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.
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.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Ten departing CEOs rake in $430 million; profile of FSU gunman emerges; Buffalo's weather woes and more national and international news for Friday, November 21, 2014.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.