"We've maintained throughout our existence that Blueprint is about helping to create the state we deserve. We believe we're well-positioned for progress on these key priorities for the state, but acknowledge the hard work associated with passing legislation," noted Blueprint Louisiana co-founder and Chairman Matt Stuller of Lafayette. Blueprint's five-part agenda includes the issues of state ethics, public education, workforce development, health care and transportation. The organization says it has now convened six working groups, one for each agenda item as well as a sixth dedicated to coastal restoration and hurricane protection, to develop legislation to implement its agenda. Blueprint also says it is working with legislators as well as the administration of Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, who did not sign Blueprint's contract, in advance of next year's legislative session. "Our interaction with legislators during the past few weeks has been very productive," Stuller says. "So many of them are eager, and they recognize the opportunities ahead of them to build a legacy of significant improvement in Louisiana." ... DAVIS, HEBERT TESTIFY TO ACADIANA'S RESPONSE TO HURRICANES On Monday, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu held a hearing on major disasters and catastrophes at the Old State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge. (Landrieu is chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery.) At the hearing, titled "Host Communities: Analyzing the Role and Needs of Communities that Take in Disaster Evacuees in the Wake of Major Disasters and Catastrophes," local witnesses testified about how their communities accommodated evacuees following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The witness list included Cajundome Commissioner Greg Davis, Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. ... FORMER LUS ADVERSARY NOW JINDAL'S LEGISLATIVE LIAISON The latest member of Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal's administration is a familiar face to city officials involved with Lafayette Utilities System's fiber-to-the-home project. Tommy Williams, tapped last week as Jindal's legislative liaison, worked as a BellSouth lobbyist for 38 years and was at the forefront of heated negotiations related to the company's opposition to LUS' telecommunications venture. Williams, 65, retired from BellSouth last year as vice president for regulatory and external affairs. As Jindal's legislative liaison, Williams will be the governor's point person for advancing bills through the state Legislature.
While working for BellSouth, Williams was a primary player in negotiating the 2004 Local Government Fair Competition Act, which placed a series of restrictions on LUS entering the telecommunications business and required a public referendum on the issue. While both sides agreed to the legislation, city officials later cried foul when BellSouth used the act to file a lawsuit against LUS' bond ordinance for the project. BellSouth eventually withdrew from the suit, which was also brought by Lafayette resident Elizabeth Naquin. LUS prevailed in the case and now plans to begin offering telecom services in early 2009.
"[Tommy Williams] was always their primary contact whenever we dealt with BellSouth," says LUS Director Terry Huval. "But Tommy Williams doesn't work for BellSouth anymore, and BellSouth is no longer BellSouth; it's AT&T, so there's different management of that organization as well."
Huval says those past disputes aren't personal. "Tommy was always a fine person whenever we dealt with him," he says. "I think some of the issues that came up where BellSouth as a corporation acted in bad faith wasn't necessarily at his direction. It was folks beyond that point that I think were involved in it." Huval also praised Williams as a deft negotiator. "Tommy is very effective in dealing with legislative matters," he says, "and I don't blame the governor for choosing someone who has as good a reputation as he has had in dealing with legislative matters."
Contributors: Nathan Stubbs and Mary Tutwiler
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, March 12, 2014:
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.