BATON ROUGE - Members of the Louisiana House elected New Iberia Republican Taylor Barras as their new Speaker, defeating the Democrat supported by John Bel Edwards for the position.
Barras received 56 votes to Walt Leger's 49 to claim the Speaker's gavel from outgoing Speaker Chuck Kleckley.
Leger (D-NO) had also claimed 49 votes in the first round of voting. Republican Cameron Henry received the second-highest total, but withdrew his nomination to throw support behind Barras.
Barras received late backing from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry as their choice for speaker. The loss for Edwards' candidate means the new governor will face more opposition to any legislative changes in order to fix the state's budget crisis, since all tax bills must originate in the House.
"I'm going to work with Taylor Barras. I've known him for eight years. He's a good man," said Gov. Edwards. "The Speaker Pro Tempore is going to be Walt Leger. We're going to form a team. We're going to move forward. We're going to do the things we talked about today."
In the Senate, John Alario was re-elected President by a unanimous vote and Gerald Long was elected president pro tem.