Sonny Mouton, Treen’s executive counsel.




Louisiana Senate during expulsion of Gaston Gerald


Expulsion of Gaston Gerald (1981)

View a report on the hearing and expulsion of State Senator Gaston Gerald, the first expulsion in the history of the Louisiana Legislature.



Creation Science Rally on steps of the State Capitol


Creation Science Debate (1981)

See a report on the Senate Education Committee hearing on a bill requiring public schools to teach creation science in equal time with the theory of evolution.




CWEL Tax Showdown


CWEL Tax Showdown (1982)

Watch the dramatic testimony of political rivals Dave Treen and Edwin Edwards on the controversial Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy (CWEL).




Gov. Dave Treen discussing creation of DEQ


Creation of DEQ (1983)

View a report on the passage of a bill creating the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to manage the state’s environmental issues.




Victor Bussie on proposed repeal of Right to Work


Repealing Right to Work (1984)

See a report on the unsuccessful effort to repeal right to work, one of the most contentious legislative issues of the 1970s.



Education Reform - Classroom


Education Reform (1985)

Watch a report on the problems facing the state’s education system and the reforms under consideration at the 1985 legislative session.






Gov. Edwards’ Gambling Proposal (1986)

View a report on Governor Edwin Edwards’ call for a public referendum legalizing casino gambling in New Orleans and a statewide lottery.    




Governor Edwin Edwards


Legislative Session Discussion (1987)

Watch a panel discussion with capitol reporters discussing the major issues at the session, an annual highlight of LPB’s legislative coverage.




Governor Buddy Roemer


Gov. Roemer’s Tax Reform Plan (1988)

See a report outlining Governor Buddy Roemer’s tax reform plan, which was eventually defeated in a statewide election by voters.




Louisiana Legislature in 1989


Roemer vs. the Legislature (1989)

View a report discussing state legislators’ high frustration level with Governor Buddy Roemer and his handling of the $702 million state budget deficit.





To see more stories, check out the Louisiana Legislature topic and the SWI in the 1980s blog post.