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Jindal to speak at Liberty University

Gov. Bobby Jindal was named Thursday as the keynote speaker at Liberty University’s 2014 Commencement ceremony.

It’s highly sought-after gig for presidential candidates seeking the support of the conservative Christian community.

“Many believe he could hold the highest office in the land someday,” said Liberty University President Jerry Falwell in prepared statement. “I believe he will be an inspiration to our graduates, not only because of his life’s story, but because he shares many of the conservative and Christian values that Liberty University graduates hold dear.”

Liberty was founded in 1971 by Falwell’s late father, the televangelist and political commentator of the same name. The Lynchburg, Va. college calls itself the largest private Christian university in the world. It has 350 programs and claims more than 100,000 residential and online students.

Notable alumni include Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana legislator who now is in charge of the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates conservative Christian values in government policy and opposes of gay rights.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Falwell said he was hesitant to give his personal opinion of Jindal since they have never met. Instead, he deferred to Liberty’s law school dean, Mat Staver.

“He’s a committed Christian,” Falwell said. “Mat Staver said he heard him speak and he sounded like a Baptist preacher.”

Jindal’s May 10 speech will begin at 10 a.m. in Williams Stadium on the 7,000-acre campus near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It’s back to work for McAllister

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, reportedly plans to return to Capitol Hill after Easter.

McAllister has been in seclusion since he was captured on videotape passionately kissing an aide. McAllister is married. The aide – who left the payroll after the video went viral – is the wife of a childhood friend.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and others have called upon McAllister to resign. At the same time, Democrats are accusing Jindal and his fellow Republicans of hypocrisy for not asking U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to quit seven years when his phone number appeared on a madam’s call list.

McAllister’s chief of staff, Adam Terry, told The Ouachita Citizen that the congressman will be back at work once Congress returns from Easter Break.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports that McAllister’s political office manager in Monroe resigned Wednesday. There was speculation that Leah Gordon leaked the security tape to the press. Gordon denied she had a copy of the tape.


St. George election deadline narrows

Legislators agreed Wednesday to narrow the window of time for St. George organizers to hold an election on creating a new city from the unincorporated southern sections of East Baton Rouge Parish.

State Sen. Ben Nevers proposed Senate Bill 674 to suspend the incorporation of new municipalities until the issue can be studied. “What I’m trying to do is what’s best for our state,” he said.

The original legislation would have been a blow to St. George organizers, who are trying to carve out a new city.

Nevers, D-Bogalusa, told the Senate Committee on Local and Municipal Affairs Wednesday that he wanted to give the organizers until Jan. 1 to hold their election.

State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, interjected that it would be cheaper to poll voters in November, when U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is up for reelection and the 6th Congressional District seat is up for grabs.

“It will save tax dollars,” Dorsey-Colomb said.

None of St. George’s organizers asked to address legislators. However, state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, asked the committee to give the organizers time to hold an election in December.

“What they would have is only two to three months left to get the remainder of petitions and get them certified,” White said.

Dorsey-Colomb refused to budge, and the committee adopted her amendment.

SB674 now advances to the full Senate.



Jindal enters N.H. school choice debate

Gov. Bobby Jindal has a message for the ACLU and teacher unions: Stay out the school choice debate.

Jindal wrote a column published this week in New Hampshire’s “Union Leader.” His column coincided with the New Hampshire Supreme Court entertaining arguments about a scholarship program.

In New Hampshire – much like in Louisiana – businesses can get tax breaks for making contributions that help fund private school scholarships. The ACLU and others sued, arguing that the program funnels tax money away from public schools and toward religious institutions. A trial court sided with the ACLU.

Jindal wrote: “… the ACLU lawsuit purports to assert — that tax funds are perpetually the property of government, and not the individuals and entities that earned the funds in the first place. Heaven forbid a business think that some private schools could do a better job teaching children than some government institutions, and attempt to redirect some of its funds toward what it considers to be better ends.”

The governor told New Hampshire readers that a union leader in Louisiana suggested low income parents were clueless about picking schools for their children.

Jindal wrote: “Notice a pattern here? The ACLU doesn’t want businesses giving their money to organizations other than government schools. Union leaders in Louisiana don’t think parents are well-equipped enough to choose the “right” schools for their sons and daughters. And the Justice Department doesn’t believe that allowing poor minority children to escape from failing schools advances the causes of racial integration.”


Bill allowing teachers to carry guns sputters

Legislation that would allow teachers and school administrators to carry guns on campuses swiftly ran into problems Wednesday during its first committee outing.

State Rep. Ray Garofalo, R-Meraux, pulled House Bill 707 after meeting resistance from former law enforcement officials on the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee. He vowed to continue working on the bill.

Guns are banned on school campuses in Louisiana. HB707 would create an exception for teachers and administrators who meet several requirements. First, they would need a concealed handgun permit. They also would need firearms training and the permission of education officials.

Garofalo said he did not envision every teacher bringing a gun to school. His goal, he said, was to plant in people’s minds that guns might be present on campus.

“The primary goal here is to send a message to the criminals and the crazies,” he said.

Garofalo said the “gun free zone” signs on school campuses tell criminals that they can go on easy killing sprees, putting children at risk.

“It’s ridiculous, your bill. It’s ridiculous,” state Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, told him.

Norton said teachers are not law enforcement officers. Arming them, she said, would endanger children.

Garofalo said he was open to suggestions, and state Rep. Terry Landry immediately offered one.

“You said you would take suggestions. The first suggestion I would have is why don’t you pull this bill, voluntarily?” Landry said.

Landry, D-New Iberia, is a former State Police commander. He said there are bad players in every profession and suggested it would be irresponsible to allow teachers to carry guns without undergoing  psychological evaluations.

State Rep. Steven E. Pylant, R-Crowville and a former sheriff, said the training courses mentioned in Garofalo’s legislation basically teach law enforcement officers how to hang onto their weapons. He said most police officers are killed with their own guns.

Pylant said he feared gang-affiliated students grabbing Susie the Teacher’s gun and shooting her with it.

State Rep. Sherman Q. Mack, R-Albany, said he also had concerns about a really big student overpowering a teacher.

Garofalo agreed to yank the bill from the committee’s consideration.

“We may be able to come to a good solution if we take a little more time,” he said.


Wednesday at the Louisiana Legislature

House convenes at 2:00 p.m.
Senate convenes at 9:00 a.m.

Criminal Justice. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 6. Agenda includes: Removed: HB 258, HB 673, HB 745

  • HB13 Creates the crime of unlawful sales of firearms.
  • HB71 Limits appeals of death row inmates.
  • HB494 Provides that the right to keep and bear arms includes the right to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or license.
  • HB508 Provides relative to certain offenses of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
  • HB511 Provides relative to operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
  • HB519 Authorizes the possession of short barrel firearms without federal registration for lifetime concealed handgun permit holders.
  • HB520 Excludes carrying a concealed handgun from the crime of illegal carrying of weapons for certain persons.
  • HB546 Provides with respect to restitution in criminal cases.
  • HB638 Provides relative to the crime of failure to register as a sex offender or child predator.
  • HB639 Amends the definition of criminal offense against a victim who is a minor to include certain convictions of stalking.
  • HB697 Provides relative to the in-person periodic renewals of persons who are required to register but do not have a fixed residence address.
  • HB707 Creates an exception to the crime of carrying a concealed weapon on a school campus for concealed weapons holders who are teachers or administrators of certain schools.
  • HB885 Provides for certain procedures relative to the end of registration and notification requirements of convicted sex offenders and child predators.
  • HB1142 Provides relative to bail restrictions for offenses against a family or household member or dating partner.
  • HB1157 Amends provisions of law regarding intensive parole supervision.
  • HB1158 Creates the crime of solicitation of funds or transportation for certain unlawful purposes.
  • HB1216 Amends the crime of unlawful presence of a sex offender relative to a former victim.
  • SB296 Provides relative to inventory of untested sexual assault collection kits.
  • SB542 Requires annual report from the Gaming Control Board on impact of technology advances on gaming industry.

Education. 9:00 a.m. in Committee Room 1. Agenda includes: Added: HCR 61; Removed: HB 407, HB 867.  NOTE: Committee will reconvene after adjournment and may consider any instrument not disposed of during the morning session. HB 1177 WILL BE heard after adjournment.

  • HB89 Provides relative to the payment of accrued liabilities of retirement systems and other retirement obligations from minimum foundation program funds allocated to charter schools.
  • HB184 Provides relative to assets or property acquired or used by charter schools under certain circumstances.
  • HB701 Provides relative to student eligibility for vouchers.
  • HB702 Provides relative to eligibility of kindergarten students for participation in the voucher program.
  • HB703 Prohibits the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from authorizing charter schools under certain circumstances.
  • HB816 Requires that the Recovery School District provide advance notice to contractors when decisions have been made to cancel contracts.
  • HB836 Requires the state Dept. of Education to develop an accountability system for nonpublic schools participating in the voucher program and requires compliance with the system by such schools.
  • HB876 Provides relative to greetings and displays associated with traditional celebrations in winter in public schools.
  • HB941 Provides for allocations of certain public school funds to building renovation and replacement purposes in certain school districts.
  • HB1177 Provides relative to the governance of schools in large school systems.
  • HB1199 Provides relative to parents’ access to information about schools and instructional materials used by schools.
  • HB1228 Provides relative to a program for educating students with exceptionalities.
  • HB1243 Provides conditions and prohibitions relative to approval of certain charter school proposals.
  • HCR61 Urges and requests BESE to develop a statewide funding model for early childhood care and educational services.

Health & Welfare. 10:30 a.m. in Committee Room 5. Agenda includes: Removed:  HB 720; Added: HCR 43, HB 1200

  • HB66 Requires state-affiliated physicians to serve on the State Medical Disability Board upon request of the Firefighters’ Retirement System.
  • HB216 Provides for preparation of pies in the home for public consumption.
  • HB228 Relative to criminal history of an adult living in a foster home.
  • HB294 Provides relative to preparation of cane syrup in the traditional manner for public consumption.
  • HB396 Provides relative to the membership of the Nursing Supply and Demand Council.
  • HB403 Provides for certificates of stillbirth and hospital policies concerning disposition of fetal remains.
  • HB775 Provides relative to home processors of food for sale.
  • HB889 Establishes a fund to educate Louisiana citizens on ways to opt out of the Affordable Care Act.
  • HB1052 Creates the Domestic Violence Prevention Commission.
  • HB1061 Provides relative to legal representation for children and indigent parents in child protection cases.
  • HB1148 Provides with respect to certain food service establishment permits.
  • HB1200 Provides relative to Medicaid recovery audit contractors and procedures.
  • HB1215 Provides relative to collaborative practice agreements between advanced practice registered nurses and physicians.
  • HCR38 Urges Louisiana’s congressional delegation to support a national moratorium on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • HCR43 Requests the State Board of Medical Examiners to study and make recommendations concerning authorization to perform certain surgical procedures.
  • HCR67 Provides for the Louisiana Colorectal Cancer Roundtable to be coordinated by the School of Public Health of the LSU Health Sciences Center at New Orleans.

House & Governmental Affairs. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 2. Agenda includes: Added: HB 616, HB 1178
Removed: HB175, HB 270, HB 627

  • HB121 Provides relative to records of the office of the governor.
  • HB198 Provides for the election sections for the City Court of Baton Rouge and for the number of judges elected from such sections.
  • HB318 Provides a public records exemption for certain documents of or in the possession of the Board of Tax Appeals.
  • HB614 Provides relative to certain deadlines relative to meetings of public bodies.
  • HB616 Provides relative to public records requests.
  • HB684 Exempts certain security districts and similar districts from certain requirements for public notice and for recording or broadcast of certain meetings.
  • HB686 Provides relative to disclosure of information concerning certain boards and commissions.
  • HB716 Establishes protections for certain independent public contractors who report criminal activity on the part of public entities.
  • HB879 Provides relative to insurance holding companies.
  • HB1121 Provides an exemption from the Public Records Law for certain commercially sensitive information of a public power authority.
  • HB1135 Exempts certain records and information pertaining to selection or service of a grand or petit jury from the Public Records Law.
  • HB1151 Provides relative to the election of judges for the City Court of Baton Rouge.
  • HB1178 Provides relative to the membership and election of members of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.
  • HB1207 Provides references in the Public Records Law to exemptions applicable to certain records relative to insurance.

Insurance. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 3. Agenda includes: Removed: HB 722, SB 169

  • HB470 Requires insurers who are admitted to write homeowner’s policies in the state to provide coverage on any residential structure which has been constructed or retrofitted to comply with the Uniform Construction Code.
  • HB1163 Requires an insurer who obtains a consumer’s credit report to provide a copy of the credit report to the applicant.
  • HB1203 Provide that insurers may not use claims that did not exceed the insured’s deductible to cancel coverage.
  • HB1218 To provide with respect to notice of uninsured motorist coverage.
  • SB178 Provides with respect to health care sharing ministries.
  • SB181 Provides with respect to the Louisiana Citizens Insurance Corporation policy take-out program.
  • SB243 Provide with respect to the Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit.
  • SB247 Provides with respect to insurance fraud.
  • SB254 Provides relative to travel insurance.
  • SB436 Changes the sunset date of the “Sledge Jeansonne Louisiana Insurance Fraud Prevention Act”.

Natural Resources & Environment. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 4. Agenda includes: Removed: HB 1082

  • HB311 Removes lands located in the Atchafalaya Basin from certain state lease requirements.
  • HB609 Provides with respect to state property in Orleans parish.
  • HB782 Deposits proceeds collected by the state from the use or withdrawal of surface water into the Aquatic Plant Control Fund for aquatic weed control and eradication.
  • HB1081 Provides for the authority to transfer or lease certain state property in Lafayette Parish.
  • HB1085 Provides for the lease of certain state property in Ascension Parish.
  • HB1120 Determines that the Southern Hills Aquifer System is an area of groundwater concern and a critical area of groundwater concern and provides for limitations on groundwater removal from such aquifer system.
  • HB1154 Provides for the size and number of escape rings on crab traps.
  • HB1160 To require the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to establish a program to enhance and elevate professionalism in the commercial crab industry.
  • HB1204 Provides for alternate unit well permits.
  • HB1242 Authorizes the use of kayaks, canoes, and pirogues at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.
  • HCR52 Urges the commissioner of conservation to evaluate the appropriateness of restrictions on withdrawals from the Southern Hills Aquifer System.

Education. At adjournment in John J. Hainkel, Jr. Room. Agenda includes: Added: SB 358; Removed: SB 458

  • HB1016 Provides for State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who meet certain academic eligibility criteria relative to language proficiency.
  • SB144 Provides relative to the review and adoption of textbooks and other instructional materials.
  • SB225 Provides relative to assets or property acquired or used by charter schools under certain circumstances.
  • SB312 Enacts the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”.
  • SB358 Provides relative to the Louisiana Granting Resources and Autonomy for Diplomas Act to provide that certain high level autonomies relative to procurement apply to certain institutions under a shared service model.
  • SB366 Requires BESE to develop a master plan for K-12 education.
  • SB598 Authorizes appropriate early childhood programs to engage in cooperative purchasing.
  • SB599 Provides relative to TOPS reporting requirements.
  • SB635 Moves the Cecil J. Picard Educational and Recreational Center from the Department of Education to the office of juvenile justice.

Labor & Industrial Relations. At adjournment in Committee Room C. Agenda includes:

  • SB159 Provides relative to definition of wages.
  • SB359 Limits penalty for failure to pay wages.
  • SB372 To provide for auditing of employer records for unemployment compensation.
  • SB412 Provides with respect to retaliation in employment.

Local & Municipal Affairs. At adjournment in Committee Room F. Agenda includes: Removed: SB 579, HB 577

  • HB97 Provides relative to a sales and use tax for the Union Parish School Board.
  • HB173 Provides relative to the Sherwood Forest Crime Prevention and Neighborhood Improvement District.
  • HB201 Provides relative to the powers granted to the mayor pro tempore in a Lawrason Act municipality.
  • HB253 Authorizes the governing authority of St. Tammany Parish to create a geographic information system district.
  • HB456 Provides that the position of police chief for the city of Covington is in the unclassified service.
  • HB576 Exempts Mandeville from certain laws regarding wages and hours of police officers.
  • HB579 Grants the governing authority of the city of Sulphur the power to grant certain powers and duties to the city’s zoning commission.
  • HB904 Provides relative to the civil service status of employees of the Cottonport Housing Authority.
  • HB1012 Provides relative to a special taxing district in Jefferson Parish.
  • SB425 Provides relative to private water supply or sewer system providers.
  • SB593 Limits the number of terms of office of any elected official of certain municipalities.
  • SB674 To provide relative to incorporation of unincorporated areas.

Transportation, Highways, & Public Works. At adjournment in Committee Room E. Agenda includes:

  • HB254 Provides relative to leasing of certain marina facilities operated by Jefferson Parish.
  • HB316 Exempts single axle two-wheel trailers from motor vehicle inspection requirements.
  • HB364 Provides for suspension and seizure of a person’s driver’s license.
  • HB419 Provides relative to access to public drainage for maintenance purposes.
  • HB655 Requires a person applying for a commercial driver’s license to provide a current medical examiner’s certificate.
  • HB860 Provides for the registration expiration date for certain commercial trucks and trailers.
  • HB896 Prohibits the use of photo speed enforcement devices on interstates.
  • SB79 Provides relative to flood protection authorities.
  • SB316 Provides relative to payments under public contracts.(8/1/14).
  • SB552 Provide relative to early contractor involvement (ECI) method for public contracts.
  • SB644 Provides relative to disposition of traffic citations on state highways.
  • SCR63 Requests DOTD to take action to provide greater safety to the motoring public at the intersection of Thomas Road and Scenic Highway in East Baton Rouge Parish..


Source: Louisiana News Bureau

Landrieu: Let people vote

Promoting it as a health care and economic issue, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu pushed Tuesday for Louisiana voters to decide the fate of Medicaid expansion.

“The governor has clearly put his political future ahead of the future of the state of Louisiana,” said Landrieu, D-La. “Let the people decide what is fair, whether they want to expand and use over $16 billion” in federal funds.

“It’s kind of our last hope to let the people make the decision. It’s not too much to ask,” said Landrieu.

The federal Affordable Care Act contains a provision under which the federal government would pay 100 percent of the expansion cost the first three years and no less than 90 percent in the ensuing years. The U.S. Supreme Court said states had an option of participating.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected the Medicaid expansion which would cover residents whose incomes are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. For an individual, it is $15,856 and for a family of four, $32,499. Jindal claims it would cost the state too much money long-term and it builds on a broken federal Medical program.

Landrieu led a conference call with state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, and state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, sponsors of proposed constitutional amendments that would provide nearly 250,000 mainly working adults with health insurance coverage

Nevers said his Senate Bill 96 would be heard next week in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The proposed constitutional amendment would direct the state Department of Health and Hospitals, effective Jan. 1, 2015, to administer a state program providing access to health insurance to legal residents whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The proposition would be submitted to voters Nov. 4 if it wins approval by a two-thirds vote of the state Senate and House.

Landrieu said the proposition makes good economic sense. “In order to have a strong workforce you need a healthy workforce,” she said. She said the state is rejecting $16 billion available “to strengthen the work force.”

Tea Party Express backs Dietzel

Sixth Congressional District candidate Paul Dietzel has received the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee.

“At only 28 years old, Paul has amassed an impressive resume,including building an extremely successful technology company from scratch,” Tea Party Express executive director Taylor Budowich said in a statement.

“However, the most impressive thing about Paul is not just his background as a successful businessman, but rather his strong desire to change the big-spending culture in Washington D.C.,” Budowich said of the Republican Paul.

“Paul has pledged to take on the special interests in the nation’s capital and to truly represent the people in Louisiana’s 6th district.”

He said Dietzel is not a career politician and “represents a breath of fresh air that is much needed in Washington, D.C.”

The Tea Party Express supported Dietzel because he supports cutting taxes, reducing burdensome regulations, repealing Obamacare and “balancing our nation’s budget through economic growth and ending wasteful government spending,” Budowich said.

Panel OKs heroin penalty hike

A state Senate panel advanced legislation Tuesday that could bring 99 year prison sentences for distributors of heroin.

The measure comes with heroin-related deaths soaring, particularly in south Louisiana. It is part of efforts to discourage those responsible for the drug distribution from operating in Louisiana.

“The point I’m trying to make here is that if you want to kill a snake you don’t cut off the tail, you cut off the head,” said bill sponsor state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.

Senate Bill 87 would give judges the discretion of imposing a 99-year prison term. Under current law, the maximum sentence is 50 years. The mandatory minimum of five years would stay in effect.

When he was a prosecutor in Orleans Parish years ago, Claitor said heroin distribution brought a life sentence.

“The people distributing heroin deserve it” because the drug is a death sentence for some, Claitor said. He said the drug is also a life sentence for others because when people get on they never get off of it.

“If I had my druthers, I’d go back to life,” Claitor said.

The  Senate Committee on Judiciary C shipped the legislation to the Senate floor for further debate.

State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, noted the rash of heroin overdose deaths occurring in East Baton Rouge, with the coroner arriving to find  the deceased “still having a needle in their arm.”

From 2012 to 2013, the number of heroin deaths increased from 5 to 34 in East Baton Rouge and the trend is continuing this year.

Nevers not David, Jindal not Goliath

Democrats are pushing legislation that would call for a statewide vote on whether Louisiana should accept the federal dollars and expand the rolls of Medicaid. Facing a Republican-dominated Louisiana Legislature and the opposition of Gov. Bobby Jindal, many believe that there’s not much hope it’ll pass.

State Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, says when he’s asked why he’s pushing that legislation against such odds, he answers: “I’m certainly not a David, but I’ll tell you what, our governor is not a Goliath either. It’s time we the people stood up and said why would we want to turn down $16 billion over the next 10 years.”