Political Horizons: Chances of expanding Medicaid slim

Last year, the Louisiana Legislature’s Democrats systematically threw themselves against different parts of the Republican majority’s electric fence — looking, unsuccessfully, for weaknesses in the GOP opposition to the federal Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. Democrats tried several bills with different variables; they trotted out a variety of parliamentary strategies; they held rallies — everything … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Louisiana’s continuing angst

Unemployment is down. The economy is growing. Festival season is starting. All should be cheery in Sportsman’s Paradise. But statewide polls released last week say “No.” A vast number of Louisiana residents told pollsters that the state is headed in the wrong direction. One survey found that two-thirds believe the state’s elected officials can’t … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: New kind of campaign coming to Louisiana

Because Louisiana voters have been seeing red over the past few years, the state was pretty much left out of the 2012 presidential campaign, but for a couple trips to pick up money behind closed doors and a hurricane photo op. With Republicans holding all statewide elected positions, a majority of the Louisiana Legislature, and all the … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Racial divide still shapes La. politics

A couple of weeks ago, U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness told a room of Baton Rouge Republicans that racism and prejudice was pretty much over. “I believe our society is very close to becoming color blind,” Maness told the overwhelmingly white audience. Not to pick on Maness. He is a career military man who worked … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Focus should be on victim

Louisiana legislators ought to hear what Tonja Myles has to say. Since the United Nations started its campaign to curb the sex slave trade, politicians of all stripes have been talking about protecting the children, who they say are the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking. Most of the effort, however, has gone … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Unions could help develop workforce

Gov. Bobby Jindal last week said “workforce development” would be his big push for the upcoming legislative session. That means bills to develop, fine-tune, and fund programs that train workers will be the main theme when the Louisiana Legislature convenes in March, much as school vouchers and teacher tenure were in 2012. Over the next few … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Technology led to political gridlock

One thing I love about Christmas is the release of all the new books. This year, perhaps because of the current dysfunction in politics, many of the recently released selections have a fatalist feel. “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,” by Thomas … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Human trafficking legislation being considered

Even hardened state troopers who raided a massage parlor Thanksgiving week privately expressed revulsion at the living conditions of the girls accused of “prostitution by massage.” The images on television certainly seemed to confirm their opinions. And the raids were still being cited as Exhibit 1 a week later in media coverage of and testimony before … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: GOP candidates tack to the center

The election that sent political newcomer Vance McAllister to Congress last month seems to have reverberated more last week than the announcement that U.S. David Vitter, darling of the Louisiana GOP, would soon announce his 2015 gubernatorial intentions. Republican candidates for the south Louisiana 6th Congressional District echoed the “conservative but practical” message that worked so well … Continue reading →

Political Horizons for Oct. 27, 2013

This week a private citizen promised he would find about $30,000 to pay for basic maintenance and thereby end the Grambling State University football team’s mutiny, and Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered nearly $2 million in taxpayer dollars to house the personal papers of his mentor, former Gov. Mike Foster, in a first-of-its-kind archives. The situation might lend … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Reports support Obamacare

Once again, over-the-top political rhetoric is accompanying partisan bickering that threatens to send federal workers home in a government shutdown. Republicans and Democrats are toe-to-toe over President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” some of which has been implemented, some of which begins in … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Crawfish and computers

Quite a few New Orleanians of a certain age can still recall the address of a seafood store on North Broad that closed 20 years ago. The relentless commercials of Al Scarmuzza and “Seafood City, very pretty” are part of the reason why crawfish boils are now such a hallmark of Louisiana culture. Once only the … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Real ID fight gets unreal

So, when will Louisiana residents have to show a passport or some other federally accepted identification — rather than the driver’s licenses most use — to board an airplane? After three hours of testimony aimed at answering that question, state Sen. Jonathan Perry, scowling and shoving papers into his valise, said Thursday he doesn’t know. … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Civil rights remembrances

Fifty years ago tomorrow, James Farmer, one of the nation’s most famous civil rights leaders who was slated to address the “March on Washington,” was arrested in Plaquemine. He was sent to Ascension Parish because Iberville Parish didn’t have enough room for the number of people arrested. So, come Aug. 28, 1963, Farmer watched … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Jindal and Common Core

Does Gov. Bobby Jindal want to slow, change or even reverse Louisiana’s bid for tougher, national academic standards? The new classroom guidelines, which debut next year, are called common core standards. Backers see them as a way to improve student performance, and Louisiana has been signed on since 2010. Critics call them a thinly … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Politics long part of tax assessments

All the hubbub a couple weeks ago sounded familiar to Frank Simoneaux. Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera had reported that the Tax Commission’s lax oversight of parish assessors may have resulted in many neighbors paying different property taxes for very similar homes. Simoneaux, the former chairman of the state Ethics Board, thumbed through old legal … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Getting everyone on the same page

Buddy Roemer last week recalled asking Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev what was the biggest problem facing the Soviet Union. This was back in the late 1980s when Roemer was governor of a state reeling from economic setbacks in the energy industry and Gorbachev was head of an empire based on an economic theory that was teetering on … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Democrats react to GOP dominance in Legislature

Louisiana Republicans have been gloating recently since three prominent Democratic legislators switched their party allegiance to the GOP. Last week, state Sen. Rick Ward III, of Maringouin, joined. RW3 is the son of District Attorney Ricky Ward, a powerful political force in the heavily unionized Baton Rouge west bank parishes. The rumor around the … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Unpopularity hurts Jindal

A few weeks ago, the members of a Republican club in Mandeville blasted away at Gov. Bobby Jindal. There were harsh comments about this and that, but mostly it was about the depth — or lack thereof — of the governor’s involvement in state issues. Since the governor himself wasn’t there, two Louisiana House … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Capital outlay gets tighter

Under the “boring but important” heading for Louisiana’s taxpayers is news that interest rates began rising, meaning an end to the cheap money state government borrows to expand highways, repair buildings and make improvements. “We have to pay a higher interest rate, which means we have to pay more to borrow the money, which means we … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Jindal takes on GOP future

Gov. Bobby Jindal last week rapped on the windows of Republican kingmakers who lately have been enamored with other suitors for national high office. In an essay for the online publication “Politico,” Jindal Tuesday demanded Republican leadership “stop the bedwetting … put on your big-boy pants” and get back into the game. His screed, which has … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Race in La. politics

In 1959, Gov. Earl K. Long gave a sometimes incoherent speech about race in the Louisiana Legislature. He was criticizing the efforts of state Sen. Willie Rainach, a Claiborne Parish Democrat, to purge voter registration rolls of black people. Long’s family used the speech to stick him in a Mandeville mental hospital. From the … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Jindal won, but only by a bit

T he prevailing wisdom among bloggers, pundits and columnists is that Gov. Bobby Jindal was the big loser from the legislative session that ended last week. Maybe, but the evidence does not fully support that supposition. Compared to the blitzkrieg of last year’s drive to revamp public schools before GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney chose … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: LSU board agreements

It has been an eventful week for the “not like the old days” crowd presently running Louisiana. Apparently, the irony-impaired LSU Board of Supervisors talked about “transparency” and “best business practices,” even as it approved hospital contracts with few financial details and more than 50 blank pages that will obligate my 12-year-old to pay private companies … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Gay marriage a long way off in La.

It was one of those rare emotional debates on the Louisiana House floor by legislators who had experienced the issue themselves, rather than the usual detached discourse of lawmakers advocating on behalf of some special interest. Carrying photos of cute babies, a parade of representatives went to the podium with personal stories of infertile parents finding … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Public input impacts budget alternative

State Rep. Joel Robideaux sometimes leaves his seat on the front row of the Louisiana House chamber to sit in the galleries just to watch legislative proceedings. If you have a sense of how the game is played, politics is really fascinating theater, the Lafayette Republican said last week while watching two powerful committee chairmen verbally … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: A look at the Medicaid expansion numbers

Republican-dominated legislatures in eight of the nine states where GOP governors agreed to take the federal monies to expand Medicaid are balking, according to Politico, the national political website. The latest was Florida, whose Legislature ground to a stalemated end Friday as the Republican-dominated House and Senate refused to go along with GOP Gov. Rick Scott, … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Legislature back to serving the governor

In the windshield wiper world of political commentary, the twilight of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration was widely accepted just a couple weeks ago. True, when backed by big business and clergy, many Louisiana legislators found enough courage to oppose Jindal’s designs on eliminating state income taxes and replacing the lost revenues with increased sales taxes. That … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Civility wins the argument

It is rare when rank-and-file citizens, in this case public school counselors and librarians, force a government body to do an about face. However, that is just what happened last week when Louisiana’s top school board suddenly dropped plans to change the rules that govern both groups. The turnaround followed hours of polite, but impassioned, … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Impact of statistical spin

Houston’s bars close at 2 a.m. Back in the 1990s, when I worked in Houston during the week and drove home to Baton Rouge on weekends, I noticed that come closing time, all the people still at the bar were from Louisiana doing pretty much what I was doing, living between two states. … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Choosing behind closed doors

From the safety of his backyard, my little rat terrier barks himself hoarse at passing joggers, presumably doctors, lawyers and other professionals. But once, when police were chasing a fugitive through the neighborhood, an officer entered the backyard with gun drawn. Scout rolled over and asked the stranger with a gun for a tummy scratch. … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Tax figures questioned

S oon after the administration gave a peek of its plan to revamp Louisiana’s tax system by abolishing income taxes and replacing those revenues with increased sales taxes, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s massive and highly paid staff of press agents was full of advice on how best to report the proposal. For instance, Jindal’s communications director, Kyle … Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Tax revamp dominates conversation

Legislators trying to sort out the state’s proposed $24.7 billion spending plan for next year couldn’t help last week but turn their attention towards the governor’s plan to revamp Louisiana’s tax system. Next door in another Louisiana House hearing room, Gov. Bobby Jindal rolled out his proposal that basically eliminates income taxes and raises sales taxes. … Continue reading →