Henry Burns

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named Henry Burns, see Henry Burns (disambiguation).
Henry Lee Burns
Louisiana State Representative for
District 9 (Bossier Parish)
In office
January 14, 2008 – January 11, 2016
Preceded by Billy Montgomery
Succeeded by Dodie Horton
Personal details
Born (1947-03-02) March 2, 1947 (age 70)
Webster Parish
Louisiana, USA
Political party Democrat- turned-Republican (2006)
Spouse(s) Lynette Morrand Burns


Christopher Ryan Burns
Parents A. J., Sr., and Mildred O'Bier Burns
Residence Haughton, Bossier Parish
Alma mater

Shongaloo High School
Northwestern State University

Pepperdine University
Occupation Bakery owner; Horse breeder
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Lieutenant colonel

(1) In addition to his work as a Louisiana state representative, Burns operates the Wooden Spoon bakery in Bossier City and is a thoroughbred owner and breeder.

(2) Burns has an educational background and served for fifteen years as a Democrat on the Bossier Parish School Board.

(3) Burns switched to the Republican Party to run for the legislature and emerged victorious in the 2007 nonpartisan blanket primary by only eighty-seven votes.

Henry Lee Burns (born March 2, 1947) is a Republican former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 9 in Bossier Parish in northwestern Louisiana. He owns and operates the Wooden Spoon bakery in Bossier City and is a thoroughbred owner and breeder.[1]

Burns ran in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 2015, for the District 36 seat in the Louisiana State Senate being vacated by the term-limited Republican Robert R. Adley. Burns carries the backing of both the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the state AFL-CIO.[2] In the November 21 runoff election, he was defeated by 326 votes by fellow Republican Ryan Gatti, a lawyer from Bossier City, 14,023 votes (50.6 percent) to 13,698 (49.4 percent). Burns lost his native Webster Parish by 557 votes.[3]


A native of Shongaloo in central Webster Parish,[2] Burns is one of three sons of the late Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Burns, Sr. In 1958, Burns, Sr. (1907-1976), won a write-in election for a seat on the Webster Parish School Board, having unseated the incumbent Parey Branton,[4] his fellow Democrat, who was later the three-term District 10 state representative for Webster Parish. One of Burns' brothers, Kerry O. Burns (1940-2015), was a Webster Parish property tax assessor prior to 2004. Another brother is A. J. Burns, Jr., of West Monroe.[5]

Henry Burns is a former member of the Bossier Parish School Board and a well-known area raconteur who frequently lectures at public schools on the keys to success in life, with emphasis on perseverance.

Until the late 1980s, Burns was an independent petroleum and natural gas operator. When the business failed, he launched his bakery despite the odds against success and his having to learn the business from scratch. "I went from crude oil to Crisco oil," Burns said, noting that his accountant, bankers, and attorney told him that he had too much debt for his venture to succeed. Nevertheless, the Wooden Spoon had some success: "No one knew I was down and out because I had a smile on my face and never stopped." Burns said that the bakery succeeded because "people respond to cookies ... [as] a reminder of their childhood."[6]

Burns graduated in 1965 from Shongaloo High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in upper elementary education from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and his Master of Arts in educational administration from Pepperdine University, a Churches of Christ institution in Malibu, California.[1]

Military service[edit]

Burns was commissioned on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as a second lieutenant in the United States Army by then U.S. Representative Joe D. Waggonner of Louisiana's 4th congressional district. An explosive ordnance officer with specialty in nuclear weapons, Burns also trained Special Forces and United States Navy Seals in the defusing of bombs. He retired from the military at the rank of lieutenant colonel.[2]

From 1971 to 1974, he earned his military branch assignment at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland as an ordnance officer with the "Bomb Squad". He instructed joint service personnel, allied forces, NATO forces, foreign nationals, and FBI and CIA officers on military munitions, clandestine devices, embassy and presidential security, and special weapons. He received the Navy Commendation Medal. From 1974 to 1977, Burns transferred to Hawaii as a special weapons officer, served as a branch chief, and received the Army Commander Medal. From 1978 to 1979, he joined the United States Army Reserves in Livonia, Michigan, where he served as company commander for a prisoner of war camp. From 1979 to 1997, Burns served in the 4th Brigade, 95th Division and 4158th USAR School.

Burns was activated in 1987 and 1989 to serve as the operations officer for Lone Ironman I and II, a test to verify readiness training conducted at Fort Polk near Leesville in Vernon Parish. Burns received the Meritorious Service Medal, the highest peacetime medal for duty performance.

Political career[edit]

Burns served fifteen years on the school board in Bossier Parish. In 1998, he ran third in the primary election for Bossier Parish property tax assessor, the position held in Webster Parish by his brother, Kerry Burns. The victor in the ensuing general election was Bobby W. Edmiston.[7]

In 2006 Burns entered the legislative race vacated by the term-limited Billy Montgomery, who ran instead, unsuccessfully, for the state Senate, having lost to former state Representative B.L. "Buddy" Shaw of Shreveport. Burns won Montgomery's House seat by eighty-seven votes in the primary held on October 20, 2007. In the GOP-oriented district, Burns defeated fellow Republican Richey Jackson, also of Haughton, an employee of the Bossier-Webster District Attorney's office, 5,225 (50.4 percent) to 5,138 (49.6 percent).[8]

Burns served on these House committees: (1) Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development; (2) Natural Resources and Environment; and (3) Transportation, Highways and Public Works. He is also affiliated with the Louisiana Rural Caucus.[9]

Burns was unopposed for his second term in the House in the primary election held on October 22, 2011. Rather than seeking a third term ion the House in 2015, he instead ran for the state Senate in a district encompassing Bossier, Webster, Bienville and part of Claiborne parishes.[2]

A second "Burns" also served in the Louisiana House of Representatives: Timothy G. "Tim" Burns, a Republican from St. Tammany Parish.

Legislative ratings and record[edit]

Burns's legislative ratings ranged from 78 to 100 percent from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. In 2012, he was rated 83 percent by the National Federation of Independent Business. In 2013 and 2014, he was rated 90 and 100 percent, respectively, by the conservative Louisiana Family Forum. Louisiana Right to Life has scored Morris 100 percent for every year that he has been a legislator. In 2013 and 2014, the Louisiana Association of Educators rated him 42 and 50 percent, respectively.[10]

In 2014, Burns co-sponsored the requirement that abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges near their clinics; the bill was approved by the full House, 88-5. In 2014, he voted for the extension of time for implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He voted to prohibit the prohibition of the transportation of dogs in the beds of pick-up trucks while traveling on interstate highways; the measure passed the House, 53-34. He voted against the requirement that companies must give notice when they engage in hydraulic fracking. He voted against the repeal of the anti-sodomy laws. He supported the establishment of surrogacy contracts. He voted against reducing the penalties for the possession of marijuana, but the measure passed the House, 54-38. He voted for lifetime concealed carry gun permits and co-sponsored the establishment of concealed-carry privileges in restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages. He supported the prohibition against making information about gun permit holders a matter of public record. He voted in 2013 to increase judicial pay, which passed the House, 78-18, and to remove the mandatory retirement age for judges, which was rejected 63-33.[11]

In 2012, Burns voted to prohibit the use of telephones while driving; the ban passed the House, 68-29. He did not vote in 2011 regarding restricting the use of other hand-held cellular devices for driving. He supported tax incentives for attracting a National Basketball Association team to Louisiana, which passed the House, 60-41. He backed the establishment of state income tax deductions for individuals who contribute to scholarship funds, which was approved 66-37. He voted to reduce the number of hours that polling locations remain open; Louisiana has traditionally had 14-hour polling days. He co-sponsored drug testing of certain welfare recipients; the bill passed the House, 65 to 26. He supported changes in the teacher tenure law. In 2011, he voted for parole eligibility for elderly inmates; the measure passed the House, 65-25. He opposed the permanent tax on cigarettes and voted for the establishment of a commission to develop a plan for ending the state income tax. He supported redistricting plans for the Louisiana State Senate and Louisiana's six seats in the United States House of Representatives. Burns opposed the anti-bullying measure for public schools; the disputed bill failed, 43 to 54.[11]

In the state Senate primary, Burns led a three-candidate field with 10,202 votes (40.3 percent). Ryan Gatti trailed with 8,649 votes (34.2 percent). The Democrat Todd Hollenshead polled 6,465 votes (25.5 percent).[12] With Burns running for the state Senate, two Republicans ran in the primary election to succeed him in the House, Dodie Horton, his legislative assistant from Haughton, and Michael Ray "Mike" McHalffey (born March 1959)[13] of Benton.[14] Horton defeated McHalffey, 4,584 votes (63.8 percent) to 2,602 (36.2 percent) for the right to succeed Burns, effective January 11, 2016.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Representative Henry L. Burns". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved December 24, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Henry Burns running for state senate". Minden Press-Herald. September 4, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Results for Election Date: 11/21/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Burns Wins Over School Board Head: Gets 55 Percent of Votes for Victory over Branton", Minden Herald, November 6, 1958, p. 1
  5. ^ "Kerry O. Burns". Minden Press-Herald. May 22, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ "State Representative offers students encouragement", The Shreveport Times, December 3, 2008
  7. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, October 3, 1998
  8. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, October 20, 2007
  9. ^ "Louisiana House of Representatives website, Henry L. Burns". Louisiana.gov. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Henry L. Burns's Ratings and Endorsements". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Henry L. Burns's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. May 19, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 24, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Michael McHalffey, March 1959". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved September 11, 2015. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Candidates Qualified in Statewide Elections". KEEL (AM). Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Billy Montgomery
Louisiana State Representative for District 9 (Bossier Parish)

Henry Lee Burns

Succeeded by
Dodie Horton