Huey P. Long’s birthday added to list of holidays removed | Legislature

With no debate, the Louisiana House voted 62-20 Monday to eliminate Huey Long’s birthday from Louisiana’s list of legal holidays, along with Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day.

House Bill 248 also changed the name of Washington’s Birthday to President’s Day and ensured that along with National Memorial Day the state could celebrate with a day off from work if the governor so proclaims.

President’s Day will be celebrated the third Monday in February and Memorial Day is the last Monday in May.

With House’s approval, the legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration. It must clear its legislative hurdles before the assembly adjourns on June 6, then be signed by the governor to become law.

New Orleans Democratic Rep. Matthew Willard initially wanted to strike from the state’s official holiday calendar the day Louisiana celebrated Confederate General Robert E. Lee and remembered the estimated 258,000 Confederate soldiers who died while fighting the United States in the Civil War. The holidays have been in Louisiana lawbooks at least since 1925, though could have been part of the scene as early as the 1870s when a number of Southern states adopted the holiday to mirror the Memorial Day for Union soldiers.

On the floor of the House, Willard amended his bill to tidy up the sprawling law that explained Louisiana’s official holidays and how they worked. In the process, Willard removed Huey Long’s August 30th birthday as an official day off.

Actually, all three of the holidays – for Lee, Long, and Confederate soldiers – hasn’t been celebrated in years. Under the law, the governor had to proclaim the holiday and the chief executive was limited to the number of days off that could be granted. The three holidays haven’t made the commemorations list in decades.

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Confederate Memorial Day is still an official holiday in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina as well as Texas, Florida, and Tennessee, though called something else in those states. Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia struck the holiday from their law books. It is set for June 3 in Louisiana.

Long was born in Winnfield on Aug. 30, 1893. He was the 40th governor of Louisiana, serving between 1928-1932, before becoming a U.S. Senator, 1932-1935. He was assassinated in a back hall of the State Capitol in September 1935.

State workers, public schools and banks can take off on Mardi Gras, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Voting to strike remembrances of Lee, Confederacy and Huey Long from state’s official holidays (62): Speaker Schexnayder, Reps Adams, Bishop, Bourriaque, Boyd, Brass, Brown, Bryant, Carpenter, R. Carter, W. Carter, Cormier, Coussan, Deshotel, DuBuisson, Duplessis, Echols, Fisher, Freeman, Freiberg, Gaines, Geymann, Glover, Green, Harris, Hilferty, Hughes, Ivey, Jefferson, Jenkins, T. Johnson, Jordan, Kerner, LaCombe, LaFleur, Landry, Larvadain, Lyons, Mack, Magee, Marino, McFarland, McKnight, McMahen, D. Miller, G. Miller, Mincey, Nelson, Newell, Orgeron, C. Owen, Phelps, Pierre, Schlegel, Selders, St. Blanc, Stagni, Turner, White, Willard, Wright and Zeringue.

Voting Against HB248 (20): Reps Amedee, Bagley, Crews, DeVillier, Edmonds, Edmonston, Emerson, Frieman, Gadberry, Garofalo, Goudeau, Horton, M. Johnson, Miguez, R. Owen, Riser, Romero, Schamerhorn, Seabaugh and Thompson.

Not Voting (23): Reps Bacala, Beaullieu, Butler, Carrier, Cox, Davis, Farnum, Firment, Fontenot, Hodges, Hollis, Huval, Illg, Marcelle, McCormick, Moore, Muscarello, Pressly, Stefanski, Tarver, Thomas, Villio and Wheat.

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