But around and inside the tallest building in downtown Baton Rouge, things are already getting back to normal. Lawmakers are finding their voices again, media is paying close attention, and by all indications, Jindal's honeymoon among the insiders has ended.
Maybe it's because Jindal beat all his opponents handily in the primary, giving his administration a one-month jump on most governors who have to slug it out against a tough opponent in a runoff. More likely, Jindal set the bar so high with his promises of revolutionary reform that onlookers are hungry for immediate action. Political insiders ' and the public Â' will only hand out so many passes and look the other way for so long.
Pockets of opposition have been sprouting up in increasing numbers over the past two months. During legislative sessions, teacher groups will take stands as the governor-elect pushes his plans to expanded charter schools and merit pay for educators; the teachers' union endorsed his opposition last year. Some lawmakers feel squeezed as well.
Rep. Damon Baldone, a Houma Democrat, was recently edged out of the race for speaker pro tem, the second-highest spot in the chamber, but was provided with the vice-chairmanship of the House Committee on Criminal Justice. Not long after, Speaker-designee Jim Tucker, an Algiers Republican, contacted members of the House vowing to support Rep. Karen Carter of New Orleans, a Democrat like Baldone, for the pro tem job. Jindal told lawmakers repeatedly last year that his leadership team would not interfere with the House elections as other governors have done. "It's obvious that the politics around here haven't changed," Baldone says. "That's why I'm just going to withdraw my name, even though this is supposed to be an elected position where legislators should be free to make their own choice."
Rep. Don Cazayoux, a Democrat from New Roads who was edged out of the race for speaker by Jindal and Tucker in similar fashion, was likewise left wondering what had happened to Jindal's vow to stay out of legislative leadership races and committee assignments. "We owed it the state to make every effort to try to elect a speaker independently, and we strongly believe independence is important to developing a more effective and responsive Legislature," Cazayoux says. "I wish the governor-elect had allowed the process to continue because many members were still undecided, and the momentum was turning in our favor."
Media reaction was swift. C.B. Forgotson, a Hammond attorney and one of the first political bloggers in Louisiana, pointed out that Louisiana law actually calls for an election in the House, not a statement to the media about who should be crowned. "Either the speaker made a mistake or accidentally revealed the truth," Forgotson says. "In either case, why have rules, if, like our laws, they are not obeyed by those who make them? Aristotle said, 'Good laws, if they are not obeyed, do not constitute good government.'"
Longtime political reporter and former editor Jim Beam recently wrote in his Lake Charles American Press column that "legislative independence may be just a pipe dream" and maybe Jindal needs to be prodded in the right direction. "Those of us who thought Jindal's election meant a new day was dawning in Baton Rouge are terribly disappointed at this latest turn of events," Beam wrote.
Then there's ethics reform.
Jindal told voters his administration would be squeaky clean, which means even the slightest detour on that road will grab headlines. So all hell broke loose last month when Jindal named Jimmy Faircloth as his executive counsel. Questions immediately cropped up about Faircloth's firm, which represents the Coushatta tribe's casino, and his plans to continue his private practice. Faircloth later retracted that statement, promising to work for Jindal only.
The Baton Rouge Advocate weighed in with an editorial: "However well Faircloth conducts himself, his desire to return to the firm after his service in the governor's office will raise questions whenever any decision is made by Jindal involving gambling." Even though Jindal has designated a special lawyer to handle the issues and Faircloth has severed his private ties, those questions ' and other queries about Jindal's hand-picked allies and the looming special session for ethics reform ' will continue.
At a recent fundraiser held not far from the banks of Capitol Lake, Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, spent more time eyeing the water body than the influencers at the party.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, April 21, 2014:
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
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.
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.