Content tagged “Politics”

Jindal, Cruz to headline September GOP event in Iowa

Republican presidential prospects Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September. Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition announced today that Cruz, a Texas senator, and Jindal are scheduled to speak at the Sept. 27 event planned at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. It's billed as a "family banquet" and is intended to charge up conservatives ahead of the Nov. 4 election. It's also expected to feature Iowa candidates, including Gov. Terry Branstad, who is seeking a sixth term. Cruz and Jindal are among Republicans weighing 2016 presidential candidacies. Both have made repeated visits to Iowa, which will begin the presidential nominating process with its caucuses. Social conservatives comprise a loyal core of the GOP caucuses' base. Meanwhile, MSNBC is reporting that Jindal—who on Wednesday garnered a lot of national headlines by filing suit against the Obama administration over the Common Core education...

Decisions deferred at Metro Council, new fire station approved

The Metro Council at its meeting Wednesday evening deferred decisions to change the building permit process and to expropriate land for a north Baton Rouge wastewater plant, but did allocate funds for a new fire station. For months, contractors and developers have been pushing measures to speed up the Department of Public Works permitting process for new construction projects. Councilman Ryan Heck offered an ordinance to allow contractors to go to certified third parties who would be able to review everything but the plan's compliance with zoning, plot plans and flood zones. Heck said there's already a provision in state law to allow such a process, and that other parishes already make use of it. But the steps in the process that third parties would handle only take two hours to complete, so the proposal wouldn't save as much time as contractors think, according to DPW officials.

Pro-voucher group seeks to undo order in La. case

A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program. The Associated Press reports U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle ordered the reports in April. He ruled that they are needed to make sure Louisiana complies with a 1975 desegregation order about state money going to private schools. The order requires that the state provide federal officials with lists of voucher applicants, information on schools in the voucher program, and enrollment and racial breakdowns on public schools and private schools in the voucher program. A group of voucher families, represented by the conservative Goldwater Institute, say the ruling resulted from a Justice Department effort to "stifle" the voucher program. Also involved in the appeal is the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options, a pro-voucher group. State officials have said the ruling won't impede...

Jindal suing feds over Common Core

Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a lawsuit this morning against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards. The U.S. Department of Education has used a $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards and testing. Jindal says that "effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum" in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content. The legal challenge puts Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, at the forefront of a dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, bolstering the governor's profile on the issue as he's trying to court conservative voters nationwide. "The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative," Jindal says in a statement. More than 40 states,...

La. borrows to balance budget

The books on Louisiana's previous budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work. The Associated Press reports that to fill gaps in the budget that ended June 30, the treasury had to dip into dollars slated to pay for state agency operations this year. Treasurer John Kennedy says the state used $24 million from this year's budget to plug last year's holes. That's part of a continuing balancing act used by Gov. Bobby Jindal and state lawmakers, which relies on patchwork funding from items like property sales, legal settlements and hurricane recovery spending reimbursements to keep state programs and services operating. Jindal's top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, says the budget was balanced and the borrowing was only temporary. "We always knew that fiscal year 2014 was fully funded," she says in a statement to AP. But Kennedy says there's a "structural deficit" in the state's annual spending plans,...

Public Service Commission finally becomes interesting

If the regulation of utilities and motor carriers is your thing, then you'll feel right at home with the Public Service Commission.

Alford: Public Service Commission finally becomes interesting

If the regulation of utilities and motor carriers is your thing, then you'll feel right at home with the Public Service Commission, Jeremy Alford says. "Otherwise, you've probably only ever heard of the independent agency in passing," writes Alford in his latest column. "Even reporters tethered to its beat have to dig deep for news, save occasional bursts of front-page fodder." Alford notes that, politically, the PSC has a reputation as being a stepping stone to governor, particularly for Kathleen Blanco, Jimmie Davis, Huey Long and John McKeithen. "From energy to trucking, it's a decent position from which to create a fundraising base," he writes. "Plus, if a politician is shrewd and opportunistic, he or she can maintain those relationships while portraying themselves as a public watchdog." Yet for all its intrigue and importance, Alford says a seat on the five-member PSC rarely captures our collective imagination during an election year. "And we rarely have a reason to give its...

Landrieu, Cassidy and Maness to debate on Oct. 14

Incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican challengers Rep. Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness will all participate in a debate that is to air live on Louisiana Public Broadcasting on Tuesday, Oct. 14, from 7 to 8 p.m. The debate will take place at Centenary College in Shreveport. “We are very excited that all three of the major candidates have agreed to appear in this forum,” says Barry Erwin, president of the Council for A Better Louisiana, which is partnering with LPB to present the debate. While there are other candidates running for Louisiana's Senate seat, CABL says it invited only those that have polled at least 5% in a recognized, nonpartisan or news media poll, or those who have raised at least $250,000 in campaign contributions, established a campaign committee and have filed campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.

LaPolitics: Jindal watched closely as exit approaches

With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition. "Things are in motion. The announcement is coming," says a senior-level source in the cabinet. "It's no secret that he's not around, but some of the people close to him are keeping their plays close to their vest and trying to figure out where they're going to land. But you do have a few people who are willing to die on the sword for him and will ride it out in hopes they can come along." Another source with the state Republican Party says an official announcement is expected after this current election cycle wraps up, and Jindal indicated the same during a recent interview on MSNBC, while qualifying he's still undecided. "You're going to start to see some shuffling around of players sooner than later," the party official says. A longtime lobbyist...

Federal agency has questions about LSU hospital deals

Gov. Bobby Jindal's revised financing plan for six LSU hospital privatization deals is running into questions from federal health officials who rejected a previous version. The Associated Press reports the state health department today released the three-page question letter from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars. In May, CMS rejected the plans for six hospital deals, saying the agreements don't meet federal guidelines. So, the state Department of Health and Hospitals sent a new proposal. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says the questions are a typical part of the process and "positive sign" the revised financing plan could be approved.

New planning director begins rewriting BR zoning code

The Planning Commission at its meeting Monday night gave Planning Director Frank Duke the green light to begin rewriting several areas of the city-parish zoning code that he believes are problematic—among them, the ordinance that governs the Historic Preservation Commission. Duke, who has been on the job since mid-June, says he's a big supporter of the HPC, which was created to regulate land use in the city's two historic districts and has often found itself in the crosshairs. But he believes the ordinance governing the agency is complicated and convoluted. "This ordinance requires a Certificate of Appropriateness for any change to the exterior of a structure—even if you cannot see what that change is going to do from the street," he says. "If you can't see it, it shouldn't be that big of a deal." Duke says he would like to simplify the HPC ordinance in order to make it easier for neighborhoods to become historic districts. At Monday's meeting, Duke also got approval to...

Mid City business owners plan area improvements

An outdoor stage, green space and splash pad are in the works for the unused triangular-shaped median on Eugene Street between Boudreaux's Catering and Baton Rouge Magnet High School. The Mid City Merchants are pushing the project. Community Development Committee Chairman Coleman Brown said at a meeting this morning that the project will complement the state's plans to slim Government Street to three lanes. Brown said the area, which may be called Mid City Plaza, is projected to be 14,000 square feet. The group is also pushing several other projects, including returning Main Street and North Street to two-way roads east of Interstate 110; establishing a pedestrian crosswalk, similar to the golf cart crossing at Webb Park, where Capital Heights Avenue crosses North Foster Drive; constructing a roundabout at the intersection of Lobdell Avenue, Independence Boulevard and Government Street; and widening the entirety of Airline Highway from four to six lanes. Most of the Airline project...

Metro Council to take up Time Out Lounge rezoning request Wednesday

Despite a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission on Monday evening to reject a rezoning request from owners of the Time Out Lounge to allow for the opening of a bar at 3180 Valley St., the Metro Council on Wednesday will take up the issue at its regular zoning meeting. Normally, a request that is unanimously rejected by the Planning Commission would not appear before the Metro Council, says Council Administrator Casey Cashio. However, a technicality has given the prospective bar owners another shot at having the rezoning request granted. Cashio confirms that since the issue was introduced, advertised and placed on the Metro Council zoning agenda prior to Monday evening's vote by the Planning Commission, which initially deferred the issue in late July, it will be heard Wednesday. However, because of the Planning Commission's unanimous vote against the measure, it will need to be...

Landrieu faces more travel questions

Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is under renewed scrutiny for potentially violating campaign finance laws by tapping official Senate funds to cover the cost of fundraising trips. As Politico reports, a review of Landrieu's office expenditures and campaign records reveals two trips from 2012 that may have been improperly billed to her Senate office rather than her reelection campaign. On Aug. 23, 2012, Butler Aviation charged $6,787 for an in-state flight for Landrieu that included multiple stops. The flight was from New Orleans to Vidalia to Shreveport to Alexandria and back to New Orleans, according to official disbursement records Landrieu filed with the secretary of the Senate. On Oct. 18, 2012, Butler Aviation charged $3,437 for a Landrieu flight from New Orleans to Opelousas to Patterson and back to New Orleans. Both trips included campaign-related events that raise questions about whether some or all of the costs of the charter flights should have been covered...

Senate race presents risk for Jindal

Even though Gov. Bobby Jindal's name won't appear on the November and December ballots, he may very well be judged anyway come the end of this current election cycle.

Alford: Senate race presents risk for Jindal

Even though Gov. Bobby Jindal's name won't appear on the November and December ballots, columnist Jeremy Alford says he may very well be judged anyway come the end of this current election cycle. "Despite the critics who lash out at him for visiting those all-important early presidential caucus states, without what they describe as much of a chance of winning, the governor is nonetheless becoming a national voice and GOP force," Alford writes in his latest column. "Whether it was Stan Lee, Winston Churchill or Voltaire who turned the phrase, it's indeed true that with great power comes great responsibility. For Jindal, that may mean delivering the top of the ballot in Louisiana for national Republicans." Alford notes that so far the governor has yet to endorse anyone in the increasingly bitter race for the U.S. Senate, which pits incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu against Congressman Bill Cassidy and former Air Force Col. Rob Maness, both Republicans. "What's keeping Jindal from...

Transforming Mid City

On Aug. 18, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority was scheduled to select one of two firms to do a $190,000 predevelopment plan for 115 blighted acres of inner-city property that sit between downtown, which is being transformed into a model live-work-play district, and Mid City, which is slowly being reborn as a funky, trendy arts district.

Judge hearing arguments in Common Core lawsuit today

A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards. District Judge Todd Hernandez is hearing arguments today in the preliminary injunction request. The hearing is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. in 19th Judicial District Court. The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. Seven parents and two teachers, along with a charter school organization, sued Jindal after he suspended contracts the education department planned to use to buy testing material aligned with Common Core. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education joined in suing Jindal. They allege that the governor violated constitutional provisions that establish authority over education policy in the state. Jindal's lawyer says the Republican governor exercised his statutory authority over state contracting and did nothing improper. In a...

LaPolitics: LABI targeting courts again with new focus on transparency

One of the biggest losses for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry during this year's legislative session was the defeat of a bill that would have lowered the state's threshold for a jury trial from $50,000 in claims to zero. Now the group is out with a new report on the issue and strong words about what's to come. LABI President Stephen Waguespack says the bill will be re-introduced in 2015, although it's too early to tell what, if any, changes will be made. "We've got to get this done at some point. We're going to keep pushing," he says. "We realize it may be a multiyear effort." Another push by the business group next year may involve judicial transparency, particularly in the area of finances. Camille Conaway, vice president of policy and research, says the Legislature approves an annual budget for the judiciary, but the document only offers broad strokes. "There's no visibility on revenues from the state and what's local or self-generated," she says. "How much in...

St. George proponents making final push to get incorporation issue on December ballot

Organizers of the city of St. George incorporation effort have scheduled what they say will be their final fundraiser to "help finish up getting the last signatures we need and then helping us transition from a signature drive to a campaign," says St. George spokesman Lionel Rainey III. The group has 17,700 signatures on its petition for a ballot referendum on the incorporation effort, Rainey says, adding he believes that will be enough to get the measure on a December ballot. Previously, the group estimated it needed to collect roughly 18,000 signatures, but that figure was based on the number of residents who live within the boundaries of the St. George Fire Protection District. Rainey says the group has since learned that the St. George fire department serves several areas that are actually outside the boundaries of what would be included in the proposed city of St. George. "The upshot is, there are more registered voters in their fire district than there are in what would be the...

Council rejects 'fairness ordinance,' OK's hiring Pierson to represent city-parish in annexation suit

After about 45 minutes of discussion, the Metro Council voted 8-4 Wednesday evening to reject the so-called fairness ordinance, as expected. Although the fairness ordinance was the focus for the bulk of the meeting's attendants, the council used the remainder of the meeting to consider several other noteworthy items. With little discussion, it approved a $50,000 contract with attorney Mary Olive Pierson to represent the city-parish in a lawsuit Woody Jenkins filed against it over the annexations of the Mall of Louisiana and two hospitals. Other contracts the council approved include two for the Downtown Development District—a $49,500 contract with professional engineering corporation AECOM to update the 2005 Downtown Baton Rouge Parking Feasibility Study and a $25,000 contract...

Jindal says decision on 2016 presidential run coming after midterm elections

Gov. Bobby Jindal says he believes the country is ready for a big change in 2016, adding he hasn't decided yet if he'll try to be the person to do it. "If I were to decide to run, I certainly think our country is hungry for a big change," Jindal said this morning during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I think there's a lot of frustration with both Democrat and Republicans in both parties. Everyone just wants to make incremental changes." Jindal says he will make a decision on a presidential run after the midterm elections in November. Jindal this morning also addressed his opposition to the Common Core education standards. "I'm for tests, I'm for standards, I just don't want the federal government driving those standards," he says. "I'm very worried about my kids doing these things. I think it'd be better if they slowed down, let the parents, teachers have more transparency." The Washington Times has

Hearing on Roper's job postponed yet again

The Metro Council voted this afternoon to further postpone a hearing on the fate of Parish Attorney Mary Roper's job. The council convened at 2 p.m. but adjourned shortly after when it voted to postpone the hearing until Sept. 10. Attorney Murphy Foster—who represents the council in a suit Roper filed against the council late Tuesday afternoon—today advised the council to defer the meeting after Judge Caldwell signed an injunction earlier today. Wade Shows, whom Roper has hired to represent her, requested the injunction this morning. It will prevent a vote on Roper's job until a judge hears arguments about whether her due process rights have been violated. Roper's suit charges the council with trying to terminate her from her job without cause. A hearing for the suit has been set for Aug. 26. Meanwhile, Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe today added to this afternoon's...

La. teachers get more support to teach Common Core standards

While legal battles continue in court over whether Common Core will remain the state's standards for reading, writing and math, the Department of Education is moving forward with a package to help teachers use it in their classrooms. As The Shreveport Times reports, Superintendent of Education John White and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer maintain that until they are forced to change, Common Core will remain in public schools. "As we enter the fifth year of our state's transition to higher expectations, it is essential that we continue to provide teachers with every resource we can, so that they can help their students reach new heights," says White, who announced today new training opportunities and new sample test questions to assist teachers. A Baton Rouge judge is considering whether Gov. Bobby Jindal abused his constitutional authority when he blocked the education department's effort to purchase test questions aligned with Common Core.

New age limit to affect about 160 La. court officials

A new law preventing anyone 70 or older from running for constable or justice of the peace in Louisiana is facing stiff opposition—especially among the officials who are about to be banned from re-election because of their age. As The Associated Press reports, the mandatory retirement provision was signed into law in June with little fanfare. Now, however, the law is drawing fire as the deadline for filing to run in the November election approaches next week. Some of the court officials affected by the new law say they intend to run anyway, even though it says they are too old. A law that sets a mandatory retirement age of 70 for constables and justices of the peace has been on the books since 2006. The law excluded anyone elected before then. Republican state Sen. Elbert Guillory's bill removed that exemption, a change that will affect about 160 officials. Guillory says he sponsored the law on behalf of a constituent who said he represented the Louisiana Justice of the Peace...

Mastering the master plans

Several firms are in the midst of redesigning areas of the city in ways that are a long time coming.

Council must convene for today's hearing on Roper's job, but action remains uncertain

While an attorney for embattled Parish Attorney Mary Roper is attempting this morning to halt a planned 2 p.m. hearing and vote on the fate of Roper's job, Assistant Council Administrator Casey Cashio says state law requires the council to convene for the meeting. However, whether or not any action is taken at the hearing—which was previously convened and deferred in June—remains unclear. Wade Shows, Roper's attorney, told Daily Report this morning that he was on his way to a judge's office to request an injunction to postpone the hearing. "They can say that it's been postponed once it's started," Cashio says, "but because it's a public meeting, it has to be held." Shows filed suit on behalf of Roper in district court Tuesday against the council over its attempts to remove Roper from her office. The suit accuses the council of conspiring to fire Roper without cause. Last month, the council

Heck proposes third party plan reviewers as solution to DPW backlog

Although Metro Councilman Ryan Heck's proposal to impose a 10-day deadline for the city-parish Department of Public Works to approve or reject a building permit remains on the council agenda for today's meeting, Heck says he plans to delete the item—which he has repeatedly deferred since its introduction in May—and introduce a new one in its place. The new proposal would allow for third-party review of permit applications to take some of the pressure off of the DPW staff, which has been criticized in recent months for the delay in its plan review process. "Time is money, and trying to get your project started and having it reviewed by DPW has become problematic," says Baton Rouge Growth Coalition Director Larry Bankston. The growth coalition and the Baton Rouge Home Builders Association were among the organizations that have been meeting with Heck and DPW to come up with...

Judge to rule on Common Core suit involving Jindal

Attorneys for Gov. Bobby Jindal and his administration claim that the parents, teachers and charter school operator who filed suit against the governor for blocking state testing of Common Core standards have no authority to do so, Gannett Louisiana reports. But just in case 19th Judicial District Judge Todd Hernandez rules against the governor's position, his attorneys argued in court today that Jindal, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and two of her employees cannot be forced to testify in court or give depositions prior to a court hearing. "They cannot take testimony from a sitting governor," argued Jimmy Faircloth, Jindal's attorney hired to defend him in the case. He says state law makes clear that, "You can't depose a governor … Gov. Jindal is not personally a defendant. He is a defendant in his official capacity." Stephen Kupperman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in court today that Jindal "does raise the specter of privilege," arguing that his...

Lt. gov. race continues to heat up with entrance of Jefferson Parish president

One week after Mayor Kip Holden formally announced he'll run to replace Jay Dardenne as Louisiana's next lieutenant governor, Jefferson Parish President John Young this morning announced that he'll also be on the ballot next fall. "I have a proud record of standing up for Louisiana, and I am running for lieutenant governor to be a strong voice on economic development, tourism and to preserve our unique Louisiana way of life," says Young in a prepared statement issued this morning. Young, a Republican who was elected parish president in 2010 after serving on the parish council, also released his first campaign ad this morning. With plenty of time for more candidates to qualify for next fall's election, Holden is currently the lone Democrat to announce a run. State Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, has officially announced he's running. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, also a Republican, is also...

Influx of child immigrants straining La. courts

For the 1,071 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the southwest border this year and ended up in Louisiana, the path to a future in the U.S. runs through a courtroom on the 24th floor of an office tower in the heart of New Orleans. As Time reports, it's in this courtroom that a rotating detail of judges determines the fate of the immigrant children streaming across the border and into the state. As they arrive in record numbers, the New Orleans Immigration Court is buckling under the strain. During the first six months of 2014, the court has taken on 450 juvenile immigration cases, according to government records obtained by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). That number puts the court on pace to shatter last year's total of 540 cases. Three years ago, it had 71. New Orleans' struggle is part of a pattern. Nationwide, immigration courts have become choke points in the border crisis. Overburdened and underfunded, they are sagging under...

First hearing today on Common Core suit against Jindal

The politically-heated dispute over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards is scheduled for its first hearing before a state district judge. Today's hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., involves a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who support Common Core and accuse the governor of violating the Louisiana Constitution in his actions against the multi-state standards. Jindal, who opposes Common Core, is asking Judge Todd Hernandez to dismiss much of the lawsuit. His lawyer also wants the judge to forbid depositions of the governor, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and other administration officials. Most members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education support Common Core, and the board has joined the lawsuit against Jindal. The lawsuit claims the governor overstepped his authority in suspending testing contracts to stop the...

Confusion a major election issue for some officials

This election season is not only hotly contested across the ballot, but it's also growing rather bizarre in the races where few of us barely pay attention.

Alford: Confusion a major election issue for some officials

This election season is not only hotly contested across the ballot, says Jeremy Alford in his latest column. "It's also growing rather bizarre in the races where few of us barely pay attention," writes Alford. At the heart of one controversy are constables and justices of the peace, who, as of six years ago, were allowed to continue running for re-election past the age of 70 as long as they were elected on or before Aug. 15, 2006. But Alford notes that grandfather clause was removed this session through legislation passed by state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas. And in what Alford says is "one of the oddest twists to emerge from the session," Guillory told him the Louisiana Justices of the Peace and Constables Association requested the bill. "They said they had a problem with people in wheelchairs and oxygen tanks and people with advanced ages who were going around the countryside, and who were not post-certified, with firearms, and they felt it was a danger," Guillory said,...

Legislators to explore Common Core alternatives on Oklahoma trip

A delegation of six Louisiana state representatives will travel to Oklahoma on Aug. 22 to meet with legislators and explore options for replacing Common Core with educational standards that are state-controlled. In June, Oklahoma became the third state to withdraw from Common Core. The delegation will meet with Oklahoma legislators and grassroots education leaders who authored and passed the legislation to reassert state control over standards and assessments, according to a statement released by the Louisiana legislators involved. The delegation will be meeting with, among others, the authors of HB 3399, which repealed Oklahoma's incorporation of Common Core and directed the state to develop new academic standards. The bill passed both houses of the Oklahoma Legislature overwhelmingly and was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. The Louisiana legislators will integrate their findings from Oklahoma into their ongoing efforts to craft solutions for replacing Common Core in Louisiana,...

LaPolitics: Some union memberships dip in volatile climate

Total membership in the Louisiana Association of Educators, based on state statistics released by the national association, dropped to 12,334 in 2012-13, a 19% decrease since 2008-09, and a drop of 10% since 2011-12. Ashley Davies, LAE's communications specialist, tells LaPolitics the losses are due to the economy, retirements and decreased investments in education by the state. She says the numbers "are not a true representation of the overall LAE membership," adding, "We are pleased to report that we have met and exceeded our membership goals for the 2014 calendar year." Asked by email if the membership figures were inaccurate, Davies did not respond. Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, says his group lost roughly 5,000 members after Hurricane Katrina, but has since bounced back to nearly 21,000 members today, up from around 17,000 in 2008-09. It may be too elementary to assume that LFT has picked off members from LAE in recent years, however. "We're...

Executive Editor: While Metro Council dithers, public opinion marches on

The rancorous debate over adoption of an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation puts a spotlight on Baton Rouge's cultural polarity in a way few issues other than race could, says Business Report Executive Editor David Dodson in his latest column. "We are a city deeply divided on an issue most metropolitan areas in the United States have already put to bed without dire consequences to local cultures, families or economies," Dodson writes. "Irrespective of one's personal values and beliefs, this particular culture war is unlikely to produce any winners as long as we continue to wage it." On the bright side, Dodson notes, while the Metro Council dithers, public opinion marches on. "Baton Rougeans know that you can't legislate morality, and they also understand you can't make discrimination fair by decree," writes Dodson. "More to the point, all the ink in all the law books downtown is not going to impact the changes palpably taking place in society.

CABL president calls governor's opposition to Common Core a setback for good government

After several years of establishing a positive trajectory for good government, Gov. Bobby Jindal is putting a question mark on his legacy with his overreach on the issue of Common Core standards in education, says Barry Erwin, president and CEO of the Council for a Better Louisiana. CABL can hardly be counted as a harping critic of the Jindal administration over the years, says Erwin, guest speaker at today's Rotary Club of Baton Rouge luncheon. "It's not that we are against everything the governor does or that we're just being critical," he said. "If anything, we've been accused of being joined at the hip" with the governor in the past. But this is different, he noted. "We need to step back a little, take a deep breath and think about where we stand right now," Erwin says. "Education is the single most important thing we need to get right." The right thing, he said, is to continue the process Jindal approved in 2010 and to stay the course on Common Core, including the use of new...

Jindal amends Common Core suit, arguing PARCC violates federal law

Gov. Bobby Jindal filed an amended petition today asking a judge to prohibit state education leaders from using testing material tied to the Common Core standards in Louisiana's public schools. Jindal's lawsuit, originally filed July 29, is now seeking an injunction that would keep the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Education from administering any standardized tests developed through the testing consortium aligned with Common Core known as PARCC. The injunction request was filed in state district court. Jindal's new argument is that the testing consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, “is the implementation platform for a carefully orchestrated federal scheme to supervise, direct and control educational curriculum, programs of instruction and instructional materials in direct violation of federal law. And the scheme is being perpetrated on the pretext of higher standards promised by Common...

Survey says...

Baton Rougeans expressed more moderate views in this year's CityStats survey than they have in years past. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation says roughly 34% in its 2014 survey identify themselves as moderates, up from 31% the prior year. Inversely, those identifying themselves as "very conservative" fell from 15% to 11%. Responses to progressive policy questions followed suit, with a growing number of respondents supporting legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, same-sex marriage, and an ordinance banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation. Belief in global warming is also up.

The politics of fairness

On Aug. 13, the Metro Council will once again take up the Fairness Ordinance, a controversial piece of legislation that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jenkins looks to appeal, city looks to more annexations

Now that Woody Jenkins has lost his lawsuit challenging the city's annexations of portions of the Mall of Louisiana, two hospitals and a subdivision, the former state lawmaker says he will appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorney Mary Olive Pierson, who represents the city in the annexation suit and argued for more than three hours Monday that Jenkins had no legal standing to file the challenge, says she is not worried about an appeal and is confident the city will be victorious at the appellate level. In the meantime, more annexation petitions are expected. Though the Metro Council Administrator's Office has not received any new annexation requests since July, when several contiguous landowners on River Road petitioned for annexation, Pierson says attorneys for the city are working on getting more properties annexed into the city. Annexation became a flashpoint issue earlier this year amidst efforts to incorporate a city of St. George in unincorporated East Baton Rouge...

Vitter going big for big business

U.S. Sen. David Vitter is the premier butcher for mainline Republican voters in Louisiana, serving up the kind of red meat that keeps the base waiting in line for more.

Alford: Vitter going big for big business

Only U.S. Sen. David Vitter could file a single bill that amalgamates the top conservative issues of the day, says Jeremy Alford in his latest column. "Last week he introduced legislation that prohibits illegal immigrants from not only participating in the president's health care program, but also from receiving tuition tax credits," he writes. "As the 2015 race for governor draws closer, he'll only strengthen his blood-red position, running so far to the right that anyone who attempts to outflank him will fall off the track." But Vitter is a Harvard grad who's been in elected office for 22 years, Alford notes. He knows full well that more ground needs to be covered. "That's why, over the past year, Vitter has been increasingly siding with business and industry on issues important to them in Louisiana," he writes. "The latest example arrived last week when Vitter told C-SPAN and The Associated Press that he supported Common Core, thus aligning himself with the Louisiana Association...

Jindal among GOP presidential possibles visiting Iowa in August

Six Republicans mulling a campaign for the presidency—including Gov. Bobby Jindal—will traverse Iowa over the next two weeks, according to U.S. News & World Report, with most of them devoting multiple days to the pilgrimage. These aren't introductory tours. They've all been there before. But as the calendar turns toward the fall midterms, the lot of contenders knows the time to grab the attention of the most engaged activists and eager volunteers is shrinking fast. The two GOPers with the most extensive Iowa itineraries this month are Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a pair of contenders who are among those most likely to run for president in 2016. But Jindal has a full schedule as well. He will meet with conservative preachers, campaign for Iowa candidates running for office this fall, volunteer for the...

Trending moderate

Is Baton Rouge becoming more progressive—or, at least, less conservative?

Debate in the City on a Hill

The rancorous debate over adoption of an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation puts a spotlight on Baton Rouge's cultural polarity in a way few issues other than race could.

Vitter describes his strong support for Common Core

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter offered definitive support today for the Common Core education standards, a position that puts him at odds with Gov. Bobby Jindal but that could bolster business community backing as the senator fundraises for the 2015 governor's race. "I support the strong standards Louisiana now has in place and think Gov. Jindal's attempt to start from scratch right before the new school year is very disruptive," the senator says in a statement to The Associated Press. Common Core standards are grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in English and math, adopted by more than 40 states. Vitter's statement follows his description of the standards as "very strong, significant, positive standards" in an interview taped for C-SPAN's Newsmakers, set to air Sunday. The comments were the first time Vitter has taken a position on the standards. His backing of Common Core also comes as Jindal is taking steps to undermine the standards and remove them...

LaPolitics: Dems, GOP target 2015 session for shared agenda

While the Democratic and Republican parties in Louisiana have decided to team up to pursue unlimited fundraising possibilities on the federal level (for more, read Jeremy Alford's latest column), there may also be a shared legislative agenda in the works on the state level for the 2015 session. The executive directors from both parties say there are at least three issues they already agree on and are willing to sit together at the committee table to discuss. The first involves the state's qualifying period, which is usually held in the early fall, around August, and less than three months before the primary. "Practically everywhere else around the country it's held in the spring," says Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. "Pushing it up will give us more time to prepare and will settle the fields sooner. I also think it...

Hearing dates set in Common Core lawsuits

Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools. The Associated Press reports Judge Tim Kelley will hear arguments Aug. 15 in a lawsuit filed by 17 state lawmakers who are seeking an immediate suspension of the multi-state English and math standards in schools. The lawsuit alleges the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the education department did not follow state law to enact Common Core. On Aug. 18, Judge Todd Hernandez will consider arguments in a separate lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who have sued Gov. Bobby Jindal. Their lawsuit alleges Jindal violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core. BESE on Tuesday voted to join in the effort against the governor, who in turn filed his own lawsuit in an attempt to...

The numbers game

Since 2008, Baton Rouge Area Foundation has been surveying residents about quality of life in the city, using the findings to put together an annual CityStats report.

Ballot referendum to ban discrimination would only apply to city-parish employees

A referendum to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity that Metro Councilman John Delgado says he's aiming to get on the December ballot—if, as expected, the Metro Council votes down a so-called fairness ordinance next month—would apply only to city-parish employees and companies that do business with the city-parish. Daily Report previously reported that the referendum would mirror the controversial fairness ordinance, which would cover everyone in the city-parish and was deferred until Aug. 13 after four hours of heated debate at last week's Metro Council meeting. But Delgado says the referendum would be limited to the 5,000 or so city-parish employees and businesses that have city-parish contracts. According to the parish attorney's office, the city charter does not contain a provision for the calling of an election for the...

Delgado hopeful 'fairness ordinance' could be put on December ballot

Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish could decide for themselves before the end of the year whether they want to pass the so-called fairness ordinance, which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Metro Councilman John Delgado says if the council fails to pass the ordinance at its next regular meeting on Aug. 13 as expected, he will launch a petition drive to bring the measure to a vote of the people. Given that only 8,569 signatures are needed, he believes he could gather enough signatures in time for the December runoff election. "I think I could get that many signatures in a single weekend," he says. "There is such overwhelming support for this, and it's parishwide so anyone who lives in East Baton Rouge could sign." Delgado has already spoken with the registrar of voters, who told him it would take about one month to review and verify the signatures. The deadline to submit the signatures in time for the December runoff is mid-October, so Delgado...

Early Fox News poll shows 4% of voters want Jindal to get GOP nomination

Fox News prefaces its latest poll results on the 2016 presidential race by noting that it includes hypothetical matchups between prospective candidates that have not yet formally announced a run for office. "Some politicos sneer that it's a waste of time to ask these questions this early and the results are completely worthless," Fox News acknowledges, adding: "If you're still reading, you're an insatiable junkie who doesn't care what others think. Enjoy your fix." The poll was conducted July 20-22 under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research, and it included a random national sample of 1,057 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. Gov. Bobby Jindal, who in recent months has used guest editorials in national publications and speeches in key campaign states to raise his national profile, is included in the poll. When asked which of the prospective Republican candidates they'd like to see take the...

Lawmakers should kick open closed committee doors

The Louisiana Legislature has made great strides in terms of access and the legislative process. Yet the Legislature has failed us when it comes to the transparency of conference committees.

Alford: Lawmakers should kick open closed committee doors

The Louisiana Legislature has made great strides in terms of access and the legislative process, says Jeremy Alford in his latest column. "Reporters get front-row seats during hearings before standing committees and on the House and Senate floors. For the public, testimony and debate are streamed live and archived on the Web," he writes. "Yet the Legislature has failed us when it comes to the transparency of conference committees." Conference committees are required when the House and Senate are unable to agree on changes made to each other's bills, Alford explains. "So the speaker and president assign representatives from both chambers to hammer out the differences and to present a compromise for subsequent floor votes," he writes. "Thing is, conference committee meetings are not public. Sometimes they're not even meetings in the traditional sense, nor do they always involve a closed door." And when the Legislature is in the final hours of a session and there's not always enough...

Editor: Executive overreach issue tongue-ties all but one 6th Congressional District candidate

One of the hot-button issues at a recent forum of the eight Republican candidates running for the 6th Congressional District seat was the perceived executive overreach of President Barack Obama. "It's a familiar lament," writes Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel in her latest column. "Democrats said it of George W. Bush. And now, critics of President Obama feel so strongly that he abuses his constitutional powers when he can't get his way legislatively that they want to take him to court." Riegel says nearly all the 6th District candidates weighed in on the subject and said, if elected, among their top priorities would be reining in the president and restoring Congress to its rightful place in the system of checks and balances. "Given these shared views, how, I asked the candidates, could they square that with the lack of criticism of Gov. Bobby Jindal's many attempts to kill Common Core even when it is clearly the will of the legislative branch and the preference of the...

Paul Ryan's new report recommends dismantling La.'s florist occupational license requirement, among others

A "discussion draft" from the U.S House Budget Committee calls unnecessary state and local occupational licensing regimes like Louisiana's law requiring licenses for florists—a requirement no other state imposes—"rules and regulations that can hurt low-income families," New York Times blog The Upshot reports. The 73-page draft—written by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who chairs the committee—was released Thursday and includes recommendations to reduce poverty and improve social mobility by making changes in state and local policy in education, sentencing, parole and occupational licensing. The draft says unnecessary occupational licensing requirements—like Louisiana laws that forbid monks to sell coffins because they're not licensed funeral directors—can drive up consumer prices and make it more difficult for low- and middle-skill workers to find jobs. The report urges a reduction in the number of jobs that require a license, but...

CABL says Common Core saga represents "disturbing" use of gubernatorial power

In commentary released today by Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, residents of Louisiana are urged to understand that the Common Core debate has gone far beyond a difference of opinion on how Louisiana's children should be educated and has "morphed into a new debate that should prompt everyone who believes in some semblance of the democratic process to raise serious questions about how state government is supposed to work." The real question, CABL says, is "do we want a governor—any governor—to wield authority in such a way that it usurps the processes on which most people believe our country was founded." CABL acknowledges that Gov. Bobby Jindal is well within his rights to change his mind on the subject of academic standards, "but it is not right to then seek to impose that will on the entire state, despite the overwhelming votes of the constitutionally created Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Legislature to the contrary."

LaPolitics: District judges faced with age limit question

Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year. Many of the seats, which carry with them six-year terms, are opening up because judges either want to retire for the obvious reasons—to practice law, be with their families, play golf or fish—or because they have reached the required retirement age of 70. "We're seeing more open seats than we're used to, but it's due mainly to retirement. But what we're all waiting to see is how many judges that are age-limited qualify to run anyway," said a source tracking the races. "A few of them have been talking about it." If a judge turns 70 while in office, he or she is allowed to continue serving but not seek re-election. Also, anyone 70 or older cannot run for judge. Lawmakers, however, passed HB 96 by Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, during this year's session to let voters decide whether the ban should be overturned. With expectations high that the constitutional amendment will...

BR business executives come out on both sides of anti-discrimination ordinance

Among the dozens of proponents and opponents of the proposed ordinance amendment to prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing on the basis of veteran status, gender identity and sexual orientation at the Metro Council meeting Wednesday evening—which ended before the council could vote on the proposal—were business executives who weighed in on each side of the issue. Luke Kissam, president and CEO of Albemarle, asked the council to pass the ordinance in order to help businesses recruit employees from around the nation and globe to come to Baton Rouge. "We compete with cities that have already adopted an ordinance to show that they believe in basic fairness and equality," Kissam said. "This is an opportunity to send the message that we are a community that embraces and values diversity and judges people only on their merits." Executives from Lamar Advertising, Chase Bank and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber echoed Kissam's sentiments. "Over 90% of...

Delgado says he expects Roper to take new attorney position OK'd by council

While all the attention at Wednesday night's Metro Council meeting was focused on the heated debate over the so-called fairness ordinance, the council did tend to a handful of other noteworthy items. Among them: It voted 9-2 to create a new attorney position for the City-Parish Employees' Retirement System that will serve as in-house special legal counsel to the system's board. Though council members say they created the position at the request of the retirement system—adding that the move has been in the works for several months—the position has reportedly been created for embattled Parish Attorney Mary Roper as part of a deal by which she would resign from her current post. Roper declined to comment after Wednesday's meeting. But Councilman John Delgado says, "The retirement board had been asking for this for a while, and the fact it is created does allow Mary to take the position now should she choose to do so … It is my understanding she will take that...

Publisher: La.'s strong credit, bond ratings tell 'the rest of the story'

In his latest column, Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister Jr. says there are a lot of critics, pundits and politicians who "constantly go on about the state budget every year and about how our use of funds is risky for Louisiana." Some even insist we need more taxes to survive, McCollister says. "But instead of listening to those statewide officials, legislators or left-leaning organizations (most of them run by former liberal journalists)—all with their own agenda—why not turn to the experts who make their living determining the state of government finances?" McCollister writes. "National credit firms live or die on the quality of their financial assessments, not on their politics." Since Gov. Bobby Jindal took office in 2008, McCollister notes, Louisiana has received eight credit rating upgrades from the three major credit-rating agencies. "Louisiana's credit ratings are currently the strongest they have been in two decades," he says, citing several...

Jindal outlines his reasons for fighting Common Core

In his latest guest column, Gov. Bobby Jindal outlines why he's fighting against Common Core in a battle that has frayed the governor's relationship with Superintendent of Education John White, as well as the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education—and resulted this week in the filing of two lawsuits in as many days regarding the national education standards. "We believe parents and teachers are our best educators, not government bureaucrats," Jindal says in the column. "To use a football analogy, we think the best strategy on education reform is to hand the ball off to parents and teachers and empower them to improve education quality for our children." The governor cites rising graduation rates in the state, a reduction in the number of failing schools and

Why I fight for local control of education

People often ask, what do I think is the most important issue facing Louisiana? Or, if I could accomplish just one thing as Governor what would it be?

Lawsuit filed to stop Common Core use in La.

Seventeen state lawmakers are heading to court to try to stop Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools. Rep. Brett Geymann, a Republican who opposes the standards, tells The Associated Press the lawsuit was filed today. He says the state education board didn't follow Louisiana's administrative procedures law for rolling out new standards in classrooms. The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a one-time Common Core supporter, now opposes the standards as a federal intrusion into local education. But he and other Common Core critics have been unable to persuade BESE to change course. Lawmakers also upheld use of the standards.

Edwards outlines ways he'd strengthen state budget as governor

Louisiana State Representative John Bel Edwards, D-Amite—the only announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate thus far—says that, if elected governor, he will focus on configuring a prudent state budget that doesn't require mid-year budget cuts. "As governor, I will focus on the budget in a way that quite frankly we have not been doing," says Edwards, who was guest speaker today at the Baton Rouge Press Club. "If we don't have a surge of revenue coming into the state coffers between now and December, we're going to be cutting higher education, and that's an awful way to try to move this state forward." Edwards says he will focus on improving the budget in three main ways: by growing the economy in a way that allows for net new revenue for the state; by examining all of the tax exemptions on the book and eliminating those "that aren't producing the results that were promised"; and by accepting federal funds "when it makes sense," whether it's expanding broadband Internet...

Talking Points: David LaCerte

Gov. Bobby Jindal in June elevated David LaCerte from deputy secretary to secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. LaCerte replaces former Congressman Rodney Alexander, who stepped down after less than a year. While LaCerte, a former Marine Corps infantryman, does not supervise the federal Veterans Affairs system, he does hold strong opinions about what the scandal-plagued VA must do to establish trust with veterans and the rest of the American people.

The rest of the story

There are a lot of critics, pundits and politicians who constantly go on about the state budget every year and about how our use of funds is risky for Louisiana. Some even insist we need more taxes to survive.

Executive overreach

One of the hot-button issues at a recent forum of the eight Republican candidates running for the Sixth Congressional District seat was the perceived executive overreach of President Barack Obama.

Sex and this city

Let's talk sex. While we're at it, let's talk politics. What the heck. Let's go all the way. I want to talk sex, politics and religion. Wish me luck.

New Common Core procurement process not an attempt to reopen broader policy debate, Jindal aide says

Gov. Bobby Jindal still wants Louisiana out of Common Core, says Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin. But beginning a new procurement process for student tests is not an opportunity for Jindal to make that policy argument once again, Plotkin says. "All [an RFP] does is ensure that the Department of Education is taking part in a competitive bid process that's in accordance with the law," he says. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that the Procurement Support Team, an advisory group including representatives of the Attorney General's Office, the Legislative Fiscal Office, the Division of Administration and the House and Senate, must be brought in to help the Department of Education ensure that any new RFP complies with the law. When asked if the team would engage in a policy debate about the content of the tests, she answered, "Yes, that's the statutory framework for PST." The RFP sets out contractual terms and the state's rights,...

'Business Report': Law firms adding data security to list of specialties

Though data security breaches have been the stuff of news headlines for years, the dangers may not have hit home for many people until a major U.S. retailer fell victim to electronic hackers. As Business Report notes in a feature from the current issue, last year's security breach at Target Corp.—the third-largest retailer in America—compromised the credit card accounts of as many as 40 million people who had shopped at Target stores, forcing many to cope with credit disruptions. Investigators concluded the criminals captured data that was stored on the magnetic stripes of cards that customers had swiped at cash registers. The breach put into the hands of the attackers everything they would need to create counterfeit cards. The rising incidence of companies failing to protect data they collect from customers and vendors sends concerns rippling through businesses of all kinds. Many whose data worries previously centered on storing information in ways that ensure...

LaPolitics: Senate race officially most expensive waged in La.

If you're already growing weary of seeing all those television ads about Louisiana's hotly contested U.S. Senate race, then you'll take little comfort in learning that there's now more money flowing into the candidates' campaign accounts than in any other comparable statewide election in recent history. So far the two lead contenders have deposited more than $21.5 million into their accounts, with more certainly to come. Incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat, has raised $13.5 million this cycle. That's nearly $2 million more than she collected during her entire 2008 re-election campaign—and there's still three and a half months to go until the November primary. Her lead challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, has raised $8 million thus far. That well exceeds the $2.8 million that was raised by Landrieu's last major challenger, Treasurer John Kennedy, six years ago. When coupled with all of the outsider spending by third-party groups, John Couvillon,...

Looking back, looking forward

As Baton Rouge continues to look at ways to reshape its infrastructure to fit a complete streets model, it might be helpful to look back at how the city grew to where it is today. The US Geological Survey has historical maps of the city dating back to 1908, when areas like Southdowns and along Highland and Perkins roads were little more than swamplands and fields.

Jindal slams Obamacare in Fox News column

In a guest column for Fox News, Gov. Bobby Jindal says that when it comes to Obamacare, the American public should feel as if "someone promised to give you a car, and then reneged on that pledge." That's because "Obama's failed and discredited campaign promise to lower health insurance premiums has cost the average American family an amount equal to the price of many new cars," Jindal writes. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Jindal says, one of then-Senator Obama's "most audacious promises" was that his health plan would reduce premiums by $2,500 for the average family. "His repeatedly made his pledge on videotape," writes Jindal, who includes links to the pledge. "But health insurance premiums have continued to rise—not just despite ObamaCare, but in many cases because of the law's new regulations and mandates." Citing a recent analysis by think tank America Next—for which Jindal is honorary chairman—the governor says that since 2008 Americans have seen their...

Cassidy edges closer to Landrieu in campaign cash

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu continues to pull in more campaign money than her chief Republican competitor, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, but she's spending more as well, sending her into the most heated portion of the Senate race with a narrowing advantage of cash on hand. Landrieu's campaign announced today that the Democratic senator, seeking her fourth term, raised $2.1 million in the most recent fundraising quarter, from April 1 through June 30. Cassidy's campaign said it raised $1.6 million for the same period. The contenders for the Nov. 4 election have similar amounts of cash in the bank: Landrieu reports $6.2 million, while Cassidy reports $5.8 million. The long-shot candidate for the Senate seat, Republican and tea party favorite Rob Maness, hasn't announced his latest fundraising figures. But he's lagged far behind both Landrieu and Cassidy, who is running with the support of the GOP establishment. Full reports listing expenses and collections from all U.S. Senate and congressional...

McAllister should drop GOP, run as independent

Congressman Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, is motoring into the fall elections carrying more baggage than Delta. His campaign finances are shaky, a few dynamics that favored his candidacy just a month ago are turning sideways and he has lost key supporters. Then there's his self-made political scandal that gave new meaning to the old phrase regarding loose lips sinking ships.

Alford: McAllister should drop GOP, run as independent

Congressman Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, "is motoring into the fall elections carrying more baggage than Delta," says Jeremy Alford in his latest column. "His campaign finances are shaky, a few dynamics that favored his candidacy just a month ago are turning sideways and he has lost key supporters," Alford writes. "Then there's his self-made political scandal that gave new meaning to the old phrase regarding loose lips sinking ships." Alford notes it wasn't long after The Ouachita Citizen posted the infamous kissing video on its website that McAllister subsequently announced he wouldn't stand for re-election. Then rumors started circulating that he would indeed run, possibly as a Democrat. "Part of the scuttlebutt sprouted roots in reality when the congressman announced his re-election campaign last month, but the tidbit about the party switch hasn't come true. Not yet at least," Alford writes. "McAllister did tell me he was approached by representatives from the Democratic...

Maness: Congress shouldn't rule out impeachment of Obama

Rob Maness, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, believes the House of Representatives should "do its constitutional duty" and consider drafting articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama on grounds that he has over-reached his Constitutional authority. "There are valid reasons to at least look at it," Maness said during his appearance at the Press Club of Baton Rouge today. "I would not have a problem listening to the trial and basing a decision on the evidence" if he were elected to the Senate and the Senate voted to impeach Obama, he said. Maness, who has tea party backing and the endorsement of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, also said he considers current problems with illegal immigration as an "existential threat" to the United States. Maness said the first step is to secure America's borders "and then see what reforms we might need to make, and each reform should be a separate effort. There should be no comprehensive immigration reform." Asked to...

Lawmakers seek new SIPC directors, help for Stanford victims

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging President Barack Obama to nominate directors to an industry-backed organization who will help the victims in Allen Stanford's $7 billion scheme try to recover some of their losses. In a letter from 10 members in the House of Representatives—including Louisiana Reps. Bill Cassidy and Charles Boustany—and a separate letter from Sen. David Vitter, the lawmakers say they believe the Securities Investor Protection Corp. needs a cultural overhaul that will put investors' interests first. "The victims of the Stanford Ponzi scheme cannot afford to continue with the status quo. New perspectives are required in the SIPC to protect the interests of these victims moving forward," reads the letter from the 10 House lawmakers. "Victims of the Stanford scheme have been paid a meager $30 million to cover their...

BESE offers up compromise on Common Core controversy

Leaders of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have proposed a compromise that could help bridge the growing divide between BESE and Gov. Bobby Jindal over Common Core educational standards and associated tests. BESE President Chas Roemer, Vice President Jim Garvey and Secretary-Treasurer Holly Boffy outlined their proposal in a four-page letter to Jindal earlier today. It calls for using a hybrid test during the upcoming school year that combines science and social studies questions from the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, or LEAP test, as well as English and math questions from the tests used in the Common Core program. While the proposal may not satisfy the governor's stated goal of getting Louisiana out of the Common Core program, Roemer says his plan would allow educators to begin preparing for the upcoming school year, which starts in less than four weeks. He believes it will also satisfy the technical arguments the Jindal administration has tried to use...

New congressional caucus aims to boost refiners

Refiners fighting against biofuel mandates, environmental regulations and changes in U.S. export policy have new allies on Capitol Hill, with the launch Wednesday of a formal congressional caucus dedicated to the industry. FuelFix.com reports 25 lawmakers have thus far joined the Congressional Refinery Caucus, formed to highlight the critical role of the facilities that transform crude oil into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other products. In an opinion piece describing the new group, co-founders Rep. Pete Olson, a Texas Republican, and Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who represents parts of Baton Rouge, say the oil and gas space "has been painted with a broad brush." The group is needed to shine a light on a part of the oil industry that is mysterious to many policymakers, they say. "As crucial as upstream operations and midstream pipeline assets are to our districts, refineries remain an integral part of the equation," the pair writes. "Refineries are critically important to...

Publisher: La. voters shouldn't let McAllister, Edwards make La. a national punchline

"Like it or not," says Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister Jr. in his latest column, "Louisiana voters are going to have to endure the jokes and humiliation that come with having a cast of characters running for Congress." Of course, McCollister is referring to "the kissing congressman" Vance McAllister of the 5th District, and former governor and ex-con Edwin Edwards of the 6th. While many are still puzzled as to how an 86-year-old ex-con with a 1-year-old child or a married congressman recently caught kissing a married staffer—after he ran on a "family values" platform—would have the audacity to offer themselves for public service, McCollister says there is a larger question for the voters of these districts. "If Edwards and McAllister think so little of their families, what respect or concern could they possibly have for you, the constituents they represent?" he wonders. Everyone is deserving of forgiveness, McCollister says, and McAllister and Edwards...

Carville: Control of US Senate could be decided in La.

In a new guest column feature on The Hill website, "The Ragin' Cajun," James Carville, says there's plenty of good reasons for people across the country to keep an eye on the ever-tightening Senate race in Louisiana. "The control of the United States Senate could be determined in Louisiana. It is entirely plausible that the runoff on Dec. 6 will decide which party will have the majority in the Senate—that is, six weeks after Election Day in November," Carville says. And though "the news has yet to penetrate the Beltway, where it is believed that United States Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) will surely face [Democratic incumbent Mary] Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff," Carville says the race is getting more interesting because former Air Force colonel and Republican Rob Maness "has started to stir the pot." Plus, Carville says, "the ramifications of the Senate election on the 2015 governor's race are utterly breathtaking." Carville says "the political brains" in Louisiana...

Former NOLA mayor Nagin sentenced to 10 years in prison

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor—including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan handed down the sentence. Nagin was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. The 58-year-old Democrat had defiantly denied any wrongdoing after his 2013 indictment and during his February trial. Moments before sentencing, a subdued Nagin made a brief statement, thanking the judge for her professionalism. He made no apologies. "I trust that God's going to work all this out," he said. After the sentencing Nagin smiled and hugged supporters as he walked out of the courtroom with his wife, Seletha, and...

Jindal, Wisconsin governor team up for 'Politico' column on school choice

In a new guest column featured on the Politico website, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ask: "What's Obama's problem with school choice?" In the column, the governors accuse the Obama administration of "taking actions designed to stifle, and even block outright, programs that give children and parents more educational choices." The governors say the administration has taken such steps in both Louisiana and Wisconsin. "In Louisiana, we will offer spots to nearly 9,000 students in private school choice programs this coming academic year, roughly 7,000 more students than in 2011-12," reads the column. "Thirteen thousand applied this year, which shows how many parents in failing schools want an opportunity to explore other options for their children." The column concludes with the governors saying they hope the president and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder "will work with us to expand educational opportunities to students—particularly students in failing...

St. George proponents say annexation of L'Auberge wouldn't derail petition, budget

Although L'Auberge Casino & Hotel officials haven't requested the River Road site be annexed into the City of Baton Rouge, proponents of the city of St. George incorporation effort say they're prepared for such a request eventually now that a company with 630 acres near the casino has filed a petition for annexation. "As long as the law is followed, we will not protest if the L'Auberge Casino would like to be included inside the city limits of Baton Rouge," says Lionel Rainey III in a prepared statement. For any parcel of land in the unincorporated portions of East Baton Rouge Parish to be annexed into Baton Rouge, it must border land that is already within the city limits. While the 630 acres up for annexation consideration at the Metro Council's July 23 meeting is not directly connected to the L'Auberge property (

6th District GOP candidates tout conservative credentials at BR forum

The eight Republican candidates running for the 6th Congressional District seat tried to prove their conservative credentials to a receptive audience today at a forum sponsored by the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish. "I am a Christian, I'm pro-life, pro-family, I love this state and I love south Louisiana," said Garret Graves, who most recently headed the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Said 28-year-old businessman Paul Dietzel II a short time later, "I'm pro-life, pro-family, pro-gun and pro-6th district." The crowd of 100 or so found much to applaud in the candidates' answers, which differed in style but not much in substance. All advocate repealing some or all of the Affordable Care Act, which retired Navy Captain and tea party activist Bob Bell called an "idiotic law." All favor holding tough on immigration laws, building a bigger wall along the Texas border, and "putting every illegal immigrant who comes to Louisiana on a bus, dropping them...

La. lawmakers refuse to hold veto session

Louisiana lawmakers won't try to override Gov. Bobby Jindal's vetoes from the recently ended legislative session. The Associated Press reports both the House and Senate have voted to cancel the veto override session set to start this week. A vote tally released today by the Senate president and House speaker shows that 34 of 39 senators and 64 of 105 representatives voted against returning to Baton Rouge for the override session by Monday's midnight deadline. All that was needed to kill the session was a majority vote of one legislative chamber. The decision wasn't surprising. Lawmakers have never held a veto session since the current state constitution was enacted four decades ago. Jindal vetoed 12 bills from the legislative session, including several that received overwhelming support. But there was little outcry for the override session.

Super PAC offers Vitter more than money

While the Fund for Louisiana's Future was originally introduced as a vehicle to help drive U.S. Sen. David Vitter to the governor's mansion, it now appears the super PAC will not be a one-trick pony. Sure, the junior senator will likely benefit from the bulk of expenditures by the conclusion of the 2015 election cycle, but other issues and politicians are beginning to fall under its umbrella as well. Additionally, the end game of this broadening scope will help Vitter's politics just as much as the direct spending.

Alford: Super PAC offers Vitter more than money

While the Fund for Louisiana's Future was originally introduced as a vehicle to help drive U.S. Sen. David Vitter to the governor's mansion, columnist Jeremy Alford says it now appears the super PAC will not be a one-trick pony. "Sure, the junior senator will likely benefit from the bulk of expenditures by the conclusion of the 2015 election cycle, but other issues and politicians are beginning to fall under its umbrella as well," Alford writes in his latest column. "Additionally, the end game of this broadening scope will help Vitter's politics just as much as the direct spending." Alford notes a new web-only media buy from the Fund for Louisiana's Future, overseen by Charlie Spies of Washington, D.C.-based law firm Clark Hill, turns the spotlight on state Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. "The banner ads thank Donelon, who doesn't seem to be facing any real opposition, for 'standing up to the federal government and fighting to protect Louisiana families from skyrocketing flood...

Voters should send clear message

Like it or not, Louisiana voters are going to have to endure the jokes and humiliation that come with having a cast of characters running for Congress. I specifically am referring to "the kissing congressman," Vance McAllister (5th District) and former governor and ex-con Edwin Edwards (6th District).

More than an IT guy

Though data security breaches have been the stuff of news headlines for years, the dangers may not have hit home for many people until a major U.S. retailer fell victim to electronic hackers.

BR business leaders outraged over Jindal's latest Common Core move

Business leaders are outraged by the latest salvo in the escalating battle between Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Department of Education over the Common Core education standards. In a letter Wednesday, the Division of Administration restricted Superintendent of Education John White's authority to execute contracts. While he previously had the authority to execute contracts of up to $20,000, the letter says he now must get approval from the Office of Contractual Review for any contract exceeding $2,000. "I cannot be more disappointed in the leadership of the state," says Lane Grigsby, who opposed Jindal's efforts in the recent legislative session to dismantle Common Core. "They scream when Obama uses his executive authority to do what he wants, but no one stands up and tells our local little emperor he's got no clothes." Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says her...

News alert: Jindal restricts White's authority to approve contracts exceeding $2K

The Jindal administration has restricted Superintendent of Education John White's authority to execute contracts of more than $2,000. Previously, White had the authority to execute contracts of up to $20,000. White was notified of the decision by the Division of Administration in a letter dated Wednesday. "Any professional, personal, consulting or social services contracts exceeding $2,000 which your agency enters into from this date forward will require the approval of the Office of Contractual Review," reads the letter. The move comes amidst escalating tensions between White and the governor over the implementation of Common Core education standards in public schools. On Tuesday, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to seek outside lawyers for guidance in the growing dispute over Jindal's efforts to undermine Common Core. Read Daily Report PM for more...

La. state legislature the least gender diverse

For the second year in a row, the Louisiana state legislature has the lowest representation of women in the nation, with just 12.5% women representatives, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics. Of the 144 members of the Louisiana legislature, just 18 are women, up from 17 female representatives in 2013 and 16 in 2012. Along with Louisiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama and Wyoming are among the states with the lowest percentage of women state legislators. At 41%, Colorado has the highest percentage of female state legislators, followed by Vermont, Arizona, Minnesota and New Hampshire. The national percentage of state legislators who are women remains unchanged from 2013, at 24.2%. Louisiana's rank in terms of gender diversity in the state legislature peaked in 2005, when the state was ranked 34th. That year, there were 25 women state legislators out of 144, yielding a 17.4% proportion. The...

Lawmakers should avoid hitting cruise control

With a tempestuous debate over Common Core nearing its peak and congressional elections lying in wait behind the curtains of this humid summer, most state lawmakers aren't flipping their calendars ahead some 280 days or so to pencil in priorities for the 2015 regular session. But they should be doing just that.

Alford: Lawmakers should avoid hitting cruise control

With a tempestuous debate over Common Core nearing its peak and congressional elections lying in wait behind the curtains of this humid summer, columnist Jeremy Alford says most state lawmakers aren't flipping their calendars ahead some 280 days or so to pencil in priorities for the 2015 regular session. "But they should be doing just that," Alford writes in his latest column. "Barring a special session, the spring lawmaking assembly will be their last opportunity to woo voters before the lot of them run for re-election on the regular fall ballot." But, if history is any guide, Alford says next year's session will be marked by safe decisions rather than bold decisiveness. "Voters best remember politicians for the last thing they did, and doing nothing is markedly better than inciting the masses (Like a horse using its tail to swat away biting insects, the native species indigenous to the State Capitol in Baton Rouge is genetically engineered to act and react with caution at this...

News alert: Attorney general: Annexations do not invalidate St. George petition signatures

The city's annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and other properties owned by Baton Rouge General Hospital and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center will not affect the validity of the St. George petition drive, according to an an opinion issued today by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. The East Baton Rouge Parish attorney's office requested the opinion last month after the Metro Council voted to annex the properties into the city. At issue was whether the annexation would invalidate the ongoing petition drive because the boundaries of the proposed City of St. George are now different from what was delineated on the petition that voters have signed. In his ruling, Caldwell says, "It is premature to discuss the validity and sufficiency of any petition for incorporation . .