Politics Column for Dec. 30, 2012

Dardenne wishes La. ‘Pick Your Passion’

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s holiday message made use of Louisiana’s “Pick Your Passion” tourism theme as he and his family wished all well.

“Pick Your Holiday Passion” the card beckoned. Making the list were Bonfires on the Levee, “Cajun Night Before Christmas,” Christmas in the Oaks, Natchitoches Christmas Festival, Oyster Dressing, Vince Vance’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” “Nutcracker: A Tale from the Bayou” and oh so much more.

Taking a little different tactic was Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

When he sent out holiday cards this year, Campbell took what he would have called during his days as a state senator, “a moment of personal privilege.”

On the back of his greeting cards, Campbell put a photograph of Justified 101, a bull he owns. The information below the photo explains why Campbell is proud of Justified 101. The bull was named Grand Champion Angus Bull for 2012 at a number of livestock shows.

Veterans secretary Carson retires

Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Lane Carson is retiring.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration announced Carson’s decision in a news release, which included no details on why he is leaving the job he’s held since 2008.

Serving in the secretary’s post on an interim basis will be David LaCerte, the agency’s deputy secretary and executive counsel, the Governor’s Office said. LaCerte has been with the agency since June 2010.

LaCerte will be paid the same $130,000 annual salary Carson has been receiving, according to the Governor’s Office.

Carson is a former state legislator and Vietnam War veteran who was wounded in combat.

During Carson’s tenure, veterans service offices were opened and maintained in every parish, eligibility was expanded for all Louisiana veterans and their spouses into the state’s five veterans homes, and a program started to connect veterans with jobs and business opportunities.

Gov. Jindal grants extra days off

No one can accuse Gov. Bobby Jindal of being a grinch this time of year.

And no one can accuse Jindal of not planning ahead or adding a bit of humor to his official actions.

Jindal, who has been attacked by some as being a foe of state government workers, gave a sort of trifecta gift to state workers this year.

Jindal signed three separate proclamations declaring the days immediately following Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as official state holidays.

The Friday after Thanksgiving was declared Acadian Day in honor of the contributions the Acadian people made to the state.

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, both on a Monday, were declared holidays so that state employees and others would benefit from the extra legal holiday during a time given to counting blessings and promoting family values.

It was Halloween Day when Jindal issued the proclamations giving state workers three four-day weekends. Obviously, Jindal was given to treats rather than tricks this year.

Lens article
analyzes Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal was portrayed as being less than tolerant of divergent opinions in a recent news piece done for The Lens, a Web-based news outlet in New Orleans.

Tyler Bridges, a former Times-Picayune reporter who covered state government and politics some years ago, talked to some former Jindal administration officials and others who were tossed from their jobs after making public statements the governor didn’t like.

Bridges’ story paints a picture of a governor who has little tolerance for those who don’t hew to the official administration line and is quick to seek to muzzle those who disagree with him.

Bridges’ article begins with an account of a meeting between former Gov. Kathleen Blanco and LSU professor Robert Mann, who holds the Manship Chair in Journalism and is the director of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. Mann once worked for Blanco and is a frequent critic of Jindal.

As Bridges tells it, Blanco was worried about Mann and asked him: “You do have tenure, don’t you?”

Bridges reports that Mann does have tenure and is not planning to muffle his criticism of the Jindal administration.

Read the full article online at http://thelensnola.org/2012/12/21/jindal-gaining-reputation-for-punishing-people-who-stand-in-his-way.

Donelon to
head NAIC

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon will become president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on Tuesday.

Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, coordinate their regulatory oversight and have a critical role in the implementation of those measures as they impact the insurance markets and consumers across the nation and beyond.

Donelon, a former state representative, joined the staff of the Louisiana Department of Insurance in 2001 as chief deputy commissioner. He’s been a member of the NAIC since becoming Louisiana’s commissioner in 2006.

During Donelon’s tenure, Louisiana abolished its Insurance Rating Commission, which he said eliminated an impediment to companies coming to do business here. He also pushed legislative initiatives that limit named-storm deductibles to one per hurricane season and increased the Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association coverage to $500,000 per claim — a recently adopted NAIC model provision.

Board lists oversights in campaign finances

Unsuccessful state representative candidate Donald Menard is facing charges that he failed to accurately disclose information in his campaign finance report filings.

Menard, a Republican from the village of Cankton in St. Landry Parish, lost in a bid for the House District 39 seat which is now held by state Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro.

“Mr. Donald Menard failed to accurately disclose contributions from the following persons in connection with the November 19, 2011, election,” according to the charges issued by the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

The list of oversights includes contributions from Health Agents PAC; a political action committee of House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles; state Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette; state Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette; Leadership for Louisiana; La. State Medical PAC; Louisiana State Farm Agents PAC and La. Realtors PAC.

The Ethics Board forwarded the charges to the Ethics Adjudicatory Board for a hearing.

Kennedy: Save
for college

As the new year approaches, state Treasurer John Kennedy is encouraging parents, grandparents and others to start investing in a Louisiana START 529 college savings account for the children in their lives.

“A START account is not only a generous and wise gift for a loved one, it also happens to be the best and last solid tax break available to families,” Kennedy wrote in a message,

START accounts can be opened on behalf of a future student with the initial investment of as little as $10. When opening a START account, the investor can exempt up to $2,400 in deposits per account per year from income reported on their state tax returns. Married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $4,800 in deposits.

In addition, the state pays a match on deposits ranging from 2 percent to 14 percent.

Information on START accounts may be received by contacting the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance at (800) 259-5626, ext. 1012, or visit www.startsaving.la.gov.

Compiled by The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is mballard@theadvocate.com.