The U.S. Congress received mixed reactions from Louisiana agricultural groups last week after it narrowly passed the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The House ratified CAFTA, which immediately goes into effect, by a two-vote margin in a late session last Wednesday night.
In Louisiana, U.S. Reps. William Jefferson, Rodney Alexander, Jim McCrery and Richard Baker voted for the trade agreement, while Reps. Charles Boustany, Charlie Melancon and Bobby Jindal remained steadfast opponents of CAFTA.
The trade deal between the United States, five Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic has been a contentious issue in Louisiana ("Sticky Situation," Feb. 16), with some of the state's principal farm groups trying to reconcile their opposing positions. The Louisiana Farm Bureau and the Thibodaux-based American Sugar Cane League were both adamant opponents of the plan due to provisions that allow for a gradual increase in cheap, imported Central American sugar. The state's rice mills, however, strongly supported CAFTA because it provides lower, more stable tariffs on their exports to the six countries.
Sugar industry representatives have said that while the added sugar imports expected under CAFTA may not immediately put domestic sugar farmers out of business, if the trade policies set forth in NAFTA and now CAFTA continue to spread, it could ultimately jeopardize an industry that dates back 225 years in Louisiana.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Charlie Melancon, former president of the American Sugar Cane League,Â was granted one minute to speak during the House floor debate. Melancon ended his brief speech by saying, "I do not see any benefits for workers, for sugar people. We have given away textiles. We have given away steel. We have given away fruits and vegetables. Now let us just go ahead and give away everything and be dependent on every other country for our food and our defense."
Architect Gene Sellers gave a dire forecast last week to the building committee for the new south Lafayette public library branch. Because construction costs shot up 25 percent in the past three years since the library was first planned, Sellers said the building, if bid out today, would be at least $330,000 over its $6.5 million budget. The projections are forcing the committee to consider some significant changes to the new branch.
Lafayette Public Library Director Sona Dombourian says one feature the committee is likely to consider cutting or scaling down is a planned 100-seat auditorium wired for laptop computer use, estimated to cost more than $350,000. Dombourian says they are also looking at getting private donations from individuals or businesses that may want to sponsor the auditorium. The new library branch, to be located on a six-acre site at the corner of Johnston Street and Duhon Road Extension, is still on schedule to be bid for construction in early 2006.
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Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
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Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
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The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
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February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
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Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
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“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.
The endorsements keep coming for District 9 LPSB candidate Jeremy Hidalgo, who picked up his fifth vow of support Thursday, this time from the Chamber’s political action committee.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be out knocking on doors this weekend with anti-abortion activists encouraging people to vote against his colleague, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sued Abbeville's mayor and police chief over a policy barring police from any social media use showing the city in a bad light.
Prospective Republican presidential candidates are expected to promote "religious liberty" at home and abroad at a gathering of religious conservatives Friday, with anti-Obama speeches from the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.