In a rare split with his party's leadership, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal is siding with Democrats, and Gov. Kathleen Blanco, in an ongoing battle over expansion of a popular children's health insurance program. President Bush recently vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would have added an additional $35 million over five years to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP targets families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. The bill also would have added an estimated 4 million children to SCHIP, which now covers some 6.6 million children nationwide. In Louisiana, the bill would have made approximately 10,000 more children eligible for the program. Funds for the expansion would come from higher tobacco taxes, including a 61 cent increase on a pack of cigarettes.
In opposing the bill, Bush and other Republicans have argued that the bill undercuts private insurance by expanding the program to families that make up to 2 Â½ to 3 times the federal poverty rate. Aside from Jindal, Louisiana's Republican delegation has stood by the president. Sen. David Vitter and Congressmen Charles Boustany, Richard Baker, and Jim McCrery all expressed support for Bush's veto, as well opposing an upcoming attempt to override that veto. Jindal says he plans to vote for overriding the veto, which will require a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate. The vote is expected to come up within the next two weeks.
Jindal had originally sided with Republicans on the issue. He voted against an SCHIP expansion bill in August but changed his vote this month after several bipartisan compromises were made in the legislation. Jindal drew some criticism for his original vote against the program from his Democratic rivals in the governor's race. Sate Sen. Walter Boasso has recently been running an ad that mentions that vote, along with other cuts Jindal made while he was head of the state's Department of Health and Hospitals, in an effort to portray the congressman as having "no heart" on important health care issues. Jindal has responded with a detailed rebuttal of Boasso's ad, defending his service as head of DHH and emphasizing his support for SCHIP expansion. Jindal says he took issue with the original SCHIP legislation because of provisions that threatened to limit choices for seniors on Medicare and raid the Medicare Trust Fund. ... KENNEDY: THE PERSISTENT CANDIDATE Even though Republican Treasurer John Kennedy is facing no opposition and will be re-elected, his campaign finance report reads like one belonging to a politician under heavy fire. He has an astounding $367,000 media buy in escrow and there's presently a new ad up in strategic markets. Kennedy also dropped roughly $41,000 on production costs last month ' after qualifying was over. He is spending thousands on Internet advertising with the likes of DeadPelican.com, BayouBuzz.com and PoliticsLA.com. Most notably, Kennedy's camp is dishing out payments ranging from $500 to $750 for "e-mail consulting" to Pat Bergeron of Baton Rouge, the mastermind behind LANewslink.com, a conservative-leaning blog and news source. Kennedy seems to be taking a cue from the playbook of congressman and fellow Republican Jindal. During his re-election to the House last year, Jindal dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on media buys, despite facing only token opposition. The strategy was simple ' his bid for governor was right around the corner and federal dollars cannot be spent on state campaigns, or visa-versa. As for Kennedy, it seems more likely than ever that he's gearing up to run in 2008 against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from New Orleans. ... EARLY VOTING RUNS THROUGH OCT. 13 You don't have to wait to cast your ballot in this year's election. Voters either unable to make it to the polls on Oct. 20, or who may just want to get their election duties out of the way, can turn in early ballots this week. The early voting period runs through Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Lafayette Parish Registrar of Voters office downtown at 1010 Lafayette St. The office is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. A picture ID is required to vote. Those unable to make it to the polls on Oct. 20 may also request a mail-in absentee ballot from the Secretary of State's office. Voters can also view sample ballots online at the secretary of state's Web site by selecting "candidate ballot number information" and entering their parish and precinct number. For more information, call the Lafayette Parish Registrar of Voters Office at 291-7140 or visit www.sos.louisiana.gov.
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
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District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
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New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
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"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
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State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
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White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
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