State Rep. Avon Honey dead at 62
Officials in Baton Rouge said Friday that state Rep. Avon Honey has died. He was 62.

A spokeswoman for the House of Representatives confirmed the death. Gov. Bobby Jindal expressed condolences to Honey's family during a Friday news conference, saying Honey had passed away overnight.

The cause of death has not been made public.

Honey had represented a Baton Rouge district since 2002 and was the chairman of the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

House Clerk Butch Speer said he was told of Honey's death in a telephone call at about 7:30 a.m. "Everybody is totally shocked," Speer told The Advocate newspaper.

"A good Christian man, Avon was an asset to the House and a champion for the citizens of District 63," House Speaker Jim Tucker said in a news release.

Speer said that, while Honey had some health problems in recent years, there were no signs that he faced major difficulties. Honey, a Democrat, was at the center of a controversy over federal aid last year when he quietly added an amendment to a House bill that would have paved the way for the state to accept $98 million in federal unemployment dollars. Jindal opposed taking the money, saying it would lead to higher taxes for businesses.

Honey slipped the language into a bill at the end of a long workday. There was little discussion about what the changes did, and many lawmakers later said they didn't understand what they had approved. The language was later removed in the Senate.