Shouting Match Erupts in Baton Rouge as Louisiana State Senators Battle Over Bill
BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL News) - Two state senators came close to a physical alternation in the halls of the legislature Monday as Sen. Stewart Cathey of Monroe and Sen. Regina Barrow of Baton Rouge shouted and swore at each other following a committee meeting.
The dispute is over one of Cathey's bills, SB 93, which would move money dedicated solely to Baton Rouge and distribute it across the state.
That bill would relocate the $7.5 million that Baton Rouge collects as a tax on railroad cars in the state. Cathey argued that the money should be distributed based on where the train cars end up rather than just getting sent to Baton Rouge.
However, he was opposed along bipartisan lines by Baton Rouge-area politicians: Barrow, Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.
According to NOLA.com, all three opposed Cathey's bill because it would partially defund much-needed programs in Baton Rouge. They also disapproved of Cathey not extending the usual courtesy of giving a head's up to lawmakers who represent an area a bill would impact before introducing it.
Cathey pushed his bill back a week, but outside the committee room, he apparently exploded on Barrow.
“They told you a f-ing lie!” Cathey shouted at Barrow, putting his finger inches from her face, as he brushed by her in a Senate hallway just after she opposed his bill in a Senate committee.
“You better not put your f-ing hand in my face again!” Barrow replied.
Cathey stepped toward her, and the two exchanged expletives.
Later, Barrow would say about the exchange that "My husband is not even allowed to speak to me like that."
Cathey apologized hours later on the Senate floor, and Barrow accepted the apology.
The Senator from Monroe said that his "passion" for his legislation - which he says is necessary because north Louisiana often gets ignored while south Louisiana, and particularly Baton Rouge, reap rich financial rewards from the legislature - led to his outburst.
The problem with the current tax distribution is that no one knows why Baton Rouge collects all that money alone instead of it being distributed across the state.