Clinging to hope and waiting for recovery, he kept track of the state Legislature and their special sessions from an RV in New Orleans and a rented apartment in Baton Rouge. Gerica says there wasn't much accomplished during those gatherings that lifted his spirits.
As the regular session prepares to convene on March 27, Gerica is again looking to the state for answers. But all he can find are pre-filed bills dealing with an official state poem, promises of more money for teachers and professors, and unexpected budget priorities.
"I don't see nothing that is coming up that is going to help us," Gerica says. "All I see is a lot of money being wasted."
Gerica isn't a government expert; he just keeps track of bills that might impact his fishing business. But even those who are inside the political machine don't see a whole lot of effort being devoted to hurricane recovery this go around. Butch Speer, clerk of the House of Representatives, says while the number of bills being filed is on par with previous regular sessions, only a small percentage of the measures to be debated will deal directly with hurricane recovery.
"We'll be arguing about the same kind of stuff we normally do in a regular session," he says.
What Speer means by "stuff" is virtually anything. For instance, Rep. Mert Smiley, a Republican car dealer from Port Vincent, wants the state to have an official poem and has filed House Bill 177 to anoint "I Love My Louisiana" by James Ellis Richardson with that designation. The House Judiciary Committee is actually expected to spend time on the matter.
Rep. Bryant O. Hammett, a Ferriday Democrat and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wants lawmakers to debate his House Bill 52, which prohibits computer-assisted hunting. This is the latest fad for hunters, found on Web sites like www.Live-Shot.com, where hogs and other critters can be gunned down through the Internet using webcams and mechanical rifles.
There are also a few bills making a return to the Legislature that always take up lively hours of debate, like bans on flag burning and human cloning. The regular session is scheduled to last 85 calendar days.
This year's $20.7 billion budget as proposed by the governor has the potential to eclipse all else. The monumental spending plan is $1.6 billion larger than the budget approved last year. It might seem irresponsible to increase spending in the shadow of an unprecedented natural disaster, but the administration argues the extra load is due to the large sums of federal relief cash flowing into the state.
The devil is in the details. Lawmakers are already rallying behind the idea of resurrecting the urban and rural development funds through the budget. Before being abolished, they were widely referred to as slush funds because governors have historically doled them out to select lawmakers for pet projects back home. Rep. Francis Thompson, a Democrat from Delhi, has vowed to personally carry out the mission.
"I'm not surprised by any of this," says Barry Erwin, president of Council for a Better Louisiana, a nonprofit group that monitors state government. "Those pots of money have been there for years, and when you have a budget that looks fat and happy on the surface, it's inevitable that we go back to that discussion."
That misconception will likewise confuse other budgetary issues, he adds. The governor has a $135 million proposal on the table to boost pay for teachers and college faculty, and there are major shortfalls in the public hospital system's needs.
For state officials, it will be a challenging balancing act. But for people like Gerica, it's a return to politics as usual while hurricane recovery takes a backseat.
"That's all this is," Gerica says. "But I'm still hoping there will be a couple of champions up there for us that will keep things moving along."
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.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Urgent Care clinics unprepared for Ebola; Nazis collected Social Security; Hawaii dodges a bullet and more national and international news for Monday, October 20, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
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Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
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Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
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Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.
Aligned with the party of an unpopular president, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu sought to keep her distance from the Obama administration, against claims from her chief Republican challenger Bill Cassidy that a vote to re-elect the Democratic incumbent was a vote for Barack Obama.
Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.
Despite the hype and potential misinformation to have spread in the wake of Mark Cockerham’s recent departure from the LPSB, his candidacy for reelection is still on — now with the backing of the Chamber's Empower PAC.