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Political Horizons: As cuts loom, other issues lose traction at Capitol

Advocate Staff Photo by Travis Spradling. Benjamin Clapper, left, executive director of Louisiana Right To Life, holds Wednesday a paper with illustrations of a dilation and evacuation abortion on a 23-week-old fetus, while testifying in favor of legislation that would ban abortions after 22 weeks gestational age, with some exceptions. State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, right, R-West Monroe, handled Senate Bill 766 for its sponsor, Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego. The House Health and Welfare committee advanced the Senate-passed SB766 to the full House.

Senate Judiciary B Committee is where socially conservative legislation goes to die, if proponents of those issues are to be believed. Take the example of Benjamin Clapper. The executive director of the Metairie-based Louisiana Right to Life advocacy group is not one for histrionics. But last week, Clapper claimed that supporters of a House-passed measure… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Undeterred, political novice returns to Legislature for milk debate

At the end of last year’s legislative session, Sierra Majors was a little depressed when she returned to her St. Landry Parish farm along the Atchafalaya River. A 30-something farmer, she had arrived wide-eyed in Baton Rouge pretty sure that her passion for nutrient-dense, farm-to-table goodness of milk straight from conscientiously raised cows would alert legislators… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: One eve of session, revenue anxieties setting the mood

Usually, the days before the annual session of the Louisiana Legislature have the expectant atmosphere of spring break in Destin, Florida. Any other year, the common sight around the State Capitol is of laughing legislators carrying boxes from their luxury SUVs to their apartments in the historic Pentagon barracks. This time, however, the mood is more… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Might be a silver lining to Louisiana’s budget mess, Bobby Jindal’s ‘benign neglect’

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, raises a question Thursday during the House Health and Welfare Committee's discussion of House Bill 375 in April 2013.

In line at the Louisiana House Dining Hall last week, State Capitol staffers said they’ve never seen so many bills filed on how to deal with a budget crisis. Traditionally, leadership on fiscal issues is left to whoever is governor, allowing legislators time to focus on banning “droopy drawers” and creating “I’m a Cajun” driver’s licenses.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Poll shows residents see waste in state spending

An LSU poll released last week confirmed for Louisiana legislators what they knew all along: They’re going to lose no matter what happens with the state budget. A majority of Louisiana adult residents think the state’s $1.6 billion deficit could be fixed if only state government would give up its profligate ways, according to the 2015 Louisiana… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Need cash now? La. looks at selling tobacco settlement

Please forgive putting that catchy “877-CASH-NOW” jingle in mind, but the Jindal administration is basically singing that the multibillion-dollar structured settlement with Big Tobacco is their money and they need cash now. Nobody pays dollar-for-dollar on these transactions that turn settlements paid out over years into immediate cash. But Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols… Continue reading →

Mysterious tax exemptions need to be addressed

Hidden in the state’s fine print is your right to buy a beer at a professional sporting event without paying state sales taxes. That same tax-free status applies to Mardi Gras beads, gold coins costing more than $1,000, human-tissue transplants, breast pumps for feeding babies, funeral hearses, Girl Scout Cookies, something called polyroll tubing (it’s used for… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Passenger train between Baton Rouge and New Orleans still possible, but far off

So, sitting in traffic, inching past the only part of Interstate 10 from Santa Monica, California, to Jacksonville, Florida, that narrows to a single lane, allows plenty of time for daydreaming. Will there ever be passenger railroad service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans? Actually, there’s a plan. Every morning at 7 a.m., a passenger… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: State GOP includes two philosophical camps

Last week’s tweet-a-rama — the one anointing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as the chosen one in a GOP presidential primary that hasn’t officially started — triggered a series of national reports about the re-emergence of a wing of the Republican Party that is more moderate than the one that represents unwavering, evangelical social conservatism. Calling them… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Talk of Bobby Jindal trimming health care budget a little quiet, but cuts possibly devastating

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks to a crowd, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Maybe it’s the difference in the images: fresh faces brimming with promise versus weary looks of the stress of an all-too-realistic present. Most of the conversation has focused on the Jindal administration’s plans to cut higher education. Talks about hacking a similar amount from health care budgets have received little attention, even though the cuts will… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Football and politics: Our favorite time of year

Louisiana is entering the seasons of its two favorite contact sports: football and politics. Usually the two cross paths only before the games when politicians visit tailgates to sample grilled sausages and toss a few footballs in a signature tradition that is every bit as expected as candidates eating hot dogs and kissing babies when visiting New… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Watergate leaves a polarized nation

Friday marked the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation, one of those landmark days in American history. A lot of the run-up to the anniversary revolved around pundits pontificating on how much more politically polarized the nation has become since Nixon ducked impeachment proceedings for covering up the dirty tricks his aides played against his opponents.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Governor takes stab at ‘transformative’ motivation

“Transformative” is the vogue descriptor among the political set these days. From the old church Latin noun of action associated with communion, “transformative” picked up its current accepted definition — a new work that alters and supersedes the original — in a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court opinion on copyright infringement. A review of old clips… Continue reading →