‘LaPolitics:’ Former Louisiana official operating White House hotline

If members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation decide to use the hotline set up by the White House to address their high-priority coronavirus issues, they’ll hear a familiar voice on the other end of the phone. Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, has tapped former Congressman John Fleming of Minden to head up the effort. Fleming, a physician, represented Louisiana’s 4th District from 2009 to 2017 and made his exit from elected life after an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2016. He worked briefly as the deputy assistant secretary of U.S. Health Information Technology Reform before Trump appointed him as the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development two years ago. 

—If there are “severe delays” with the ongoing census survey, which relies on door-to-door counts, the federal government may need to ask Congress to extend the deadline, John Thompson, the director of the U.S. Census Bureau from 2013 to 2017, recently told The Guardian. It’s a developing storyline that Louisiana lawmakers are watching closely, especially since the Legislature is expected to take up the task of redistricting in 2021. Members of the House and Senate rely upon the census count to create new lines for election districts every 10 years.

—So far, 18 states have enacted budget legislation in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, including measures that make supplemental appropriations and withdraw cash from rainy day funds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Louisiana, budget officials are taking the crisis day by day, with the clock running on the ongoing regular session until June 1. Lawmakers should reconvene in Baton Rouge sometime in mid-May. Until then, it’s unknown how Louisiana will take its place alongside states that have already taken coronavirus-related measures. 

They said it: “I was quite stunned,”—Freshman state Rep. Tammy Phelps of Caddo Parish, upon discovering how few elected women serve in Louisiana politics, on KTBS-TV.  

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com

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