A New Iberia native, Barras (pronounced BAH RAH) is the third of four children of Mazel Borel Barras (1924-deceased) and Elton Joseph Barras (1923-2007), a decorated United States Army first lieutenant in World War II, who operated a country grocery store from 1951 until 1969 and was then from 1969 to 1983 the chief deputy under Iberia Parish Tax Assessor Clegg J. LaBauve, Sr. (1906-1987). The senior Barras was elected to succeed LaBauve as tax assessor in 1983; he handily defeated Erland "Ticky" LaBauve (born May 1947) and held the position from 1984 until his retirement in December 2000.
Taylor Barras graduated in 1975 from New Iberia Senior High School, an entity of the Iberia Parish School System. In 1979, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He is market president of Iberia Bank. He is married to the former Cheryl Lopez.
Elected in 2007 in his first political bid, as a Democrat like his father, Barras and Shane Romero led a four-candidate primary field to enter the November 17 general election. Barras received 5,436 votes (45.3 percent) to Romero's 3,191 (26.6 percent). The two other Democrats in contention, David N. Broussard and Raymond Lewis, shared the remaining but critical 28.5 percent of the vote. Barras then defeated Romero, 6,690 (62 percent) to 4,091 (38 percent)
In 2011, Barras became one of several members to switch to GOP affiliation. As a result of several special elections since 2010 and the party defections, Republicans gained a majority of the state House for the first time since Reconstruction. Barras is a candidate for a second term in the nonpartisan blanket primary set for October 22, 2011.
In his first term, Barras served on these committees: (1) House and Governmental Affairs, (2) Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs, (3) Ways and Means, and (4) Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay.
In 2010, Representative Barras was rated 100 percent by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, 82 percent by the Louisiana National Federation of Independent Business, and 89 percent by the Louisiana Family Forum. In 2011, Barras voted, unsuccessfully, to override then Governor Bobby Jindal's veto of an increase in his state's cigarette tax. He also voted to ban hand-held cellular devices while driving. He voted against a 2011 proposal to establish a commission to study how to end state corporate and personal income taxes over the next decade.
Barras predicted no shortcuts to the reconciliation of the state budget, the first agenda item in the special legislative session set for mid-February. "None of the choices are easy or ideal, but we have to face them," Barras said.
When Governor John Bel Edwards' proposed increase in the state gasoline tax failed in the House in 2017, key supporters of the governor questioned the effectiveness of Barras' leadership. The Louisiana Republican Party and conservatives in the state House, however, rallied to Barras' defense on the premise that without Barras' leadership, the tax increase may have succeeded. It required a supermajority of seventy votes in the chamber. In a June 1 editorial, the Lafayette Daily Advertiser even called upon Barras to resign: "It may be no one could lead these 105 elected representatives, but Barras has proven he cannot. Barras is a good man but a bad speaker." Ken Naquin, the chief executive officer of Louisiana Associated General Contractors, referred to "the toxic mix that is the House of Representatives as it exists today [with] the total lack of leadership in the House." Naquin said that "in reality" there are three House Speakers, including Barras, Lance Harris of Alexandria, the chairman of the House Republican Caucus, and Cameron Henry of Metairie, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Harris disputed Naquin's observation and said that Barras is "doing an awesome job."
In July 2017, Governor Edwards sent Barras a letter asking the Speaker to formulate his own plan for closing an estimated $1.3 billion budget shortfall for 2018. "If you remain unwilling to undertake comprehensive budget and tax reform, please identify your plan to solve the looming fiscal cliff," Edwards wrote. The governor said that he will not call a second special session to address fiscal matters unless bipartisan solutions are advanced: "At a cost of roughly $60,000 per day, it would be irresponsible to make Louisiana's taxpayers foot the bill for another special session without a firm commitment to act from the House," Edwards wrote.