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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OCT 20 The Globe and Mail, a Canadian paper, has posted its story on Louisiana's coastal loss here. In it, author Omar El Akkad clarifies it neatly: it's "a battle between prosperity and the planet's well-being." Are jobs and money worth the trade we're making? As Jonathan Foret says in the story, Mother Nature may come and answer that question for us.
OCT 20 Remember those great posts from blogger Jason Brad Berry that featured emails and letters related to the BP claims process? Well, apparently Patrick Juneau (who was featured, but not in a positive way, in those documents) ordered a background check on Berry because of it, this story in Louisiana Record says. Huh?
OCT 20 The Washington Post and ABC ran a poll on several issues here, but of course the presidential fields are most interesting. Hillary Clinton has commanding numbers on the D side, and Mitt Romney is leading the R side, with 21 percent. He's followed by Jeb Bush, with 11 percent, and 12 other guys polling in single digits. Bobby Jindal brings up the rear with 2 percent, with only John Kasich and Scott Walker polling worse.
OCT 20 Blogger Tom Aswell quotes two former Commissioners of Administration in this post, both of whom are not impressed with the magical surplus that current COA Kristy Nichols and her boss, Bobby Jindal, have found. There's some pretty interesting detail here about the origin of these magic beans.
OCT 20 Blogger Robert Mann paints a pretty amusing (or alarming, depending on your point of view) picture of how DOA Kristy Nichols and Gov. Bobby Jindal came up with the "balanced" budget they revealed last week. An unbalanced budget would blow a hole in Jindal's "already dim presidential hopes," Mann says.
OCT 18 Columnist James Gill tells a sordid tale of a Port Allen judge facing sanctions -- shortly after he was re-elected without opposition. District Judge J. Robin Free accepted a free ride on the private jet of an attorney who had just one a big case in his court, and also failed to recuse himself from a class-action case in which his mom was a potential plaintiff, Gill says.
OCT 20 The blogger known as Crazy Crawfish is writing about Superintendent John White in this post, taking issue with White's claim that it is only pockets of isolated "troublemakers" who are opposed to Common Core in Louisiana. Gosh, Johnny, that's the best you can come up with? That's not even original.
OCT 17 Here's a weird one on WVUE from investigative reporter Lee Zurik. In it, he's quoting a guy who was in a car accident and filed suit against the other guy who (he says) caused it and is responsible for a lot of medical bills. What's weird is what he was told by his lawyer (whom he recorded -- Huh?)
OCT 17 Here's another document from the BP claims library that was delivered anonymously to blogger Jason Brad Berry. It is written on what appears to be BP stationery and is directed to Patrick Juneau. In it, the BP guy complains about a $14 million bill for an audit BP has never seen, as well as a conflict between Juneau's "public boasts of transparency" and the manner in which he has really operated.
OCT 17 Bobby Jindal's poll numbers still stink in Iowa, this post on the Bloomberg Politics blog says. A recent poll found him tied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 1 percent, trailing Cruz, Perry, Christie, Rubio, Bush, Walker and a partridge in a pear tree.
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