Have you ever wondered how the Louisiana House of Representatives actually operates? Join six former Speakers of the House for a lively discussion when the latest edition of the McLeod Lecture Series: The Speaker of the House Wields a Heavy Gavel premiered Thursday, April 12 at 7PM on Louisiana Public Broadcasting. There was an encore showing on Sunday, April 22 at noon.
Former House Speakers Charlie DeWitt, Jimmy Dimos, Hunt Downer, E.L. "Bubba" Henry, Joe Salter and Jim Tucker shared their views and first-hand experiences during the discussion on March 1 at the Ralph Squires Auditorium of the Shearman Fine Arts Center at McNeese State University. LPB President Beth Courtney moderated the discussion.
Former Speaker Jim Tucker says the Speaker’s job doesn’t have a lot of job security:“You’re one of 105,” Tucker said. ”It’s not like you are elected for a four-year term. Every day your term is up because 53 members can vote you out at any time.”
Tucker also said that it is inevitable that there will be clashes with the Governor’s Office.
“I was Speaker of the House. I was not Speaker of the Administration and that became evident several times publicly and a lot more times privately,” Tucker said.
Hunt Downer believes the polarization between the two political parties is making the Speaker’s and the Legislature’s job harder.
“We’ve got to strive not to be like Washington. We’ve got to get out of this republican versus democrat. I didn’t know that you were born republican or democrat,” Downer said. “We’ve got to start taking care of the people and not the party. What happens with term limits, when you don’t have the institutional knowledge the party comes in and says, ‘I’ve got it.’ You just vote the way I want you to vote.’”
E.A. “Bubba” Henry, who served as Speaker from 1972-1980 during the first two Edwin Edwards Administrations, said he had to get a lot of on-the-job training.“The most difficult job that I faced was that I was 36 years old and learning how to be speaker with a governor learning how to be governor, Henry said.
This was the ninth annual program in the McLeod Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the McNeese Banners Cultural Series and the McLeod Lecture Series Committee. The McLeod Lecture series is named in honor of former legislator, judge and civic leader Bill McLeod.
The Speaker of the House Wields a Heavy Gavel is part of the McLeod Lecture Series at McNeese State University.