Members of the House playfully heckled and hissed at Hutter, but Hebert, a native of Jeanerette, quickly calmed them down. "Don't y'all be hard on her," he said. "She's not the only blonde that rode in that Cadillac, I promise ya'."
Sitting alongside the House floor was Hebert's girlfriend, smiling and shaking her head. "Just hold on, baby," he told her. "I'm going to confession."
And he did. Hebert, who was an impressionable 30 when thrown into the House in 1996, talked briefly about his first and only divorce (and how much it cost), touched on the number of doctors he has dated over the years. "It's been said I like women. That is a lie," he said. "I love women. It's also been said I like blondes. That's a lie. I like brunettes and redheads, too."
The hysterical and heartfelt comments have been commonplace for a few weeks in the House, where 45 term-limited lawmakers and a handful of retirees have been given five minutes each to sign off. Across the hall in the Senate, 15 members are term-limited and planning similar remarks. Most of the farewell speeches in the lower chamber so far, however, have amounted to mini-biographies on the orators themselves.
But they have also yielded real political lessons, reflections on a bygone era and glimpses into the future of the Louisiana Legislature.
Rep. Robby Carter, a squat, country Democrat from Independence, likened his final days to the "end of summer camp" and promised his colleagues that they would "stay friends forever." He thanked a few lawmakers for their advice over the years, particularly Rep. Warren Triche, a Lafourche Parish Democrat known for his own outrageous antics. Triche taught Carter that practically any bill can be passed if positioned correctly.
For instance, if a legislator tags a bill as local, other lawmakers from outside that region will traditionally back off. "If you got a bad bill that needs to pass, somehow couch it as local and it'll get 'em every time," Carter said laughing.
A tearful Rep. Danny Martiny, a Republican from Metairie, revealed he originally ran for office to keep other candidates out of the race as a favor to someone else. Then legendary Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee unexpectedly threw his support behind Martiny. An accidental legislator, Martiny eventually learned to keep his rookie mouth shut and observe. "As much as you want to say this body is driven by issues, it isn't," Martiny said. "It's driven by people. If you figure out what makes people tick, you can get a lot done."
One hard lesson Martiny learned came at the hands of Westwego Rep. John Alario, another term-limited Democrat with a capitol hallway already named after him. Martiny recalled how he was once playing golf with Alario, and at the same time, back in a committee hearing, one of his bills was being amended beyond recognition and replaced with language from a measure Alario was pushing.
When he cornered Alario sometime later to ask what had happened, the seasoned pro replied, "The first rule of a hijacking is that you don't tell the pilot."
While Martiny also celebrated the many party opportunities afforded through serving in the Legislature, it took Rep. Romo Romero, a New Iberia Democrat, to bring church to the House. Romero isn't exactly known for his religious bent, but that might be about to change. He's known for frequent smoke breaks during committee meetings (which he often returns to still cleaning his pipe), for erupting into French during heated debates and the long stick he used for years to reach over his desk on the House floor and vote other lawmakers' machines.
But in his final and memorable farewell, Romero urged members to put faith first in their future decisions and then, in an odd tangent, referred to himself as the devil.
"We all have a tendency that we believe we are here because the people elected us and put us here. But that's not so. We're here because God chose to put us up here. And you see, Satan does not sleep. When we get here in the morning to take care of the business of the state, Satan has been in here waiting all night. In fact, I think he sits in seat 25," Romero says, motioning wildly at his own seat before moving on without explanation.
Rep. A.G. Crowe, a Slidell Republican, gave a shout out to the unofficial "Bird Caucus," which replied loudly with unidentifiable fowl cries. The all-GOP caucus, which does nothing more than caw when a fellow member is at the microphone, consists of Reps. Crowe, Gordon Dove of Houma and Carl Crane of Baton Rouge.
Of more substance, though, Crowe used his farewell speech to reflect on a near-death experience from earlier this month when a two-by-four fell off a truck and nearly flew through his car window. Visibly shaken, Crowe recommended lawmakers treasure every day. "Had the board been two seconds earlier, I would not be here," he told the House.
Meanwhile, Rep. Monica Walker, a Marksville Democrat, utilized the time to recount her humble beginnings on the Lafayette High School student council, back when Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc was president and she was a sophomore representative. Aside from her House elections, it was the only other time she ever ran for office.
In a move reminiscent of the responses given during a Miss America Pageant, Walker concluded her address by reading the lyrics from Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance."
"When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance," she gushed at lawmakers, clearly overrun with emotions.
"It's now my turn to dance," Walker added, before exiting the podium in sobs.
Dramatic flair aside, nearly every speaker in the House mentioned the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats. Rep. Mickey Frith, an Abbeville Democrat who also serves as chairman of the Acadiana Delegation, echoed the remarks of other term-limited lawmakers that party politics are taking over the process and overshadowing the needs of citizens.
Frith attempted to tell lawmakers that mirroring Washington, D.C.'s policy gridlocks and partisan fever would do nothing to move Louisiana forward. Unfortunately, he said, that's the direction the Legislature is heading after term limits take effect. "The only thing that you'll feel good about at the end of the day is taking off your shoes," Frith said.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.
The endorsements keep coming for District 9 LPSB candidate Jeremy Hidalgo, who picked up his fifth vow of support Thursday, this time from the Chamber’s political action committee.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be out knocking on doors this weekend with anti-abortion activists encouraging people to vote against his colleague, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sued Abbeville's mayor and police chief over a policy barring police from any social media use showing the city in a bad light.
Prospective Republican presidential candidates are expected to promote "religious liberty" at home and abroad at a gathering of religious conservatives Friday, with anti-Obama speeches from the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.