From The Publisher: February 2016
● By Aimee Cormier
Acadiana’s Good Fortune
By Art Suberbielle
After a long and sometimes bitter struggle, Louisiana voters finally selected a governor in December. John Bel Edwards’ inauguration on Jan. 11 signaled a new era in recent history in the state – a Democrat serving as governor. This situation is complicated due to the solid majority that the Republicans hold in both the House and Senate.
The Governor had selected Rep. Walt Leger, a fellow Democrat, to handle his legislation in the House and serve as Speaker. Meanwhile, the Republican majority were supporting Rep. Cameron Henry to serve in that capacity. Before the House would cast a vote on who would be the Speaker, there was a tremendous amount of back room politicking going on. Although the Republicans had the majority, enough of them had decided to support the Governor’s Democratic nominee to fairly well assure his election. Party leaders wanted to get a Republican to serve in that position, so the stage was set for a battle.
Among the House Republicans was a group of 8 conservative, independent thinkers, most of whom were freshmen. Rep. Blake Miguez of New Iberia was a member of the group. This particular group, led by a feisty Breaux Bridge native, Paula Pellerin Davis, wanted to see a more moderate Republican serve as Speaker. As Davis recalls, “We’ve got to get this state straight. We felt that it was necessary we elect someone who could work with the Governor.” Three names were discussed in a private meeting of the Group of 8. They chose none other than New Iberia Rep. Taylor Barras as their candidate. Although there was a significant amount of political maneuvering during the voting for Speaker, Taylor Barras ultimately got the nod.
Barras has served 8 years in the House and is serving his final term. “He is a quiet guy, but strong and he’s a proven leader,” Davis said. His record in the legislature has shown that he is able to work through differences to find equitable solutions. Barras’ successful career in the banking industry will serve all of us well as the state attempts to find ways to balance its budget.
With the power of the Speaker of the House on our side in Baton Rouge, Acadiana has high expectations to fair well during the legislative sessions.