Here’s something not altogether surprising from today’s finale of the regular Louisiana legislative session – toward the very end of the proceedings this afternoon, several members of the Senate gathered at the back of the House chamber participating in a disturbance began by the House Democrats angry with Speaker Taylor Barras’ having ruled out of order a demand to vote on a “conference report” on the state budget (one which was patently illegitimate; see here for details on that), one so loud that it could be heard on the House’s podium microphones.
Among those Senators engaged in the hooting and yelling was Karen Carter Peterson, the New Orleans Democrat who chairs the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee and also chairs the Louisiana Democrat Party. Two others in that crowd, which gathered in the center aisle toward the double doors at the House at the back of the chamber, were fellow Democrats Jay Luneau and Wesley Bishop.
Rep. Dodie Horton, a Republican from Shreveport whose seat in the chamber was toward the back, asked the group to be quiet because she couldn’t hear the proceedings on the House microphones.
And for Horton’s trouble Karen Carter Peterson got in her face and told her to “Shut the fuck up!”
There were multiple witnesses to this.
This was a state senator going into the chamber of the House of Representatives and verbally assaulting a member of the House for having asked her to stop disrupting the House’s business.
We’re told Karen Carter Peterson sent Dodie Horton a text message by way of an apology this evening, and that Horton accepted. That might well square things between the two.
But it doesn’t square things with the people of Louisiana, whose House of Representatives was disgraced by Karen Carter Peterson’s behavior. Her apology shouldn’t just go to Horton; it should go to all of us. It was our business Horton was doing, and that Peterson was disrupting before she compounded the disgrace by dropping an F-bomb on an elected representative.
Accordingly, we’d like to see two things result from this incident.
We’d like to see the House pass a resolution Monday morning calling on the Senate to censure Karen Carter Peterson. And if that demand is not met, we’d like to see the House ban Senators from its chamber.
If the Senate doesn’t censure Karen Carter Peterson for that behavior, it sends a signal that the Louisiana Senate is a degenerate legislative body run by ruffians and thugs. And it wouldn’t be the first such signal.