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.
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.