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La. secures top ranking as business climate

Louisiana tops “Business Facilities” magazine’s rankings of U.S. business climates.
The magazine announced the rankings Friday. Louisiana also earned top marks in state workforce programs for LED FastStart.
“Prosperity begins with a quality job, and today there are more people working in Louisiana than ever before. When we took office in 2008, we sent a strong message to the world about our intention to make Louisiana the next frontier for business opportunity. Now, with the No. 1 business climate in the entire country, we know we are well on our way to accomplishing our ultimate goal of ensuring that every family in Louisiana has access to great career opportunities, just as we have worked tirelessly to ensure that every child in Louisiana can get a great education. This recognition from Business Facilities, one of the leading economic development publications for more than four decades, is proof of the remarkable turnaround that has occurred in Louisiana,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a prepared statement.

Jindal, Holden slated for dedication of Legislature-funded LSU building

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden are scheduled to attend the dedication of a new $14 million LSU AgCenter building that the Louisiana Legislature funded through direct allocation.

The ceremony marking the opening of the two-story, 49,000 square foot Animal and Food Sciences Laboratories Building will be held at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 6, according to an AgCenter news release.

Construction on the building began in 2012.

Scholarship established in John Maginnis’ name

maginnis

A scholarship has been set up at the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU in memory of political reporter John Maginnis.

Maginnis died earlier this year after suffering health problems. He was 66.
As a political writer, Maginnis wrote books, published a newsletter and authored a syndicated opinion column. He was widely seen as the dean of the Louisiana political media.
Maginnis’ business partner, Jeremy Alford, announced the scholarship along with directions on how to contribute. Checks should be made payable to LSU Foundation and mailed to LSU Foundation, 3838 West Lakeshore Drive, Baton Rouge, La. 70808. In the notation line, write “John J. Maginnis Scholarship.”
Maginnis’ widow, Jacqueline, told Alford that the scholarship is a fitting tribute.
“John’s roots ran deep at LSU, from editing The Daily Reveille to being inducted in the Manship Hall of Fame. It brings me great joy to see that his influence will continue through this scholarship and the students who will receive it in the coming years. In many ways, they are following in John’s own footsteps and I’m excited about introducing his work to future generations,” she told Alford.
To qualify, the scholarship recipient must be financially needy and write a 725-word essay about the state’s political system.

 

Candidate poll shows Dietzel leading GOP in 6th

Paul Dietzel II has poll numbers that shows he is the leading Republican candidate for the Baton Rouge-based 6th congressional district.

Former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, who is running as a Democrat, came in first, polling 35 percent of 576 respondents on Saturday whose answered the question: “If the election for the 6th Congressional District were held today, which candidates would you support?”

Dietzel came in second with 13 percent, according to the survey by JMC Analytics and Polling, of Baton Rouge, commissioned by Dietzel’s campaign.

“With qualifying approximately three weeks, the candidate field has stabilized, although the percentage of undecided voters remains relatively high,” the poll’s narrative stated. Candidates seeking to run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy need to sign up officially between Aug. 20 and Aug. 22. The open primary is scheduled for Nov. 4.

In addition to Edwards and Dietzel, the poll identified state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, as the third most viable candidate in the field with support of 9 percent in the poll.

Republican Garret Graves, a former aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal, is the fundraising leader in the race, by far, but showed up in Dietzel’s poll with 3 percent of the support.

The automated poll chose a sample of “minimally likely” voter in the 6th District. Seventy-eight percent of the poll respondents were white, 41 percent were Democrats, and 47 percent are from southeastern neighborhoods of East Baton Rouge Parish, many of which overlap with Claitor’s state senatorial district. The margin of error was 4.1 percent of poll.

Nearly 72 percent of the 755,607 people living in the 6th district are white and 43 percent of the district’s registered voters live in East Baton Rouge Parish, according to the data used by the Louisiana Legislature to redraw the district’s lines to consolidate voters who overwhelmingly support Republican candidates.

The poll suggests that no one candidate will win a majority of the votes in Novembers. Edwards likely will find himself in a Dec. 6 runoff with a Republican opponent, who “most likely” will be Dietzel, according to the candidate’s poll.

Cassidy wins committee OK of bill to grandfather group health plans despite Obamacare rules

People covered by group health-insurance policies could keep their coverage regardless of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, under a bill by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., that won committee approval Wednesday.

Cassidy’s Employee Health Care Protection Act says that group health plans already in effect will be considered as meeting the minimum coverage requirements set by the ACA, the signature health-care reform of President Barack Obama. Availability of the grandfathered plans would be subject to decisions by insurers to continue offering them.

“The president and supporters of Obamacare promised numerous times that ‘if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it, period,’ ” Cassidy said in support of the bill. “However, it was clear to anyone that read the bill that this promise was false and that there would be major disruption in people’s healthcare plans.”

The approval by the House Energy and Commerce Committee advances the bill for possible consideration by the full Republican-controlled House. From there, it would move to the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Vitter: Give me money to stop illegal immigrants

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is turning the immigration controversy into a fundraising push.

Vitter asked supporters Wednesday to make a financial contribution to his gubernatorial campaign if they stand with him on defending Louisiana against illegal immigration.

“I have a bill in Congress that will fix the border crisis now by creating mandatory detention of illegal immigrants who are trying to sneak into the U.S., and expediting deportation. And as Governor, I will use all of our state’s power to block them from coming to Louisiana in the future,” he wrote in an email.

Vitter is running for governor next year against Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite.

On Twitter, Vitter has been weighing in on the immigration debate.

Vitter backs EPA over Army in Camp Minden dispute

In a bit of an unexpected twist, conservative Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana is backing the federal Environmental Protection Agency in its dispute with the U.S. Army over explosives at a North Louisiana base.

And his Democratic seatmate, Mary Landrieu, is siding with him.

The issue concerns 15 million pounds of explosives and propellant abandoned at Camp Minden, a Louisiana National Guard base in Minden, Vitter said in a news release Tuesday. In 2012, state police discovered that a large amount of explosives were stored improperly at the base by a private defense contractor, he said.  Police investigated after an explosion in a storage bunker, according to a local newspaper account.

The EPA has told the Army to clean the stuff up. In a written reply Monday, the Army refused, Vitter said.

“The Army has been dragging its feet for far too long, and it’s creating a dangerous situation for folks in Louisiana,” Vitter said in the release. “It’s unacceptable for them to ignore this situation.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “The Army needs to take responsibility and clean up this mess.”

And until it does, Vitter said, he will use his power to block Senate confirmation of the nomination of Alissa M. Starzak to be general counsel of the Department of the Army.

Landrieu didn’t go quite that far. But she put out her own release saying she has called on the Department of Justice to settle the dispute and hold the Army accountable for a cleanup.

“The residents of North Louisiana are living with a ticking time bomb in their backyard, and they deserve to be able to sleep at night without worrying that it will blow up,” Landrieu said in her release.

 

 

 

 

had not been properly stored by a defense contractor, Explo Systems, in 2012.

 

 

AP reports schism on Export-Import Bank

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is making a campaign issue out of a congressional fight over a little-known banking agency targeted for elimination by conservative Republicans, according to The Associated Press.

The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies. Landrieu said it promotes trade, creates jobs and helps small businesses.

Her re-election campaign has been hammering her Republican opponent in the Nov. 4 election, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, to state a position on whether to renew the bank’s charter, which expires in September.

“Congress must reauthorize the Bank as soon as possible so that it can continue to help Louisiana businesses continue to export goods and services to world markets and import jobs,” Landrieu said.

Cassidy is hedging on the issue, raising questions about the worth of the Export-Import Bank without saying outright that he opposes its charter renewal. He said the bank costs taxpayers $200 million a year and largely benefits big, already profitable corporations.

“The Inspector General said that the bank has not been careful in making sure that the jobs it helps to generate are created in the United States and not overseas. All of this calls into question whether the Export-Import Bank is worth the cost to taxpayers. Very serious reforms are required before considering re-authorization,” Cassidy said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The bank provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to foreign customers that buy U.S. goods. Dispute over its reauthorization puts Cassidy in a tough spot, choosing sides between business-backed establishment Republicans who support the bank and tea party groups who call it a form of corporate welfare.

The long-shot Republican candidate in Louisiana’s Senate race, tea party favorite Rob Maness, opposes the bank’s renewal, describing it as a drain on the economy that is at odds with “free market solutions.”

Landrieu held a conference call with leaders of Louisiana-based companies that use the bank and say failure to reauthorize it would damage their workforce and cut their income. She’s released lists of businesses in the state that rely on the bank.

Her campaign, meanwhile, notes that Cassidy once supported the bank, voting for its reauthorization in 2012 without raising any concerns and holding a small business export conference in 2011 with representatives of the bank.

“Congressman Cassidy had no issue supporting the Export-Import Bank, but now that he’s running for higher office, he has decided the interests of Washington politicians are more important than those of Louisiana’s working families,” Fabien Levy, spokesman for the Landrieu campaign, said in a statement.

Cassidy suggested the Export-Import Bank assistance was skewed.

He said small businesses received less than 3 percent of the financing from the banking agency, while the rest of the money went to 10 large, profitable corporations, including one that paid no federal taxes in a recent year.

Graves to EWE: My kids are cuter than your wife

It started with a comment about whose kids are cuter.
Then 6th Congressional District candidate Garret Graves upped the ante and took a swipe at opponent Edwin Edwards’ wife.
The forum wasn’t a town hall meeting or a candidate debate, but Twitter.
Graves, a former coastal adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Edwards, a four-time governor, are running against each other for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is trying to oust U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Graves has an ad out that features his three children. Edwards has four grown children and a baby son with his wife, Trina. Eli Edwards turns 1 Friday.
Nola.com reporter Julia O’Donoghue unwittingly ignited a twitter war when she tweeted: “One thing is for sure. Our #LA06 candidates have really cute kids. http://bit.ly/1lF4Afo @garretgraves @EdwinWEdwards” late last week.
Graves quickly tweeted back that his kids are cuter than Trina. He ended his tweet with the hashtag #tilDecember – either a reference to the congressional race’s election date or to the Edwardses’ May-December union. Graves later clarified he was referring to the possible December runoff.
Here’s what followed:

 

Jindal adds another event to New Hampshire trip

Gov. Bobby Jindal has added another event to his September New Hampshire trip.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (AP photo)

Gov. Bobby Jindal (AP photo)

Jindal, considered a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, will speak at the Hillsborough County Republican committee’s gala, according to a report from WMUR.com.

WMUR says that the event  ” will be one of the biggest Republican events all year.”

News broke earlier this month that Jindal was slated to participate in the Seacoast Republican Women’s chilifest on Sept. 6. The gala is that evening.

Jindal also visited New Hampshire, a major player in presidential primaries due to timing and media coverage, in March.