|Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives|
January 11, 2016 – January 13, 2020
|Preceded by||Chuck Kleckley|
|Succeeded by||Clay Schexnayder|
|Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives|
from the 48th district
January 14, 2008 – January 13, 2020
|Preceded by||Romo Romero|
|Succeeded by||Beau Beaullieu|
Taylor Francis Barras
January 1957 (age 63)
New Iberia, Louisiana, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (Before 2011)|
|Education||Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge (BS)|
Taylor Francis Barras (born January 1957) is an American accountant and banker from New Iberia, Louisiana, who is a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 48, based in Iberia Parish. On January 11, 2016, as he began his third term in the chamber, Barras was elected House Speaker by his colleagues, who in what was considered a political upset on the second ballot rejected Representative Walt Leger, III, of New Orleans, the choice of incoming Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. Barras received fifty-six votes; Leger, forty-nine. Since the days of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., legislators had confirmed the governor's choice for Speaker, but the Republican House majority instead elected Barras, despite the governor's wishes to the contrary.
A New Iberia native, Barras (pronounced BAH RAH; French: /baʁa/) is the third of four children of Mazel Borel Barras (1924-deceased) and Elton Joseph Barras (1923-2007), a decorated United States Army first lieutenant in World War II, who operated a country grocery store from 1951 until 1969 and was then from 1969 to 1983 the chief deputy under Iberia Parish Tax Assessor Clegg J. LaBauve, Sr. (1906-1987). The senior Barras was elected to succeed LaBauve as tax assessor in 1983; he handily defeated Erland "Ticky" LaBauve (born May 1947) and held the position from 1984 until his retirement in December 2000.
Taylor Barras graduated in 1975 from New Iberia Senior High School, an entity of the Iberia Parish School System. In 1979, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He is market president of Iberia Bank. He is married to the former Cheryl Lopez.
Elected in 2007 in his first political bid, as a Democrat like his father, Barras and Shane Romero led a four-candidate primary field to enter the November 17 general election. Barras received 5,436 votes (45.3 percent) to Romero's 3,191 (26.6 percent). The two other Democrats in contention, David N. Broussard and Raymond Lewis, shared the remaining but critical 28.5 percent of the vote. Barras then defeated Romero, 6,690 (62 percent) to 4,091 (38 percent)
In 2011, Barras became one of several members to switch to GOP affiliation. As a result of several special elections since 2010 and the party defections, Republicans gained a majority of the state House for the first time since Reconstruction. Barras is a candidate for a second term in the nonpartisan blanket primary set for October 22, 2011.
In his first term, Barras served on these committees: (1) House and Governmental Affairs, (2) Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs, (3) Ways and Means, and (4) Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay.
In 2010, Representative Barras was rated 100 percent by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, 82 percent by the Louisiana National Federation of Independent Business, and 89 percent by the Louisiana Family Forum. In 2011, Barras voted, unsuccessfully, to override then Governor Bobby Jindal's veto of an increase in his state's cigarette tax. He also voted to ban hand-held cellular devices while driving. He voted against a 2011 proposal to establish a commission to study how to end state corporate and personal income taxes over the next decade.
Role as Speaker
Barras predicted no shortcuts to the reconciliation of the state budget, the first agenda item in the special legislative session set for mid-February. "None of the choices are easy or ideal, but we have to face them," Barras said.
When Governor John Bel Edwards' proposed increase in the state gasoline tax failed in the House in 2017, key supporters of the governor questioned the effectiveness of Barras' leadership. The Louisiana Republican Party and conservatives in the state House, however, rallied to Barras' defense on the premise that without Barras' leadership, the tax increase may have succeeded. It required a supermajority of seventy votes in the chamber. In a June 1 editorial, the Lafayette Daily Advertiser even called upon Barras to resign: "It may be no one could lead these 105 elected representatives, but Barras has proven he cannot. Barras is a good man but a bad speaker." Ken Naquin, the chief executive officer of Louisiana Associated General Contractors, referred to "the toxic mix that is the House of Representatives as it exists today [with] the total lack of leadership in the House." Naquin said that "in reality" there are three House Speakers, including Barras, Lance Harris of Alexandria, the chairman of the House Republican Caucus, and Cameron Henry of Metairie, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Harris disputed Naquin's observation and said that Barras is "doing an awesome job."
In July 2017, Governor Edwards sent Barras a letter asking the Speaker to formulate his own plan for closing an estimated $1.3 billion budget shortfall for 2018. "If you remain unwilling to undertake comprehensive budget and tax reform, please identify your plan to solve the looming fiscal cliff," Edwards wrote. The governor said that he will not call a second special session to address fiscal matters unless bipartisan solutions are advanced: "At a cost of roughly $60,000 per day, it would be irresponsible to make Louisiana's taxpayers foot the bill for another special session without a firm commitment to act from the House," Edwards wrote.
Lanny Keller, a journalist for The Baton Rouge Advocate, wrote in reference to Barras's retirement as Speaker that the lawmaker, a compromise choice for the top position, is "a nice guy. But unfortunately, he's been a failure in many ways as Speaker, and one who left the House as an institution in far worse shape than he found it. The budget process is a mess, and Barras bears a large share of the responsibility. Some of that is direct and personal, because as a member of the numbers-crunching Revenue Estimating Conference, he blocked ordinary and reasonable budget forecasts in recent months."
- Greg Hilburn (January 22, 2016). "House Speaker Taylor Barras: No shortcuts". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "Elton Joseph Barras". Findagrave.com. September 23, 2007. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "Rep. Barras, Taylor F." mobilelgs.com. Retrieved August 26, 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "Louisiana primary election returns, October 20, 2007". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "Louisiana general election returns, November 17, 2007". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "Rep. Barras joins GOP". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- "Rep. Taylor F. Barras: Republican District 48". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "Taylor F. Barras". votesmart.org. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Tyler Bridges (June 2, 2017). "House Speaker Barras' leadership questioned; conservatives rally behind him". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- "As Louisiana Legislature flounders, House Speaker faces blowback". New Orleans Times-Picayune. June 3, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- Greg Hilburn (July 20, 2017). "Gov. Edwards to Speaker: What's your plan for fiscal cliff?". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
- Lanny Keller (June 4, 2019). "Taylor Barras may be the nicest guy in the State Capitol, but he's a failure". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
|Louisiana House of Representatives|
| Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
for the 48th district
| Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives