House speaker on leaving highest position

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

Speaker Taylor 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, Are you taking the gavel with you? Is that going to reside on your desk at IberiaBank?

Well, you know officially I serve until Jan. 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 15 states and legislators from 15 states in New Orleans in July. I’m happy to serve as the host.

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

The character of the person can play such a vital part of the success of their speakership. I chose the route of diplomacy and let’s get everybody around the table. We had so many 11 p.m. and midnight meetings in here 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.

About Jeremy Alford 163 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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