BARHAM STATE'S TOP SPORTSMAN Term-limited state Sen. Robert Barham will serve as the next secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal announced last week. On paper, Barham's credentials appear to be a good match. Aside from being a Republican like Jindal, he previously chaired the powerful Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee and is currently a member of the Senate panel that oversees practically all wildlife and fisheries issues.
But geography, more than anything else, likely factored into Jindal's decision, especially since a roar of dissatisfaction has erupted in north Louisiana due to the governor-elect's numerous appointments from the southern part of the state. As for Barham, even though he's from the piney woods of Morehouse Parish, he was mentored in part by late Terrebonne Parish Sen. Claude B. Duval, and spent childhood summers at the Duval family home in Houma. "I spent a lot of time over near Last Island growing up, and I still feel like Terrebonne Parish is my second home," Barham says. "Even though I might be a redneck, I've always had a real affection for the coast."
Barham was among the very few north Louisiana lawmakers who took an interest in coastal-related issues in recent years, even personally sponsoring legislation with others from the bayou regions. As the new department secretary, Barham says that passion will continue and he plans to focus on challenges in the coastal zone in his first days. "That's something I really want to sit down and figure out with the governor," he says. "We have a lot of challenges."
Barham believes foreign imports will continue to be a hurdle to commercial fisheries and fresh approaches may be needed in the future. He also notes that recreational interests still need help recovering from the 2005 storms. "I'm hoping that the [recreational versus commercial fishing] debate doesn't become a line in the sand, and it's something I plan on paying attention to," he says. ... FOLLOWING FLORIDA'S LEAD With everything Louisiana and Florida have in common in regards to insurance challenges and hurricanes, it came as little surprise when Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal hosted Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for an in-depth meeting on the issues. Jindal says he was particularly interested in the need for a national catastrophic insurance plan, and the way Florida has addressed similar problems that Louisiana is now facing.
Dan Juneau, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, says the odds are probably long against such legislation passing, but it's a reasonable project for the governor and the governor-elect to be pursuing. "Aside from the national catastrophe fund, one would hope that Gov.-elect Jindal doesn't follow Gov. Crist's lead in how to handle a property insurance crisis," he adds, noting the system in Florida that forces insurers to write coverage and creates unfunded liability for the state in the billions.
Lawmakers are also paying close attention to Florida. Earlier this year, a group of legislators from south Louisiana traveled to Florida on a "fact-finding" mission. Sen. Reggie Dupre, a Terrebonne Parish Democrat who attended the taxpayer-funded trip to Tallahassee, says two days were spent meeting with Florida lawmakers and insurance representatives. The key meeting was held with Florida Sen. Bill Posey, a Republican who recently sponsored the state's far-reaching insurance reform program.
Posey guided legislation that lowered rates for homeowners. It came as welcome relief to the hurricane-prone state, but Floridians will only continue to enjoy the decreases if the state doesn't see another devastating storm. At that point, premiums on homes and cars would rise as the state deals with mountains of claims through its insurer of last resort. Many lawmakers correctly predict that insurers in Louisiana might not want to buy into the whole plan, but bits and pieces of it may surface during the upcoming regular session. ... GOP LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, DELEGATES PREPPED With Rep. Jim Tucker of Algiers seemingly headed for the speaker's seat and a new term kicking off next year, the Republican Delegation has selected its next legislative leaders. Rep. Jane Smith of Bossier City and Sen.-elect Danny Martiny of Kenner will serve as co-chairs of the delegation over the next four years. The Republican Delegation has its strongest presence yet in the Louisiana Legislature with 66 total combined members ' 50 members in the House and 16 in the Senate. Both are historical highs since the delegation's inception in 1984.
Louisiana's Republican voters will head to the polls on Jan. 22 at 11 different caucus sites to cast their ballots for delegates and alternate delegates. Louisiana will have a total of 47 delegates and 44 alternates attend the national convention in Minneapolis next year. Local Republicans from Lafayette, Evangeline, St. Landry, Vermilion, Acadia, St. Martin and Iberia parishes can cast votes in Lafayette on Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 5 p.m until 8 p.m. at the Family Church (223 Stone Ave.).
Under RNC Rules, Chairman Roger F. Villere Jr., National Committeeman Ross Little Jr. and National Committeewoman Kay Kellogg Katz serve as automatic national convention delegates. ... MORE ELECTION CHANGES? Although poll workers received a pay increase during the regular session this year, some are still stirring about the long, sometimes unproductive hours they have to work. They're taking their grievances directly to the top, requesting Secretary of State Jay Dardenne make a push for fewer hours in the 2008 regular session.
Mick McIlwain, a poll commissioner in New Orleans, contends that even though the polls are open 14 hours (from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), commissioners are on duty for at least 15 hours setting up machines and performing other duties. "My experience is that there is very little voter turnout during the first and last hours of voting, and those voting at those times could easily vote during the reduced voting hours," he says. "In my opinion, the long hours required are the main problem in recruiting new commissioners. A change is long overdue."
Earlier this year, commissioners-in-charge saw their pay jump from $150 to $250 per day, while other workers either saw their pay of $50 or $100 double.
Contributor: Jeremy Alford
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.