Sen. Fred Mills: Not your typical Louisiana Republican.

by Patrick Flanagan

Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.

While the majority of his fellow state legislators firmly toe the party line, Sen. Fred Mills, a Republican out of St. Martin Parish, has an established record of doing his own thing.

That was witnessed Tuesday when he stood by the residents of coastal Louisiana in voting against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553 to kill the New Orleans levee board's lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies.

Of course, Adley's bill passed and now awaits a vote in the House; no part in thanks to one of Mill's fellow Acadiana delegates, Republican Sen. Page Cortez of Lafayette, who dared not step on the toes of Gov. Bobby Jindal and Big Oil.

Actually, Mills has a history of showing he's not afraid to go up against the oil and gas industry, as seen with his bills filed on behalf of the residents of Lake Peigneur attempting to stop a natural gas company's attempt to add additional storage caverns beneath the lake. Though his previous attempts have all died thanks to strong industry lobbying efforts, that hasn't stopped Mills, who has offered two additional pieces of legislation for this year's session, both attempting to stop the proposed expansion project by Atlanta-based AGL Resources.

Even more uncharacteristic of a Republican lawmaker is Mills' introduction of a bill to legalize medical marijuana - an effort that still may be years in the making for a state like Louisiana.

Perhaps, Mills' colleagues would be wise to take note of what it looks like for a lawmaker to act on the behalf of his constituents regardless of political consequence, because unfortunately, it's a rarity.