KEATY FUND RAISER NETS NEARLY $100,000 Judge Phyllis Keaty’s re-election campaign kicked off last week with a major fund raiser netting just under $100,000. The event, held at River Oaks’ Napoleon Ballroom, drew a crowd of approximately 350 people, including City-Parish President Joey Durel, Sheriff Mike Neustrom, state Sen. Don Cravins and state Sen. Nick Gautreaux. Keaty, a Republican, was first elected as a 15th Judicial District judge in 1998 and is a co-founder of the district’s Family Court. Keaty is up for re-election on the Oct. 4 ballot. Thus far, no other candidates have announced. Qualifying for the race ends July 11.
Nancy Landry, a local family law counselor who served as a clerk to Keaty for three years, chaired the fund raiser. Landry, also known for her narrow loss to Don Trahan in last year’s District 31 state representative race, recently launched the public affairs firm Pelican Strategies, which is managing Keaty’s campaign.
JINDAL STAFF SHAKEUP? Now that Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed the legislative pay raise, the biggest looming question is what the fallout will be with the Legislature — and possibly Jindal’s staff. Relations between legislators and Jindal’s staff were already on shaky ground prior to the pay raises exploding and dwarfing every other issue, and Jindal all but admitted that he’d governed the session in abstentia with his mea culpa last week. Jindal let his inner circle deal with the multiple brush fires that ignited in the first months of his administration, and it could be Jindal’s staff that winds up getting burned in the aftermath.
There’s already been one high-profile casualty, as Jindal’s legislative director, Tommy Williams, recently resigned after less than six months on the job. And in an Advocate column last week, editorial writer Lanny Keller made the case that Jindal Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell could be next in the line of fire. While stopping short of saying that Teepell should be fired, Keller makes clear that having a more seasoned, senior chief of staff could go a long way toward restoring the Jindal administration’s relationship with lawmakers. Further grist from the rumblings and rumor mill: veteran Louisiana political consultant Roy Fletcher thinks that Jindal’s Chief Counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, will be the first to go.
LEVEE FUNDING DEMAND UNDERMINES COASTAL RESTORATION Louisiana’s share of levee construction out of a $14.8 billion federal budget is $1.8 billion. Even more stunning than the sum is the time frame: the state needs to come up with the funds within 3 years. State coastal tzar Garret Graves says it’s an egregious amount for Congress to demand from Louisiana. “The bottom line is there is no way possible for the state of Louisiana to come up with the amount of money that Washington is asking of us,” Graves told The Times-Picayune.
Last week, a Senate plan that would have allowed Louisiana to pay its share of the levee costs over 30 years was stripped out of an Iraq war supplemental finance bill by the House and replaced by the 3-year provision. President Bush signed the bill, and Graves says the $1.8 billion payment would drain coastal restoration coffers, crippling dozens of wetlands projects already authorized by Congress.
NEW ETHICS LAW PLAYING FAVORITES The ethics “clean up” legislation Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law appears to play favorites with three legislators and their relatives. The special treatment came via legislation filed to fix flaws in ethics laws approved during Jindal’s February special session on ethics.
The special provisions benefit state Sen. John Smith, D-Leesville; state Rep. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro; and state Rep. Rick Nowlin, R-Natchitoches.
One provision allows Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association President Chris John to lobby the Louisiana Legislature despite that his father-in-law, Sen. Smith, is a lawmaker and a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee — which oversees much of the energy industry’s activities. It’s a new privilege designed specifically for John’s situation.
Another provision allows Ellington to keep his wife, Brenda, as his $54,000-a-year legislative assistant, an arrangement the Louisiana Board of Ethics and a district court said violated state conflict of interest and nepotism laws.
A third provision helps Nowlin’s engineering firm keep doing business with governmental entities. That business can continue through Jan. 7, 2012. The prior law would have prevented sustaining those relationships unless there was an ongoing contract.
Former Ethics Board member Mike Johnson told The Advocate the myriad exceptions makes Louisiana’s ethics laws “like a piece of Swiss cheese.”
“You don’t have a general law people can look to and understand,” he said.
Contributors: Scott Jordan, Nathan Stubbs, Leslie Turk and Mary Tutwiler
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.