Which potential future candidate for governor will get to take credit for upping Louisiana's share of offshore royalties? Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco is threatening to oppose an Aug. 16 federal royalty sale out of protest, which isn't exactly breaking news, but she recently brought on board a lawyer with expertise in the area and is circling the wagons for a possible legal challenge.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal convinced the House Resources Committee to pass his bill last week to increase Louisiana's share of energy royalties produced offshore up to 75 percent. It's estimated that the state loses 24 square miles of coastal land annually from the encroaching Gulf of Mexico, and the price tag exceeds $14 billion for a 30-year fix. One solution is getting more offshore royalty money from the feds ' no easy undertaking.
States such as New Mexico receive upwards to 50 percent of the oil and gas revenues they send to the federal government. But Louisiana continues to lose out on millions due to its three-mile offshore boundary. Although the state contributes more than $5 billion to the federal treasury each year from offshore drilling, it only gets back about $39 million a year. ' Jeremy Alford
BLANCO: NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP
Speaking of the upcoming governor's race, Blanco just received her most recent poll numbers from SurveyUSA, which is funded by a consortium of media organizations. She didn't get a noticeable boost from the regular session. Based on 600 interviews taken June 15, the governor earned a 39 percent approval rating, which is up from the 34 percent rating she received in a similar poll back in November. Still, the numbers are a far cry from the lofty 55 percent mandate she was booking in May of last year. ' JA
THE PERKS OF BEING INVESTIGATED?
Dr. Pearson Cross, an assistant professor of political science at UL Lafayette, has an interesting take on the ongoing bribery investigation of Rep. William Jefferson. Even though New Orleans Democrat Jefferson was ousted from his seat on the influential Ways and Means Committee and is under fire from the feds, Cross told the Cybercast News Service that the longtime Louisiana politician's reputation might not be totally destroyed.
"Oftentimes, being an embattled Louisiana politician can actually be a benefit," Cross says. "If anything, I think voters in the state's 2nd District are going to see him as put upon, that he was unfairly stripped, and I'm certain he's going to spin it that way." Cross continues, "Getting accused of corruption or bribery or incompetence or just about anything else in Louisiana has never been a bar to holding office ' or returning to officeâ?¦ We've had lots of incidents where people have been convicted, and if they're not forced to leave office by the nature of their crime, then they're just re-elected." ' JA
The federal public defender system certainly has its troubles ' mainly related to funding ' but it's hard to imagine any semblance of justice without the dedication and passion of its attorneys. Rebecca L. Hudsmith, a public defender in the Middle and Western districts of the state, has devoted her career to representing indigent clients and was recently honored for her dedication and legal acumen with the 2005 Benjamin E. Smith Award from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Louisiana. "Rebecca has been in the trenches all of her legal career, fighting to make the justice system fair to the disadvantaged and dispossessed," says former Angola State Penitentiary death row inmate Wilbert Rideau, a journalist who earned his freedom in 2005 after more than four decades years behind bars. "I knew Benjamin Smith, having met him over 40 years ago, and I'm sure he'd be proud of her work and the good she's done." ' Leslie Turk
BROWN PELICANS FLY THE COOP
Louisiana's state bird is leaving the state in increasing numbers over the last two years, according to surveys conducted by Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' biologists. "Environmental effects caused by an oil spill, hurricane activity and high tides associated with tropical storm activity are taking their toll on brown pelican populations," says biologist Tom Hess, who has overseen two brown pelican nesting surveys this year. Compared to similar studies in 2005, there has been a decline of nearly 10,000 nests. ' JA
TOP COASTAL LOBBYIST TAKING A BOW
Mark Davis, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, is stepping down from the high-profile gig after more than 15 years at the helm. The CRCL has played a pivotal role in crafting state policy over the past decade, with Davis as its front man. He helped bring former Gov. Mike Foster into the fold and offered oversight during the formation of the America's Wetland campaign. Most recently, he was instrumental in hammering out differences to help form the state's first coastal land trust. Mark Ford, CRCL's deputy director, couldn't comment on Davis' future plans. "He just felt like he was ready for a change," Ford says. The nationwide job hunt has been under way for three weeks now, and candidates from several different states are vying for the post. ' JA
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.