‘LaPolitics:’ Q&A with the House speaker

    LaPolitics recently sat down with Louisiana House Speaker Taylor Barras to discuss the latest Legislative session and his plans moving forward as Barras hits his term limit in the House.

    LaPolitics: What are your thoughts and reflections as you face term limits and leave the lower chamber’s highest position behind?

    Barras: “It is bittersweet in a lot of ways. As frustrating and as tense as some of those debates got, I think it was important for Louisiana to have them. And kudos to the members who were willing to roll up their sleeves and try the reform or try the spending cuts. I mean, it takes that kind of debate, and you got to throw it out there for it to be healthy. But I think for all of us that are term-limited when I look back to ‘08 and look forward, you know there was some significant education reform that was heavily debated. I was on the committee that did the ethics reform back in ‘08. I was also on the House Governmental Affairs that did redistricting in 2011. I’ve had a pretty rich 12 years I have to say, and to cap it off with four years as the speaker, as exciting and packed as it was, it’s tough to walk away from, I tell you. When you’ve been that deep in policy, it’s not that easy to walk away. That’s for sure. But you know, I’m looking forward to my next venture. We’ll see what that is between now and December. But I have a banking career that I’m still working at…”

    Are you taking the gavel with you? Is that going to sit on your desk at IberiaBank?

    “Well, you know officially I serve until January 13 next year, so I’ll come back to hand the gavel over to someone. But I have a pretty packed summer and fall. I’m the chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference and I will host the regional conference in New Orleans in July. So we’ll have legislators from 15 states in New Orleans. I’m happy to serve as the host. I’ve got a couple of things, speakers conferences and things that I need to attend in the fall. So not hanging up the gavel just yet. I won’t be presiding over a session then, but looking forward to coming back next January and seeing the new body of elected members and, of course, the new speaker.”

    What is the best piece of advice that you could offer up to the next speaker?

    “The qualities of the person, the character of the person can play such a vital part of the success of their speakership. Some people can do that by being very flamboyant and very demanding. I chose the route of diplomacy and let’s get everybody around the table. We had so many 11 p.m. and midnight meetings, it wasn’t funny. If I couldn’t get the consensus, then I wanted to understand why, and I think it takes rolling up your sleeves and going through that process. If you walk away from any of that, to me, you’re doing the body an injustice. That takes a lot of hours, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s been an incredible honor. We had some very frustrating moments, but I think in the end, we’ve made some good decisions. And there’s still some work to be done, but I think we’re beginning to see this ship turn a little bit finally.”

    They said it: “Yes. It has come to this. It’s so slow in here that I noticed one of our older members is sporting fancy socks.”—Sen. Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge, during the regular session’s closing moments, via Twitter.

    Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.   

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