By Jeremy Alford and Mitch Rabalais
State Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, recently became the 10th member of the Louisiana Legislature to resign from his seat in the past two years. That’s a historically high number, as lawmakers reach the middle of this term.
Broadwater said he resigned from the House to spend more time with his family and to focus on his law practice. Broadwater notified House Speaker Taylor Barras a few weeks ago, and told his colleagues about his decision in a written letter.
“(It) is time for me to refocus my attention on the wonderful family with which I have been blessed,” Broadwater wrote in a revealing and personal letter to his colleagues. “I know that what I have described is not foreign to any of you.”
Broadwater’s resignation will eventually pave the way for the body’s 11th special election.
There have been eight special elections for House seats — one due to the death of late Rep. Ronnie Edwards — since the Legislature was seated in January, 2016.
Two more still need to be held, including the race to replace Broadwater in House District 86 and the pending contest in House District 93, where Democratic Rep. Helena Moreno has been elected to the New Orleans City Council.
In the Senate, meanwhile, there has already been a special election to replace disgraced former Sen. Troy Brown, who was threatened with a legislative investigation related to misdemeanor domestic abuse charges.
House Clerk Butch Speer predicted in a recent interview with LaPolitics that the resignation count for the current term “could get worse.”
Prior to term limits, he said, the statehouse had “remarkably few” special elections. “We’ve been losing people hand over fist ever since,” Speer said, later adding, “If they didn’t like being here, they just didn’t run for election next time they came up. There was no benefit to quitting in the middle.”
Schroder Transitions Into Treasurer’s Job
Treasurer John Schroder hasn’t yet been on the job for a full month. But he’s keeping tabs on the ongoing budget chatter and the political mood at the State Capitol heading into next year’s legislative sessions.
Schroder said in a recent interview that he intends to keep his office’s entire 83-person staff in place. A review of departmental processes, from leave time to purchasing and travel, has already started.
But Schroder’s top priority, in terms of closing out 2017, is to communicate with the top bond rating agencies to let them know how the budget process will work in 2018 and what that will mean for state revenue. And Schroder’s attention will eventually turn to the Legislature.
“I’m not going to be a ghost,” said Schroder, adding that he’s already had meetings with lawmakers about bills that are being drafted. “I will be actively involved and I will be here daily.”
Asked about the governor’s revenue plan, Schroder said, “It’s going to be very difficult to raise taxes in this state. I won’t even argue if we need it or not. The citizens don’t want it … Look, you have to clean a house before you put furniture in it. We’re buying furniture and don’t have a house.”
He added, “The governor and I have always had a cordial relationship. I expect that to continue. We’re sort of cut from same cloth — similar backgrounds, similar neighborhoods. I’ll support the governor when he’s right. And it won’t be personal, because personally, I like the guy.”
Schroder did say that he was concerned that last year’s tax and budget task force, which he created legislatively and the governor is relying on for his plan, didn’t spend enough effort investigating budgeting practices.
“The only thing the task force really accomplished was on the tax side,” the treasurer said. “My position has always been the same. I think we need to start on the budget side, not the revenue side.”
Here are a few more highlights from Schroder’s interview …
— On Speaker Taylor Barras: “We have talked at length … I’ll continue to work closely with Taylor. I don’t always agree with him, but I like disagreeing with him because he’s a nice guy. You just can’t yell at the speaker.”
— On Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s proposal to eliminate midterm special elections, like the one that got Schroder elected: “I support it 100 percent.”
— On his decision to fully pause his campaign operation: “I did it on purpose. When you talk to people and listen to people about why they are losing faith in the process, it’s the politics. That bothers me, as a veteran, that what built this country people have lost faith in … I always let my work speak for itself, and I hope to do the same thing as treasurer.”
— On budget cuts: “I met with (Commissioner of Administration) Jay (Dardenne) and he told me to prepare for a 10 percent reduction. I told my staff to prepare for the worse case scenario.”
They Said It
“The least you can do is demand that his cabinet appointees pay their taxes.”
— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, recommending that back taxes should be paid by former State Police superintendent Mike Edmonson, after noting the tax increases supported by the Edwards Administration
“Sen. Kennedy is not one to pass up an opportunity to get a headline.”
— Richard Carbo, the governor’s deputy chief of staff
For more Louisiana political news, visit LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.