Leslie Turk

The Sterilizer ousted as health committee vice chair

by Leslie Turk

John LaBruzzo, the Metairie Republican who suggested sterilization of poor women to reduce welfare numbers, was ousted Monday from his position as vice chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee. House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, booted his fellow Republican from the leadership position, saying LaBruzzo's comments could impede his effectiveness in helping Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to restructure Louisiana's health care system.

Jindal supports Tucker's position, the governor's chief of staff told The Advocate. LaBruzzo, however, will remain on the committee.

Both the number of welfare recipients and spending on welfare programs have plunged in the state since the early 1990s - spending was down to $16.5 million in 2007, less than legislators earmarked for pet projects, according to The Times-Picayune - a fact LaBruzzo apparently overlooked before making his sterilization suggestion. The main reason for the decline is the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation signed by President Bill Clinton. It put a five-year lifetime cap on benefits.