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Letter: Insurance commissioner has little power to regulate cost

As Louisiana’s insurance commissioner, I wanted to take a moment to share my concerns about the rising cost of health insurance facing individuals, families, and businesses in our state. I take very seriously my role to regulate a market for insurance that is affordable, accessible and reliable. Our team at the Louisiana Department of Insurance works hard… Continue reading →

Letter: Children, not misconstrued comment, are what counts

I have been in education for 43 years, championing for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds and races. During my tenure in Lafayette, I have paid particular attention to poor minority students and championed for equity in their education. So to be characterized as a racist is particularly concerning to me and unfair as it does not reflect my… Continue reading →

Our Views: Renewal fights bites

As voters in East Baton Rouge Parish go to the polls, we think they will find one tax renewal that is quite popular. That is the funding to fight mosquitoes. The 1-mill property tax is known to most of us as the funding for spraying for mosquitoes. On the Nov. 4 ballot, it authorizes eradication or… Continue reading →

Our Views: Showcasing new Main Library

As a champion of Internet culture as a force for good, Clive Thompson seems like an unlikely enthusiast of the traditional book. But during his recent lecture at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, Thompson had good things to say about the bound paper volumes that fill the library’s collection. “I… Continue reading →

Letter: Landrieu fights for students

Scarcely noticed amid the exultations over gains in student achievement in Louisiana is perhaps a more significant development in school reform. At long last, our state is inching ever closer to that elusive goal of providing a high-quality school in every neighborhood and access to good schools regardless of family ZIP code. Also… Continue reading →

Letter: Strong economy requires action on climate change

Climate change supercharges risks to our health and economy, and it is taxpayers and businesses that pay the price. We can turn our climate challenge into an opportunity to modernize our power sector, form a low-carbon economy and fuel growth. EPA’s fuel efficiency standards are an example of what’s possible. They’re… Continue reading →

Letter: Hong Kong leader should do the right thing and resign

Regarding “Hong Kong leader won’t quit, offers talks instead”: Hong Kong is having too many issues with their people protesting. The leader of the country should do the right thing and resign. No one in the country stands behind him; he has lost all respect for what he has done. Leung Chun-ying is… Continue reading →

Letter: Calling for transparency requires consistency

I would like to echo and reinforce the broader call for transparency by editor Mark Ballard that relates to LSU President and Chancellor King Alexander’s comments on university costs (Capitol Buzz, Sept 28). Dr. Alexander correctly holds up the lower costs of public universities (“better value for money”) than prestigious private ones. But a subtext of… Continue reading →

Letter: Support the Wildlife and Fisheries Dept. with a yes vote

I take exception to the Advocate’s opposition to Constitutional Amendment 8. The Artificial Reef Fund is administered by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, a state agency, which is totally self-funded and receives no monies from the state general fund. In previous years, the current administration raided this fund to the tune of $44.5 million… Continue reading →

Lanny Keller: Old friends, a few million apart

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Advocate Columnist Lanny Keller.

Editor’s note: Today The Advocate’s Commentary page begins a column by Lanny Keller that will appear on Wednesdays. Keller’s column will focus on politics and public policy in the Baton Rouge area, with occasional commentary on issues in the wider region and state government. Keller has been an award-winning editorial writer for The Advocate since 1998. Over… Continue reading →

Our Views: A voice of the young

We have the first lady’s word for it, that a New Orleans high school senior has a fan for her poetry: The president himself read the work of Madeleine LeCesne, and liked it. That’s what Michelle Obama told LeCesne and four other National Student Poets honored at the White… Continue reading →

Our Views: Helping small business

With major expansions of Veterans Affairs operations in Louisiana, it would seem the worst time for the state to drop a program that enables small businesses to be a part of purchasing and contracting with the VA. But that appears to be a possibility, with a state match for a federal grant having… Continue reading →

Letter: Columnist Gill ignores the facts with imaginary quotes

Baton Rouge editorialist and knee-jerk contrarian James Gill has trotted out a fiction about my restaurant, Bergeron’s. It is a sick, tired fantasy in which armed citizens create violence and havoc rather than making the world a safer place. In the absence of a thoughtful critique of my policy of offering a 10… Continue reading →

Letter: Empower the disabled through employment

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The goal of this national campaign is to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” My agency recently hosted two Young African Leaders Initiative… Continue reading →

2014 vote: Your handy voting guide to upcoming elections

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As a handy guide for voting in the Nov. 4 election, here’s a recap of The Advocate’s positions on various proposals on the ballot in the Baton Rouge area. Early voting Oct. 21 through Oct. 28 is the early voting period for the Nov. 4, 2014 primary (except Sunday). Early voting… Continue reading →

Our Views: We support Ascension tax

Growth in Ascension Parish during the past generation has been phenomenal, as families flock to the parish to take advantage of its public school system. That’s meant a big increase in the number of youngsters in Ascension, and the parish’s recreation facilities and programs simply haven’t kept up with the growth. That’s… Continue reading →

Letter: Schools, roads and police need crucial new taxes

This is going to be the most unpopular letter to the editor I have ever submitted, but I believe it is time someone addressed the issues. I realize no one likes to pay taxes and it is obvious that none of our legislators want to address the need for new taxes. However, our school systems are… Continue reading →

Letter: Opinion of coastal lawsuit is invalid

Quin Hillyer’s latest editorial opposing the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit against the oil and gas companies for wetland destruction conveniently fails to mention that those companies were legally required under their state permits to restore the affected wetlands. He and the oil and gas companies admit responsibility for said damage and express a willingness to help… Continue reading →

Letter: Fictional gun story outlines problems

In James Gill’s piece (“Bullets and biscuits: A Port Allen lunch story” Oct. 5), diners’ responding to the accidental firing of a pistol “figured the place was being robbed. … Forks were cast aside, while furious customers reached for their pieces. Rat-a-tat-tat!” A police spokesman said casualty figures would be released as soon as local hospitals could provide… Continue reading →

Letter: Gill way off target with his opinion

If Mr. Gill wishes to provoke a meaningful debate about gun control in Louisiana and the country in general, he grossly missed his mark with the rambling nonsensical garbage published in The Advocate on Oct. 5. The fictional narrative not only presented no logical arguments for responsible gun control, it was… Continue reading →

Louisiana Spotlight: Few options to stop insurance changes

Besieged with complaints, Louisiana lawmakers have responded with a mix of loud criticism and worry about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping changes to the health insurance program for state workers, teachers and retirees. But for now, that’s about all they can do. Until they return for a legislative session in April,… Continue reading →

James Gill: Free ride, in more ways than one

District Judge J. Robin Free, of Port Allen, was re-elected without opposition a few months ago, but perhaps he wouldn’t have had a free ride if his habitual disregard for the code of ethics had been public knowledge. Free is a great fan of the free ride, which is one of the reasons he now faces suspension.… Continue reading →

Our Views: Tough job for Rallo

Memo to Joseph Rallo: Welcome to a passel of problems. As the state’s new commissioner of higher education, Rallo comes from Texas at a time of transition for Louisiana’s colleges and universities. The deep budget cuts during the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal have forced major increases in tuition, even as the… Continue reading →

Our Views: Mandeville issues need support

In the Nov. 4 election, Mandeville voters will consider four proposed changes to the city’s home rule charter, as well as a proposal to rededicate half of a 1-cent sales tax to help fund other city needs. Here are our positions on these proposals: Amendment Package 1, technical changes. Yes.Continue reading →

Letter: Blame physicians for Medicare, Social Security failure

Recently, Mr. Michael Sellen offered several reasons for the failure of Medicare and Social Security in the near future. He emphasizes the large number of people who fake disabilities in order to collect Social Security checks each month. He also mentions the large number of people who have never contributed to the fund but still collect… Continue reading →

Letter: Unarmed shootings shouldn’t have to be a wake-up call

Regarding “Video shows shooting of unarmed driver”: The shooting incident that occurred in Columbia, South Carolina, is another example of police brutality and cruelty amongst blacks and other minorities. With this incident happening weeks after the well-known Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, I am surprised this South Carolina shooting hasn’t sparked much anger out of the… Continue reading →

Our Views: A new look at gun laws

The decisions in 2008 and 2010 of the U.S. Supreme Court on gun rights, broadening the traditional interpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, are knocking over some local restrictions on firearms, including an overly broad East Baton Rouge ordinance. The city-parish law prohibited residents from keeping firearms in their parked cars… Continue reading →

Letter: OGB should rethink changes

AARP Louisiana has strong concerns about the sweeping changes recently proposed by the Office of Group Benefits (OGB), and we urge all parties involved to slow down and reconsider this proposal. The health care changes proposed will affect 230,000 active and retired employees. It is no small decision.… Continue reading →

Letter: Send ‘illegal’ immigrants home

I’m sick and tired of the federal government’s dismal failure to enforce two of the Constitution’s highest priorities: protect our borders and provide for the public welfare. Immigration has been a hot topic for years, yet Congress nor the president has done anything serious to do either of the above. I don’t have any problems with… Continue reading →

Letter: ‘Bobbycare’ destroying health insurance

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, our school-aged son was given a commonly prescribed medication by his physician. My wife attempted to get the pharmacy to fill it. We were shocked and horrified to find that it was rejected by our health insurance: Office of Group Benefits HMO plan through BlueCross, a health insurance plan for Louisiana public employees.… Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Chat with grandson brings good news

This past weekend, I got to watch a video of my grandson making some dazzling moves on the football field. He took a kickoff from near his goal and made a couple quick moves before darting and slashing across the field more than 90 yards to a touchdown. I was smiling and laughing as I watched him.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Political role-reversal in letters column

Just what is the world coming to? First, coastal lawsuit mastermind John Barry teamed up with my proudly conservative colleague Quin Hillyer, a harsh critic of Barry’s attempt to force oil and gas companies to compensate his former agency, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority- East, for environmental damage caused by their operations. The two… Continue reading →