Lafayette Republican state Reps. Nancy Landry and Joel Robideaux, winner of this year's "Gentleman Award" from his fellow legislators
There are a lot of hurt feelings and maybe even a touch of regret this morning among the Legislature’s 144 members, part of their shared post-session hangover. Sure, they passed a balanced budget with hours to spare before adjournment Thursday, but it took an untraditional and highly controversial union of conservative fiscal hawks and the Black and Democratic caucuses to get there.
Some mainline Republicans remain furious that the hawks teamed up with Democrats and, as they label it, turned against their own. There’s also a sprinkling of Democrats who were put off by the Black Caucus’ approach to the budget compromise, which included independently pushing its own priorities, like funding for Southern and Grambling universities.
There are those who say the turmoil and rancor represent the true face of compromise. And those folks are only partly correct. The face of compromise this year was worn best by Ways and Means Chairman Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette. He kicked off the session by booting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tax swap plan. He was the author of the lead legislation and refused to move it out of his committee.
Unpopular with business and everyone else who’s not part of rightwing think-tanks, the plan was feared by lawmakers, who were in turn grateful to Robideaux. As the session came to a close, the body presented him with the annual “Gentleman Award,” which may have had as much to do with Robideaux’s role in bringing all of the factions together for the budget compromise as it did with stopping Jindal’s tax plan.
Term limited, Robideaux is leaving the Legislature as his influence peaks, begging important questions. What’s next for Robideaux and how will he factor into next year’s session? I’ll be writing more about that in the next IND Monthy and ABiz.
Look for the following in ABiz, which publishes June 17:
— Local tax revenues connected to tourism and hotels became a hot issue this session. In one part of the parish, a new levy could be going on the books. In Lafayette proper, the Cajundome and Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission got dragged into a fight that pit north Lafayette boosters against practically everyone else. And it did not end well, nor was it resolved in a meaningful way.
— Commercial and recreational seafood interests had something to lose and gain this session. In trying to revamp a marketing board with a multi-million dollar budget, one freshman from the Lafayette Parish delegation took on coastal lawmakers and lost. But some big local names appointed to the board by Gov. Bobby Jindal helped level the blow. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry fits in on another front, teaming with conservationists to help protect important underwater habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.
— While a local senator explained the value of witch doctors and switched parties, drawing surprise from no one, the Legislature switched focus on education by promising one campus in the region new dollars for construction and promising another nothing.
— Finally, it was the Year of the Acadian Bill. There were probably more Cajun- and French-themed bills in this single session than we've seen in a very long time. And many of them were introduced for one reason only.
Check back and I'll fill in the gaps. Plus, I'll bring you a few more tales from "The Session That Everyone Was Happy To See End."
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APR 18 So Gov. Jindal's new press secretary already has blocked blogger CB Forgotston from her Twitter account, CB tells us in this post. Sure, CB hasn't exactly been sugar sweet to the lady, but if his blogs are all it takes for her to get in a huff she better find some intestinal fortitude somewhere, because that's just the tip of the iceberg.
APR 18 Pooyie! Robert Kennedy Jr. isn't pulling any punches in this column on Huffington Post about the flood board's lawsuit against Big Oil and Bobby Jindal's involvement in efforts to kill it. Kennedy, who is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, describes Jindal as 'genuflecting to Big Oil's pressure' and 'the industry's chief indentured servant.' Dang!
APR 18 Here's a video of UL Coach Mark Hudspeth showing he can pump some serious iron. It sure impressed the Dr. Saturday blog, which calls his press of 370 pounds a "ridiculous" number for a coach -- and opines that no other college coach could beat ours.
APR 18 Columnist John Maginnis offers some advice to Vance McAllister on this post: Don't quit. Republicans have demanded he resign, but offer no "sensible answer" to the question of why David Vitter shouldn't leave, too, he says. McAllister needs to do his duty and serve out his (abbreviated) term, Maginnis says.
APR 18 Blogger Lamar White Jr. comments upon the plan to make a Bible Louisiana's "official book" in this post. He argues his point by telling us the story of an immigrant couple who moved to Louisiana: Amar and Raj, whose oldest child is now our Governor. This action would have a much larger impact, he opines.
APR 18 There's only one major bill left defending public education, blogger Mike Deshotels writes in this post. He's also got a few choice words for state Superintendent John White, who implies that Louisiana teachers would be thrown into chaos and disarray if they didn't have a test to teach. (Maybe kids would actually get an education then? Nah!)
APR 18 An effort to set up speed cameras on the Interstate has been shut down before it even got started, columnist Stephanie Grace tells us in this post. A bill to block the practice is sailing through the legislature -- where apparently no one wants visitors to our fair state to arrive home to a ticket. (These guys must never drive on I-10 with people from Texas).
APR 18 Blogger Tom Aswell reassures everyone worried about the staffers for Rodney Alexander -- the ones who didn't go to work for McAllister or Candid Camera, anyway -- with this post. Apparently one staffer for the retired Congressman (who also worked for a preacher accused of sexual assault) already has been hired by Alexander in the state department he now runs, Aswell says.
APR 17 At the start of the Tuesday board meeting that ended with his removal from the President's post, Joe Aguillard told the governing board of Louisiana College that SACS, the accreditation agency, requires the board to adopt a confidentiality agreement regarding board actions. Later that day, SACS told the Town Talk that confidentiality agreements would never be required. Calvinist or not, isn't lying wrong?
APR 17 Here we are, looking like backwater dummies again in the national media. This story on Huffington Post tells the nation that our legislators are so scared of the Louisiana Family Forum that they won't vote to repeal a law that was ruled illegal years ago. (Guess these particular Christians don't cotton to that "love one another" thing.)
APR 17 Here's an interesting column from Paul Stanley, political opinion editor of the Christian Post. He breaks down the differences between David Vitter and Vance McAllister, in terms of political realities. What he found surprising was the fact that many GOP leaders are swinging a self-righteous sword at McAllister which had remained sheathed when Vitter's "sin" was revealed. He does have an interesting theory -- that Jindal's people want the Vitter issue to be revived.
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