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LABI issues 2014 legislative scorecard

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry released its legislative scorecard Thursday highlighting those who routinely voted pro-business during the 2014 legislative session.

Getting a 100 percent score were state Reps. Simone Champagne, R-Jeanerette, Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, Lenar Whitney, R-Houma, and Richard Buford, R-Stonewall. They will receive special recognition as “LABI’s 2014 Most Valuable Policymakers”.

LABI reported that nearly 21 percent of Louisiana’s 144 legislators received an “A” scoring 90 to 100 percent for supporting the business lobby’s priority issues. Among them are state Sen. Dan Claitor, and state Reps. Steve Carter, Barry Ivey and Erich Ponti, all Republicans from Baton Rouge.

Details for all legislators may be found on-line at

“LABI’s 2014 Legislative Scorecard recognizes legislators who voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy, and provides voters with valuable information and direction in advance of the upcoming elections,” LABI president Stephen Waguespack said in a statement.

The average score among the 39-member Senate was 68.5 percent while the average score in 105-member House  was 64.5 percent.

LABI represents 2,500 member businesses across the state.

All eight Louisianians in Congress — U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming, Vance McAllister, Cedric Richmond and Steve Scalise — press VA on delayed payments for emergency medical care

All eight Louisianians in Congress — U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming, Vance McAllister, Cedric Richmond and Steve Scalise — are pressing the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to help veterans plagued by delayed payments for emergency medical care.

In a letter to VA secretary Robert McDonald, the senators and representatives cite widespread mishandling of claims from veterans for coverage of emergency care. The inappropriate delays and denials have harmed the credit ratings of hundred of Louisiana veterans, the letter says.

The letter calls on McDonald to fix the claims-processing system and reach out to veterans unfairly harmed by the snafus.




Campaign signs removed as obscene

imagejpeg_0A worker for the City of Denham Springs started pulling up campaign signs that ridiculed former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards for being a crook.

Cassie Felder, a Republican who is running to replace U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, has a campaign sign that says “Don’t Vote for the Crook. It’s important,” a take off on Edwards’ popular slogan when he ran against David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan chief, in the 1991 governor’s race. Edwards won.

Edwards, who spent nine years in federal prison before being released in 2011, is running for the 6th congressional district seat against Felder and 11 other candidates.

Apparently, the city worker thought the signs were “obscene, indecent or immoral character that will offend public morals and decency”as defined by city ordinance.

City Attorney Paeton Burkett said the worker removed two of the signs and was reminded that the campaign signs fall under a different ordinance – one that regulates more whether their size and placement interrupts  drivers’ views of oncoming traffic rather than political campaign-speak. She said the cleanup effort was halted and the signs returned to Felder’s campaign.

Felder, of course, tweeted about first amendment rights, attracting the attention of Edwards’ wife, Trina, who tweeted back “…unfortunately for us, you have no shot of making the runoff. Believe me; we’d love to have you.”


Louisiana GOP begins accepting bitcoin contributions

The Louisiana Republican Party has started accepting bitcoin donations.

The Louisiana GOP says it is the first major state political party in the country to embrace the Internet-based currency.

“We are always looking for ways to reach and engage our supporters,” LAGOP executive director Jason Doré said in a news release on the party’s decision to begin accepting bitcoin contributions. “For us, this is also about living out our party’s principles. As a party, we embrace innovation, the free market and oppose inflationary monetary policy. All of these principles are embodied in bitcoin.”

Bitcoin, a decentralized, peer-to-peer payment system created in 2009, has its critics, who say it’s risky and potentially volatile, as well as its fans, who hail it as the currency of the future.

The Federal Election Commission agreed to allowing campaign donations via bitcoin  earlier this year.

Donations will be processed by a third-party that will instantly convert the digital currency to U.S. dollars, which will go to the state GOP’s bank account like traditional contributions. According to the state party, campaign finance reporting also will be the same.

The Louisiana GOP worked with, a consulting firm that specializes in bitcoin campaign contributions, to develop its system and ensure federal compliance.

“They are leading the way in embracing innovation and the future of payment technology,” BitPolitic developer Grant Bourque said in the news release.

Higher ed commissioner search meetings scheduled; candidates remain unknown

Louisiana Board of Regents members who are handling the search for a new state higher education commissioner will be in Kenner this week for “meetings with interested individuals” at the New Orleans Hilton Airport.

Twenty-five people have been under consideration for Louisiana’s top higher ed leadership post, but the state board has declined to release their names.

It remains unclear how many people are being brought in or who they are.

A board spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to The Advocate’s request for more information today, after sending out a notice of the meetings scheduled Wednesday and Thursday.

UPDATE: Here’s the board response with more details about this week’s meeting, from spokeswoman Katara Williams: “Some of those individuals have specifically requested a meeting with the members of the Board before they can confirm their interest in the position. Similarly, the Board deems such a preliminary face-to-face meeting necessary to determine its level of interest. Once these meetings take place, the Board will be in a better position to assess the mutual interest of each individual and the Board. At that point, the Board will be in a position to announce the names of those who are interested in the job and the Board has an interest in considering for the job. I assure you that the Board, at that time, will announce those names and I will provide their resumes, background information and qualifications of those individuals.”

An earlier timeline released by the board said semifinalists would be announced Aug. 28 and finalists would be selected this week.

At a meeting last month, the committee went into a closed-door meeting and didn’t openly discuss candidates under consideration.

Jim McCormick of Washington, D.C.-based AGB Search said at the time that candidates haven’t yet been vetted for interest and the list includes people who were nominated by others.

The search for a new commissioner formally launched in July, after state lawmakers, in the final days of the 2014 legislative session, handed Regents the authority to set the job’s salary — a task previously left to a legislative committee.

The state Senate must still confirm the finalist for the job, though that’s typically a formality.

Louisiana’s former higher education commissioner Jim Purcell quietly left the post in March, three years after taking the job that oversees Louisiana’s colleges and universities.

AGB Search will receive up to $75,000 for assisting with the search and related expenses.

Officials have said the new commissioner will be paid in the mid-$300,000 range. Purcell was paid $275,000. The commissioner doesn’t receive free housing, a car or other perks that university presidents and chancellors often receive.

Board members serving on the search committee include Chairman Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry, Albert Sam II, Mark Abraham, Charlotte Bollinger, Raymond Brandt, Joseph Farr, Chris Gorman and Robert Levy.

Dasher gets key backing

Zach Dasher, who is challenging the reelection of U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, picked up two endorsements from national groups on Tuesday.

Dasher is a Republican from Calhoun whose chief claim to fame, so far, is that his mother is sister of Duck Commander Phil Robertson, who leads the “Duck Dynasty” family of reality television fame. The Robertson family backed McAllister last year, before the Swartz Republican was caught on a security tape kissing a woman not his wife. The Robertsons have switched allegiances.

Dasher received the backing of Citizens United and Club for Growth.

“Zach Dasher is a Christian conservative who will fight to bring our shared values back to Washington,” said David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United, in a prepared statement. “As a businessman, Zach Dasher understands how to get the economy moving again and that it starts with getting Big Government out of the way.”

Citizens United, a conservative lobbying group based Washington, D.C., is known as the plaintiff in a lawsuit that led to a split U.S. Supreme Court decision that political federal law that had prohibited corporations from spending money on political advertising violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Everyone in Louisiana knows about Vance McAllister’s personal problems, but far less is known about his extremely liberal record,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “When he ran for Congress last year, Vance McAllister pushed for expanding ObamaCare in Louisiana and told voters ‘we’re past the point of repealing’ it.”

Club for Growth is an advocacy group, based in Washington, D.C., focused on cutting taxes and whose political action committee backs, primarily, Republican congressional candidates.


Bobby Jindal to unveil national energy policy proposal

Gov. Bobby  Jindal is expected to release a national energy policy proposal dubbed “Organizing Around Abundance – Making America an Energy Superpower” this week through his non-profit America Next organization, the same outfit he has used to push a health care reform plan.

Jindal’s office on Monday announced the governor is heading to WashingtonD.C., where he will participate in a Christian Science Monitor breakfast and then give a speech on jobs at the Heritage Foundation.

Jindal will travel to Houston on Wednesday before returning to Baton Rouge. This week’s trips are among the latest — he’s been to Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona and Florida in recent weeks — as he considers a run for president in 2016.

La. ranks poorly in tax fairness survey

Louisiana ranks near the bottom of a WalletHub list ranking the fairness of its tax system among 50 states.

The WalletHub survey released Monday puts Louisiana among the states with the least fair tax system with a ranking of  39 out of 50. The least fair – Washington.

To rank the states, WalletHub conducted a nationally representative online survey of 1,050 individuals to assess what Americans think a fair state and local tax system looks like. Its analysts then compared what Americans think is fair to data on the real structure of tax systems in all 50 states.

Based on the survey, Louisiana also ranks among the top 10 states where the middle class are the most overtaxed.

The most overtaxed middle class live in Arkansas and Louisiana ranks tenth based on the survey  by the personal finance social network.

Montana has the most fair tax system followed by Oregon and South Carolina, according to the survey.

The survey may be found at


GOP plans event to woo Vietnamese-American voters

The Republican National Committee and Louisiana Republican Party will host a town hall meeting this week in Jefferson Parish on Vietnamese-American engagement.

The event will feature former Congressman Joseph Cao, R-New Orleans. Cao, a Vietnamese American, held Louisiana’s 2nd District seat for two years before losing a 2011 re-election bid to Democrat Cedric Richmond.

The most recent Census figures show Jefferson Parish has the highest concentration of people who self-identify as Asian in Louisiana. Orleans Parish also is among the top parishes for Asian population.

According to a news release, the event will emphasize “get out the vote” efforts,  Asian Pacific American engagement and issues of importance to the Vietnamese-American community.

The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday Tại Nhà Hàng August Moon, Harvey.

Bill Cassidy gets NRA endorsement in Senate race

The National Riffle Association is backing Congressman Bill Cassidy to back in Louisiana’s heated U.S. Senate race.

“Throughout your career, you have consistently opposed all attempts to ban lawfully-owned firearms and magazines, and have stood strong against President Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control agenda,” the NRA’s Political Victory Fund wrote in a letter to Cassidy announcing the endorsement this week.

Cassidy faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and tea party-backed Republican Rob Maness in the Nov. 4 election.

Maness has been endorsed by the National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America and Gun Rights Across America.

Meanwhile Landrieu recently announced that she has secured endorsements from 500 local elected officials across the state.