Failed session one for books

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p style="text-align: left;"><em>"Nobody won this one, and taxpayers will pay a heavy price for the failure."</em></p> <p style="text-align: right;">-Jim Beam</p>” id=”6e73376a-582c-4d8a-b778-ee2ff00963f4″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent” width=”full”}}


Republican leaders in the Louisiana House wanted to give Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards a black eye Thursday by derailing his Senate-approved 2017-18 budget. However, they were the only ones who left the state Capitol with bloody noses because of their last-minute shenanigans.

Speaker of the House Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, later said, “I’m not trying to poke anybody in the eye. We are trying to put two different ideologies together.”

Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said, “The governor hasn’t moved one inch on anything.”

Edwards said, “They’re not hurting my feelings, but they’re hurting the people of Louisiana. They just need to grow up.”

Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, summed up the final hectic minutes of the 2017 fiscal session.

“Petty politics got in the way of adopting a very good, reasonable, conservative, austere budget.” LaFleur said. “It became about who were we going to try to hurt politically, who were we going to try to help politically …”

The session ended in a circus atmosphere after Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, got a majority vote on his motion to allow a full House vote on the budget. The House couldn’t do that without Leger’s motion because Barras and Henry refused to sign a conference committee report on the budget.

Barras got tangled up in a parliamentary quagmire questioning Leger’s proposal and that ate up precious time. Few will ever know whether that was a GOP delaying tactic, but the session came to its required 6 p.m. adjournment without an approved budget.

Leger and most of his colleagues from both parties seemed stunned at the unexpected outcome.

Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, told Barras she didn’t understand why he ruled Leger was out of order in wanting to have the full House vote on the Senate’s proposed budget. She said it had been done many times before.

Leger said, “I felt pretty confident that there were more than enough people to pass the Senate version of the budget, and I wanted us to have a vote on it to determine where we were.”

The odds are he was correct.

Five members of the Southwest Louisiana House delegation voted with Leger. They are Reps. James Armes, D-Leesville; Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur; A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles; Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings, and Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek.

Reps. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles; Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff; Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville; and Frank Howard, R-Many, voted with the GOP leadership.

Edwards had called a special session in case a budget wasn’t approved in time, but most legislators thought it wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize how far the Republican triumvirate (Barras, Henry and Rep. Lance Harris) would go to have their way. The special session will cost taxpayers well over a half-million dollars.

Harris, who is chairman of the House Republican Caucus, is the most dominant member of the trio. Henry is just as uncompromising. Nothing happens within the GOP ranks without the stamp of approval from those three. Republicans circle around Harris’ desk often to get their marching orders.

Although there are 61 Republicans in the House, a GOP group of about 20 is actually in control. Not all, but most of the other 41 pretty much willingly fall in line. Those who don’t are destined to be called RINOs (Republicans in name only).

We can expect that fate to befall 10 Republicans who voted with Leger to try and bring the state budget to a vote minutes before the fiscal session had to adjourn. What they really deserve are commendations for standing firm for the voters who sent them to Baton Rouge to make their own independent decisions.

I told one of them as I departed the chamber Thursday that his vote was a courageous one. He said he votes for the constituents in his district, many who are in desperate need of state health care and other assistance.

Reps. Barry Ivey, R-Central, and Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, were two of those 10 and they turned in outstanding performances during the session in the face of tremendous opposition from both parties. The House wouldn’t go along with most of their tax reform bills. Members of a Senate committee rejected those that did get approved, saying they didn’t want to do piecemeal reform.

Stokes said after adjournment, “I’m disgusted. Grow up and start working on solving the people’s problems.”

The last and only other time legislators failed to approve a budget was in 2000 when Mike Foster was governor. In contrast to the current situation, The Associated Press said Foster “may have been the winner. He got most of the tax revenue he wanted, and he gets to decide how the Legislature will deal with the budget bill in a special session he must call this month…”

Nobody won this one, and taxpayers will pay a heavy price for the failure.


Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 337-515-8871 or

“Nobody won this one, and taxpayers will pay a heavy price for the failure.”

-Jim Beam

      7cf233e0-ce10-11e7-a9e5-c3d7c60a7f172017-11-20T16:33:00ZobituariesObituaries published Sunday, November 19, 2017Miss Genevieve Louise Ancelet, 83, Miguez Funeral Home.

      Roy Junior Barrett, 90, Hixson Funeral Home.

      Robert Anthony Collins, 64, Combre Funeral Home.

      Christy Lynn Daigle

      Helen Mary Noel Dugas, 85, Fondel Memorial Chapel.

      George Allen Fontenot, 75, Lakeside Funeral Home.

      Pierre “Boo” Fontenot Jr., 92, Johnson Funeral Home.

      Ronald Fontenot, 69, Reed Funeral Home.

      Mary “Freddie” Hill, 77

      Lily Thomas Abraham Mafrige, Boone Funeral Home.

      Fred “Tae” Marcantel, Jr., Johnson & Brown Funeral Home.

      Ottis Otto Monroe, 71, White Oaks Funeral Home.

      Kenneth Neal Petrey, 84, Myers-Colonial Funeral Home.

      Karen Louise Colletta Rosfeld, 73, Johnson Funeral Home.

      John William Whiting Jr., Geesy Ferguson Funeral Home.

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