Skinner won't run for DA, Acadiana legislators say "enough" to surplus spending and more
SKINNER NOT RUNNING FOR DA Disappointingly, it’s over before it officially began. Former U.S. Attorney Mike Skinner, who had been planning to mount a challenge to 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson this fall, says he will not seek the office. “Basically it came down to a decision of not being able to do two things well at the same time,” Skinner says. “The harder I have tried to get the campaign off the ground, the busier I have gotten in my practice. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t have the time to adequately devote to each of them.”
Skinner has a thriving solo law practice that primarily focuses on business and commercial litigation and transactions, as well as white collar criminal defense and governmental relations work. The financial strain of giving up his practice was another factor, as Skinner’s two children are in college, with son Winston heading to Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville this fall.
Skinner’s campaign unofficially got under way early last year when he passed out lapel stickers at the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce’s Building Community Conference at Toledo Bend. He served as U.S. attorney for the Western District from 1993 to 2000 and chaired the Louisiana Democratic Party from 2003 to early 2005.
“Mike would have been a fine candidate for any position,” says attorney Gary McGoffin, a friend and supporter. “We need more good citizens running, but I can understand the personal and professional decisions he made.”
The 15th Judicial District includes Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.
ACADIANA LEGISLATORS SAY "ENOUGH" TO SURPLUS SPENDING A bipartisan coalition of Acadiana legislators wants to put the brakes on state surplus spending. Six state House members, led by Rep. Joel Robideaux of Lafayette and Fred Mills of St. Martinville, have filed legislation requiring any additional state surplus dollars that may come in this year be returned to taxpayers in the form of rebates. The proposed bill establishes an “enough is enough” fund to collect any additional revenues identified at the state’s May Revenue Estimating Conference and calls on the Legislature to formulate a plan for rebates. In addition to Robideaux and Mills, the other legislators backing the bill are Taylor Barras (New Iberia), Simone Champagne (Jeanerette), Page Cortez (Lafayette) and Jonathan Perry (Kaplan).
The group notes that the state has already spent a surplus of more than $1 billion for fiscal year 2006-2007, and nearly another $1 billion for fiscal year 2007-2008. “The people of Louisiana are struggling financially,” says Mills. “With the high price of gasoline and groceries, it’s ridiculous that the state is spending every extra billion it gets. Enough is enough. The state spending spree must stop. It’s the people’s money, let’s give it back to the people.”
ROBIDEAUX WADES INTO IMMIGRANT DEBATE Illegal immigrants are one of many lawmaker targets during the ongoing legislative session. GOP Rep. Tim Burns of Mandeville has legislation that would ban unauthorized aliens from renting property. Fellow Republican Rep. Brett Geymann of Lake Charles has another bill that would prohibit state agencies from contracting with businesses that employ illegals. Additionally, there are other measures that increase penalties for contractors violating hiring laws, create new tracking systems and force courts to pay for interpreters for non-English speaking persons involved in criminal trials.
One of the more heated debates may come from Lafayette Rep. Joel Robideaux, who has no party affiliation. His House Bill 1233 would allow those with a J1 visa, provided to foreign citizens participating in an internship/exchange program, to take part in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana. The J1 visa is intended for students needing practical training that is not available in their home country.
Despite constitutional concerns (opponents believe the feds should be handling many of these issues), Louisiana isn’t the only state taking a swing at sovereignty right now. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 1,100 immigration-related bills were introduced in 44 state legislatures during the first quarter of this year. A NCSL report found that the top three issues were law enforcement, employment and driver’s licenses or other identification.
HOUSE APPROVES HAND-HELD CELL PHONE BAN Legislation banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving passed the Louisiana House of Representatives last week. With 55 members voting for the ban and 43 against, the lower chamber approved House Bill 852, which requires the use of hands-free devices, such as wireless Bluetooth. It was a narrow win, as a bill needs at least 53 votes for House approval. Violators face fines of up to $250, depending on how many times they are pulled over. The measure now heads to the Senate.
HB852 allows for the use of handheld cell phones to call 911 in an emergency, in addition to a physician, fire department, ambulance or law enforcement authority. The ban also applies to text messaging, which critics say is 50 percent more dangerous while driving than talking on handheld cell phones.
Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, said he sponsored HB852 because state Highway Safety Commission statistics in 2007 showed that cell phone usage played a role in 2,285 accidents in Louisiana, causing 1,247 injuries and 10 deaths, including a 16-year-old.
Contributors: Leslie Turk, Nathan Stubbs and Jeremy Alford
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.