Lawmakers have weighed in on issues as varied as feeding tubes, human cloning and the rights of smokers and gay people. At times, the State Capitol has been a theater of the absurd or the profound. Sen. Don Hines of Bunkie steered feeding tube and cloning bills to an unfavorable committee, making him the most effective player of the Capitol this side of Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, who retained the powers of his office by wielding enormous clout with legislators.
Gov. Blanco has been scrambling for weeks to round up two-thirds support in the House and Senate for a $1 per pack increase in cigarette taxes. Counting to 70 in the lower chamber and to 26 in the upper chamber got much more challenging when $330 million in new oil and gas money was found at the Revenue Estimating Conference. While the governor strives for smokers to pay the freight for a teacher pay hike, new speculation has Blanco possibly tying the cigarette tax to health care. As the session enters the final turn, there could be some late surprises to complement a session of curious developments.
Senators approved a measure to prevent lobbyists from paying for tickets for legislators. The 35-0 tally was rebuffed by the House and Governmental Affairs Committee as members tabled the bill without casting a vote on the measure. The panel showed Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, where he could put his good government.
State Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, filed a resolution calling on all public libraries to remove books that feature same-sex parents or gay characters from the children's book sections. Crowe has zero tolerance for a book on his reading list called "King and King." Meanwhile, a measure cleared a House committee to grant job protection to homosexual and bisexual state workers. Rep. Peppi Bruneau, R-New Orleans, alerted the panel that the legislation might allow state employees to show up for work "in drag." Just one member of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee voted against the bill.
The Louisiana House voted 95-3 against a proposed amendment to a bill to allow slot machines at Louis Armstrong International Airport. In order to reap any benefits, the city of New Orleans would have been forced to repeal a residency requirement for police officers. Bruneau congratulated the author, Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, on the dubious distinction of getting three votes, saying it was the most futile effort to generate support in House history.
Bruneau, who has patrolled the halls of the House since 1976, coaxed his fellow House members to back a constitutional amendment to extend terms of state lawmakers and statewide officeholders for one year. The 30-year legislative veteran insists House Bill 80 is unrelated to term limit provisions, which will affect many of the 996 offices, including the seat occupied by Bruneau. Senators will determine whether the measure is opportunistic or an altruistic move to save the state money.
Only 14 senators backed a bill from Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete, to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and casinos. Marionneaux puffed on a cigar while urging the ban on smoking in public places. If the bill had passed, Louisiana would have joined 11 other states with similar prohibitions on puffing in public places. Gov. Blanco backed the bill and has become an anti-smoking advocate despite a record of $6,000 in contributions from the tobacco industry.
Senate Bill 146, sponsored by Sen. Diana Bajoie, D-New Orleans, was the governor's move to provide "healthy choices" in school vending machines. It was reduced to a 50-50 choice between healthy and unhealthy snacks by the Senate on a 34-3 vote. Sen. Tom Schedler, R-Mandeville, assessed the vote by saying, "The bill does nothing." That might not be a good harbinger for Blanco's health care agenda.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.