Louisiana State Representative Jean Paul Coussan joined Discover Lafayette during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which ripped up most of Southeast Louisiana. He represents District 45 which covers much of Lafayette Parish.
Jean-Paul serves as chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee and is a member of the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay and House Select Leadership Committee. He is a member of the Acadiana Delegation, the Louisiana Republican Legislative Delegation, and the Rural Caucus. A takeaway of our interview: Jean Paul loves having the opportunity to serve in the Legislature and with his people skills, this is a natural fit that benefits all of us.
A graduate of LSU Law School, Jean Paul is a partner at the Lafayette real estate law firm of Andrus Boudreaux Complete Title. He is also a co-founder of Cougar Construction, LLC, which focuses on residential construction and rental units in Lafayette LA.
District 45 is centrally located in the city of Lafayette and is a largely residential area. Its boundaries may be roughly described as UL-Lafayette at its eastern tip,, Fieldspan Road to the western point, bounded south by the Vermilion River and rounded out by Cameron Street to the north. With 42,000 constituents he represents, Jean Paul spoke proudly of the people he represents who understand the issues and the scope of what he does as a State Representative.
Lafayette is traversed by many State-owned roads, such as Pinhook Road and Johnston Street, which many people may not realize and wonder why they are never improved. He shared that in the upcoming months there will be big news about Lafayette Consolidated Government taking over miles of state-owned highways so that improvements may happen more quickly and Lafayette can take control of its own destiny.
When catastrophic events such as hurricanes occur, Jean-Paul says it is a team effort to pull together resources. Everyone from the local elected officials, the state legislators, top Louisiana elected and appointed leaders, and of course, our federal delegation come together to determine how they can best help their constituents get back on their feet. While Hurricane Ida devasted the Southeastern portion of Louisiana, our neighbors to the west, particularly Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes, are still reeling from the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, as well as floods and freezes. He emphasized that all legislative delegations join in a nonpartisan effort to get life-saving resources such as water and generators to those most in need.
Jean Paul had just traveled to Houma early in the week and he said, “Houma is as bad as you can imagine.” He along with many of his legislative colleagues have traveled to bring ice and other needed supplies to help. When you listen to Jean Paul speak, you will hear compassion and concern as well as a “can-do” attitude to render assistance as needed.
State Rep. Jean Paul Coussan, his wife Jennifer Joy Coussan, and their young family, circa 2019. Jean Paul enjoys coaching his daughter’s basketball team, watching his son play football, and all the joys of being a dad and husband while he juggles work and legislative service.
There has been a high turnover in the Legislature in years of late. Once people get involved and they serve a term or two, they start to look at their options. Jean Paul Coussan likes what he is doing and in particular, loves serving as Chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee which oversees everything from Wildlife & Fisheries, the Department of Conservation (oil and gas issues)
“Relationships are key. It’s sad to see people leave and many are leaving before term limits are up. There is a major turnover. A lot of people roll back into local government and state government. I enjoy what I am doing. This is a process and relationships matter…all the way up to the Governor.”
Legislators vote on over 1000 issues a year. When our legislators send out information by mail on Session highlights, that is just the tip of the iceberg of what they deal with when the Legislature is in Session.
2020 Census results just came out and in early 2022, a Special Session will be held to redistrict based upon current population trends. The Legislature will reconfigure state House and Senate Districts, as well as Congressional Districts. Population shifts from North Louisiana to South Louisiana have been staggering. Mike Johnson’s Congressional District, as an example, lost over 50,000 constituents. Clay Higgins’ district gained population. Congressman Garrett Graves and Steve Scalise similarly gained a large number of constituents based upon current boundary lines.
Rural populations have moved to urban areas. The State Legislature expects lawsuits to be filed based upon the reconfiguration of districts. Many regulations and laws have to be followed to conform to federal guidelines. While it will be a challenge, State Rep. John Stefanski whose committee will be overseeing redistricting is up to the challenge.
In current Capital Outlay funding, there will be $125 million dedicated for I-49 South, the Ambassador Caffrey overpass at Hwy 90, to bring it to interstate standards. This will help develop properties all around that intersection.
This year Rep. Tanner Magee worked to rededicate $300 million of auto sales tax revenue to DOTD transportation projects. Not to be used for administrative costs, but directly to construction costs over time. Also dedicated to the Mississippi River Bridge project and the Lake Charles Bridge. DOTD can never jump in immediately to do projects as it takes time to acquire rights of way, perform engineering, etc.
UL – Lafayette has also received funding dedications for Madison Hall, a new Healthcare education facility, a new Engineering classroom, strategic property acquisitions, etc. Jean Paul wants to ensure that we use monies to the highest and best use.
What is Capital Outlay? Priority 1 means you have cash that can be spent. Priority 2 is a possible line of credit, Priority 5 means you are in a posture to move up for help.
Our delegation has focused on drainage needs over the past few years. This year, the Bayou Vermilion Flood Control had $29.6 million in various priority levels in Capitol outlay funding. The Vermilion River, which connects to the swamp by the airport, received funding dedicated to clear out drainage. A huge detention pond by Milton will be worked to drop the Vermilion by 12 inches…..many projects are in the works, a generational shift in our area to address drainage issues is underway. From LCG to the State to Federal.
Jean Paul Coussan is a partner in the well-respected Lafayette real estate law firm of Andrus Boudreaux Complete Title.
Jean Paul loves being Chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee overseeing areas that he has always been attracted to. With jurisdiction over the La. Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and the Office of Conversation and Environmental Quality, the work of his committee touches the livelihoods of the majority of people in our state.