The Republican trio of State Sen. Mike Michot, Speaker of the House Jim Tucker and Gov. Bobby Jindal is hosting a $500 per couple fund raiser for fellow Republican state Rep. Don Trahan from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Blue Dog Cafe on Pinhook Road.
Michot characterizes the event as a way to help re-build Trahan's re-election war chest and a way to show unity in the Acadiana delegation. "A lot of legislators are having fund raisers right now; there were four last night in Baton Rouge," Michot says. "Most of them spent all of their money on their campaigns."
First elected in 2003, Trahan narrowly defeated independent Nancy Landry in the October primary to become the most senior member of the House from the Acadiana area. Tucker subsequently named him Education Committee chairman. "He's in a key leadership position in the House," Michot says.
Michot says he is expecting Democratic and independent legislators to show up at tonight's event. "I'm working hard to see that we work together as a group and bring some funding to Acadiana," says the senator, who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Michot says the Acadiana delegation won't always see eye-to-eye but cites as an example the Lafayette delegation's decision this week to collectively support the six-laning of U.S. Hwy. 90 from Pinhook Road to Albertson Parkway in Broussard. In calling his second special session, which starts Sunday, Jindal asked the delegation if it could come together on a road project that would help Lafayette's traffic problems, promising to earmark funding from the $1 billion state surplus.
Other projects considered were the widening of Verot School and Kaliste Saloom roads, but both of those improvements are in a waiting pattern for various reasons (underground sewage on Verot and ongoing negotiations with the state on Kaliste Saloom). "They're not ready for extra funding right now," Michot says. So the decision was made to support the Hwy. 90 widening, which means $20 million will be earmarked for the project in the special session. Had the lawmakers not been on the same page, they likely would not have received those surplus dollars, Michot says. "Not every part of the state got dollars toward a specific project."