Taylor Barras’ job as Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives is safe, at least until tomorrow. The rumored coup attempt to wrest the job away from Barras didn’t happen.
The House was scheduled to begin its session at 9:00, but delayed for about an hour. At that time the only business of any significance taking place was the signing of “Happy Birthday” to Rep. Ted James and the referral of several bills, most notably HB 1, the state’s budget, and HB 2 and HB 3, which are the capital outlay bill and the bill providing authorization of state bonds to fund the capital outlay projects, to the Appropriations Committee (HB 1) and the Ways And Means Committee (HB 2 and HB 3).
Then a motion was made to adjourn the House until 5:00 Tuesday evening. The committees will meet, but there will be no opportunity for a move on Barras’ job until the House is on the floor again.
And if there was to be a coup attempt, it would have happened this morning.
Two representatives whose names have figured prominently in discussions about a coup, Rob Shadoin of Ruston and Paula Davis of Baton Rouge, were both given leaves of absence from the House today, as were Reps. Barry Ivey and Johnny Berthelot, who’ll be out for the duration. Without Davis and Shadoin available there would have been no chance of a successful coup attempt.
Ivey, who pushed for a grandiose, comprehensive tax reform plan in the regular session (much of what he proposed was worthwhile, but major tax reform while John Bel Edwards is Louisiana’s governor is simply not an idea with a lot of currency given Edwards’ insistence on tax-and-spend fiscal policy; whatever tax reforms Edwards would sign could only have the effect of major tax increases) and got himself in some trouble with constituents and the Louisiana GOP over supporting the gas tax bill in the Ways and Means Committee in the regular session, has said he’s boycotting the special session. Why he thinks that’s a smart idea is beyond our understanding; it looks childish. If he doesn’t want to serve as a legislator he ought to resign and let somebody else have a shot at the job; otherwise Ivey’s duty is to be there and fight for Louisiana’s taxpayers and voters.
Barras may not be completely out of the woods, but this morning’s fizzle of a coup attempt shows Edwards and his allies simply don’t have the votes. That they spent the weekend trying to build support for Kenny Havard, of all people, as a candidate to replace Barras is an indication they don’t have a candidate, either.
But Edwards is nothing if not stubborn, and he appears determined to spend more money than the state takes in. There is no indication he’s going to budget from that position after the way he had the Senate blow up the budget negotiations in the regular session and then march some of the state’s media out to play Baghdad Bob for him. Barras might be fated to spend his entire tenure as Speaker dodging attempts at palace intrigue.