Faucheux, Landry still bustling as Legislative session wraps up

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 3, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 3, 1998

BATON ROUGE – As the 1998 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature winds down to its June 10 adjournment, legislators from St. John theBaptist Parish enjoy the hands-on bustle of meetings, both impromptu and official.

Sen. Ron Landry, the senior member of the Louisiana Senate, has been inoffice since 1976. His District 19 includes St. Charles and portions of St.John and Lafourche parishes.

Landry commands respect at the Capitol from both sides of the aisle in the Senate chamber, in both Houses of the state Legislature, as well as from the governor’s office. Currently, he serves on the Senate Judiciary C,Health and Welfare and Retirement committees and continues as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee as well as Senate Parliamentar- ian.

“I’m one of the few who knows the rules,” he said, smiling.

He took a moment to relax recently in a Senator-only cloakroom just off one of the committee hearing rooms, enjoying coffee and a small Winchester cigarillo. He had just given successful testimony on one of hisbills, SB 104, now headed for the Senate floor for consideration.

“Either you’re not doing anything or you’re overworked,” Landry said of the contrast between the general sessions and the fiscal-only sessions. “It’sfeast or famine.” The fiscal-only session could be the last, and that’ssomething Landry would welcome.

He continued, “Last year was a killer,” with a deluge of bills from legislators trying to make up from the year before when they were limited to fiscally-related legislation. He admitted he could not physically readeverything, and it affected his own personal standards of job performance.

And, with the fiscal-only session, pressing matters usually force a special session (as this year), adding to the workload of legislators.

“I’ve hardly had a break since then,” Landry said of this year’s special session, which led into Senate Transportation Committee hearings, which led to the current session.

He’s like the elder brother in a fraternity. Colleagues stroll into thecloakroom, shake his hand, exchange a word or two. At one point, with oneear continually cocked on the audio monitor of the hearing continuing in the next room, he suddenly jumped to his feet as the word “transportation” came to him.

He strode into the hearing room, listened for a moment, then returned.

“It’s OK,” he said.

“I really like it,” Landry commented of legislative work. “It’s challenging,and I feel like I’m making a contribution.”While Landry radiates an impression of calm, control and smooth manipulation of events to attain his long-considered goals, freshman Rep.

Bobby Faucheux has an altogether different reputation on the other end of the Capitol.

Usually leading the pack on the sheer volume of legislation filed, Faucheux is the admitted “Energizer Bunny” of the House.

First elected in 1996, he took the Capitol by storm, filing bills and issuing press releases of his activities by flurries to the media, intent on keeping his constituents informed as to his activities.

At a fiscal session, during which few bills are generally filed, Faucheux loaded the committee hearing calendars with 22 of his own.

On May 27, he was unaccustomedly stalled in a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, on which he serves, dealing with a host of bills, including seven of his own.

For a time he chewed on an unlit cigar, then put it away prior to discussion on a pending bill regarding increased taxation on smokeless tobacco.

With less than an hour for lunch, Faucheux hurtled out of the Capitol, into his vehicle and drove three blocks away to the office building of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association, where a handful of legislators wolfed down fried chicken, potato salad, green salad, green beans and their choice of chocolate or lemon pie.

He hastened back and immersed himself in preparing for the 3 p.m.convening of the full House.

“Ways and Means is one committee I enjoy,” he snapped. Three of his sevenbills cleared the committee that day, and he was chugging, full steam ahead.

“In a fiscal session, the only committees doing any real work are Ways and Means and the Appropriations committees,” he said.

It’s clear he wraps himself in the work with a hands-on approach on every matter which comes to his attention.

“I’m totally enjoying this,” Faucheux said, grinning.

The Louisiana State Capitol, built during the reign of Gov. Huey Long, playshost each year to a myriad of personalities. There are the greedy and theself-promoting. There are the quiet and committed and the boisterous andblustery. Sterling innovation is sometimes swamped in rhetoric andvenom. Yet, Louisiana government, in all its warped beauty, still managesto govern Louisiana, helped largely by legislators such as Faucheux and Landry.

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