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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DEC 13 This Picayune editorial addresses the decision this week by a jury to acquit a former police officer of wrongfully shooting a man after Hurricane Katrina. The jury didn't hear allegations that cops drove his body to a levee and set it on fire. The storm brought out the worst in some, including the police department, and the city is steal healing from that pain, the editorial says.
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