A Conversation With House Clerk Butch Speer

Jeremy Alford: So… Now what?

House Clerk Butch Speer: Well, it’s true that legislatures all over the country — but this one in particular, ours in particular — seem to wait until the boat disappears from under their feet before they start bailing. I think they’re at that point. They can’t put it off any longer. Whether their hair is one fire or whether they’ve run into the wall — whatever the metaphor is — they’re at a point where they have to. And I believe, strongly, that there are two-thirds of people out there who want to do something. There’s certainly that close-to-a-third who want to do nothing and make it as bad as it can be.

JJA: Where do you see the remainder of this term heading? We’re halfway through it and it seems like the body is still evolving and developing.

BS: It is. This is the first term in modern Louisiana politics. Every session before this term operated on a completely different paradigm. The power structure was different. But the ability to encourage members to go along with the desires of leadership was different. An elected group doesn’t learn how to be independent and how to exercise a power independently just by having power given to them. They have to learn how to use that power. This group is learning. Regrettably, I see the next two regular sessions as not being improvements on the collegiality but actually continuing this divide that’s begun amongst them, that they just will find more and more things to separate themselves, and fewer and fewer things to bring themselves together.

JJA: Does this term of the House remind you of any other term in particular?

BS: It doesn’t because, like I said, the whole paradigm of power is different. One could think back to the Roemer term, when we were about as disorganized and rudderless as one could be, and yet we weren’t completely. The governor still had a speaker that was his ally, he still had committee chairs that were his allies, he still had an Appropriations and Ways and Means Committee that were his allies. I mean, at the time, we all thought, “How could it be this bad” Be careful what you wish for. It might come true.

JJA: What about a comparable session? I keep thinking back to that December special that Kathleen Blanco, where Jim Tucker finally organized Republicans and they shut that one down.

BS: They didn’t shut it down having done nothing. They just shut it down before they did everything that the governor wanted done.

JJA: Is there any update on how the election to replace you is going to play out?

BS: No.

JJA: Are you hearing about any candidates?

BS: Obviously, the members have done nothing about actually getting behind someone to give them on-the-job training. I have no clue.

JJA: Has this session reinforced your enthusiasm about retirement?

BS: It certainly has not changed my mind.

LOWDOWN: How A Podcast Gets Made

Here at LaPolitics, we like to use our videos and podcasts to teach you something you don’t already know. So in this week’s Lowdown, we’re

Ronnie, Riverboats & Re-Election Campaigns

His father pitched for The New York Yankees before gaining his political chops in Bunkie, Louisiana, just like his son did. So who is it

SPONSORED: Celebrating 25 Years Of Burkenroad Reports

Twenty-five years ago, Professor Peter Ricchiuti founded a unique learning opportunity for Tulane University graduate students that has not

PRE-SINE DIE Q&A WITH SEN. BRET ALLAIN

LaPolitics: That final Finance vote in HB 1 was such a break from the session rhythm. Quick, unemotional and transactional. Was that

ALFORD: The Capitol’s Dirty Little Secret

The governor of Louisiana is not politically omnipotent. (I’m referring to the storied position of governor, not the man or the woman who

RABALAIS’ POLITICAL HISTORY: John Breaux’s Last-Minute Win Over Henson Moore

U.S. Sen. Russell B. Long’s announcement that he would retire after 36 years in the upper chamber was unexpected, as he had been building

PHOTO GALLERY: The Final Four Hours Of The Special Session That Never Was

   

“Members, It Is 12 a.m.”

It’s called a photo finish for a reason, not that the House, Senate and Edwards Administration would need photographic evidence to help sort

VIDEO: Who’s The Man Behind The Tree?

When politicians want your money, the idea is bound to come up. "Don't tax you. Don't tax me. Tax the man behind the tree." But who is

The LaPolitics Report: Meet Monty

This episode features Monty Sullivan, the president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, who provides a political read

LaPolitics Weekly Special Edition: FISCAL CLIFFHANGER

THE RUNDOWN Weekend action slated at Capitol… Sunday is budget-tax day on Senate floor… Sales tax amendments doomed… But the rate is still

LaPolitics Weekly: THEY SAID IT

“I didn't write the Constitution. I’m just trying to follow it.” —Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry, during HB 1 floor debate “I’m trying

Major Moves In SOS Race: Free announces, Werner out & JNK wades in

Like he did during last year’s special election for state treasurer, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is picking sides again in the special election

FISCAL CLIFFHANGER: A Political Melodrama Told In Three Acts

FISCAL CLIFFHANGER A POLITICAL MELODRAMA TOLD IN THREE ACTS How a failed sales tax bill set the special session’s tone, bridged a deep

What The Heck Is John Alario Saying?

Have you ever listened closely to the words being said into the mic Senate President John Alario while he’s overseeing the business of the

SPONSORED: CGI Announces Major Louisiana Expansion

During his special session speech on May 22, Gov. John Bel Edwards, along with IT company CGI executive Dave Henderson, announced that CGI

#LA: John F. Jones & Social Media Advertising

“Social media is not magic. It’s just one of our many channels that we can use.” That’s the view of CenturyLink Public Policy and

JBE, Mitch & The Donald

This story was originally published in LaPolitics Weekly on May 18, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community by

SPONSORED: Congratulations to Bruce Greenstein and LHC Group!

Congratulations to Bruce Greenstein on this week’s announcement that he will return to Louisiana to lead innovation at LHC Group as Chief

THE LaPOLITICS REPORT: Picard, Politics & Ponies

In our latest podcast episode of The LaPolitics Report, Tyron Picard of The Picard Group drops in for a conversation about a bygone era in

CAPITOL GAINS: At Home with Clay

 “This is what America wants to see.” That was the promise from a beer-toting Congressman Clay Higgins in this episode of Capitol

SPONSORED: The 106th First Lady’s Luncheon

The Picard Group was honored to attend the 106th First Lady’s Luncheon, honoring The First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump. Held on

IT’S PERSONAL

This story was originally published in LaPOLITICS Weekly on May 4, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community by

THIS COULD BE YOU

You could say legislators in Illinois really dropped the ball when they failed to pass an operating budget for their state prior to the 2016

POD: Politics & Drilling, According To Briggs

In this episode of The LaPolitics Report, we talk to Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Gifford Briggs, who recently succeeded his