Almost everything you need to know to get a bit of small talk going with members of the Legislature’s freshman crop.
By JEREMY ALFORD
About 40 of the newest members of the House and Senate are converging on the State Capitol today for orientation. The mock committee hearings, fake floor debates, ethics seminars and sidebars on how to handle the media will run through Friday.
In honor of this gathering, we’re publishing a two-part series this week that could be of some help to the rookies — and others, too. Today, we’ll teach them a little something about themselves with the following cheat sheet for small talk — basically tidbits of information that may have slipped between the cracks. Not all on the list are true freshman, but all are about to serve their first full term.
Then we’ll publish the first draft of a list that details the education-related connections of every member of the Legislature. Since education is expected to be the issue to top all issues next year, let’s see if we can’t figure out where all the bones are buried. For more, tune back in tomorrow.
Rep. Clay Schexnayder, R-Sorrento: He may be the only certified mechanic in the Legislature. He’s probably also the only lawmaker to race a IMCA/UMP modified race car on the Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas circuits.
Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond: He had a memorable election day. Seriously. On Oct. 22, 2011, he was brought to the emergency room to have a chicken bone surgically removed from his throat. But it doesn’t end there Not long after his surgery, his wife went into labor and delivered their infant daughter, Ruby Jane.
Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Mansfield: One of eight siblings who likes to call himself an “old country boy.” As an Army officer, he was also assigned to the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. He immediately became part of the rescue team in the wake of the terrorist attack.
Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro: He is the co-founder of Ecolafayette, a design-build firm specializing in energy efficient homes. He’ll also tell you jokes in Cajun French.
Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma: She has operated a small business continually since she was 16 years old. She has also expressed an interest in having lawmakers drug tested.
Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette: As a young man in Iberia Parish, he made extra money picking peppers and working in the sugarcane fields. As a grown man, he was appointed superintendent of state police by former Gov. Mike Foster.
Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe: His father is former state Rep. Willie Hunter. Coincidentally, Hunter replaces Rosalind D. Jones, who in turn was the daughter of former Sen. C.D. Jones.
Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe: She’s another arm of the Willie Hunter legacy, having served as his aide at one time and later as one of the attorneys in his private firm. She’s also the former executive director of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.
Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston: He previously worked for the Legislative Council and may be among the few freshman who can write their own bills.
Rep. Dalton Honore, D-Baton Rouge: In 1965, he was appointed as the first African-American East Baton Rouge Parish deputy sheriff.
Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria: A master cattleman and master farmer, he was raised by Southern Baptist medical missionaries.
Rep. Wesley Bishop D-New Orleans: At one time, he actually earned a living on the motivational speaking circuit and Ebony magazine dubbed him one of the nation’s “Top 30 Young Leaders.” He’s a also a writer.
Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City: Elected ULM student body president in 1987, lettered in football the same year and later served as the “voice” of the university’s football and basketball teams as public address announcer.
Rep. Patrick O. Jefferson, D-Arcadia: He studied a summer at Oxford University in England and spent a year as a fellow with the government of the Germany
Rep. Steven Pylant, R-Delhi: During his tenure as sheriff, he actually gave a property tax and a half-cent sales tax back to the taxpayers of Franklin Parish.
Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs: She was a missionary for 18 years and lived in extremely harsh conditions.
Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Terrytown: He was on the ground in Grand Isle during hurricanes Gustav and Ike
Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Mandeville: The son of longtime state Sen. Ken Hollis, who died in 2010, he is a rare coins dealer in Mandeville. He also has a black belt in karate.
Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette: While pursuing his university studies, he worked as a Senate aide.
Rep. Bob Hensgens, R-Gueydan: A former mayor, he can take credit for balancing the budget of Gueydan while he was mayor without raising taxes.
Rep. Chris Leopold, R-Port Sulphur: This guy has serious dirty laundry… as the founder of Deep Delta Suds, that is. It’s a laundry service company that caters to the offshore industry.
Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Dubberly: Since 1977, he has served the public as a teacher and a principal at seven different schools and later through his employment with the Webster Parish School Board.
Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe: He worked a summer on Capitol Hill and later for the Louisiana Municipal Association.
Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette: He has concerns about career or technical diplomas and believes they severely limit career opportunities.
Rep. Gregory A. Miller, R-Destrehan: He’s a fan of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, according to his Facebook page. Additionally, he’s the son of former state Rep. Ralph Miller.
Rep. Randal L. Gaines, D-LaPlace: He has worked as a tax attorney with the Internal Revenue Service.
Rep. Ed Price, D-Gonzales: He previously served as president of the Louisiana School Board Association and chaired the LSBA’s legislative committee.
Rep. Alfred C. Williams, D-Baton Rouge: He’s a former aide to Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.
Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville: He wants to eliminate non-governmental funding.
Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Meraux: He operated StBernardParishGovernment.com in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It was the only source of information for locals for some time.
Rep. John A. “Johnny” Berthelot, R-Gonzales: He’s the former mayor of Gonzales.
Rep. Sherman Q. Mack, R-Albany: He attended Southeastern Louisiana University on a basketball scholarship.
Rep. Edward “Ted” James, D-Baton Rouge: Worked under former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
Sen. Rick Ward, D-Maringouin: His father is District Attorney Ricky Ward Jr.
Sen. Bret Allain, R-Jeanerette: While serving on the state Mineral Board, he helped transform the leasing process from one shaded by unfair access and favoritism to one that is now competitive and transparent.
Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Shreveport: He stirred up the gumbo pot a bit right after being elected by telling Gov. Bobby Jindal he would not support the administration’s choice for Senate president, Sen. John Alario.
Sen. Gregory Tarver, D-Shreveport: He actually served in the Senate for 20 years prior to this. But he’s back. He took the big bow several years ago when he was named as a defendant — and later found innocent — in the federal racketeering trial of ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards.
Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur: He returns to the Legislature after serving in the House during a career that dates back to 1995. While in the House, he declined the perks of office including state retirement and health insurance. Additionally, he donated $1,000 each year from his legislative pay to fund a scholarship for local students.
Sen. Troy Brown, No Party-Colfax: His first business out of college was a bail bonds company. Today, he runs a multi-million dollar home health care company with hundreds of employees.