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.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
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.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"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.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
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.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.