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Political Horizons: Japan tries to figure out Louisiana voters

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Takashi Oshima, a correspondent for The Asahi Shimbun, is one of several Japanese reporters covering Louisiana's U.S. Senate and House races. He is photographing Cassie Felder, one of the Republican candidates running for the 6th Congressional District seat, while she makes campaign phone calls Wednesday from her Baton Rouge office.

One of Buddy Roemer’s stories is about visiting with Japanese business leaders back when he was governor in the late 1980s. A businessman interrupted the governor’s spiel on the wonders of Sportsman’s Paradise to say, very sorry, never heard of Louisiana. That may have changed. Japanese reporters have descended on Louisiana to cover this… 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 →

Political Horizons: Gay marriage issue shapes campaign trail

This past week — the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ordering the federal government to recognize same sex marriages — challenges to individual states restricting gay marriage bobbed up in Louisiana and across the country. In New Orleans federal district court on Wednesday, J. Dalton Courson, a New Orleans lawyer, argued that Louisiana’s constitutional… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Death penalty bill: Justice, swift and true?

Lopinto

Trite phrases, like law-making as sausage-making, aside, there’s no disputing the impact of last-minute finagling on efforts to restart Louisiana’s capital punishment system, which has freed almost three times as many condemned killers as the state has executed this century. It started when Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation that was near and dear to state… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Bobbycare being considered

Louisiana Democrats have finished with trying to force a Republican governor, who hums “Hail to the Chief,” to accept billions of federal dollars to provide health care for the state’s uninsured working poor. Largely along party lines, the House Health and Welfare Committee voted 12-4 Wednesday against a Medicaid expansion proposal by state Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Legislature driving solo

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote speech at the Liberty University commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va., Saturday, May 10, 2014. (AP Photo/News & Daily Advance, Parker Michels-Boyce)

Fifty workdays have passed since the Louisiana Legislature convened March 10 and Gov. Bobby Jindal has spent 16 of them — roughly one-third — on the road. While Louisiana lawmakers have wrung their hands over the budget and payday loans, Jindal has visited New Hampshire, Chicago, Nashville, Mobile, Dallas, Washington, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, and… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Budget leaves some elderly struggling

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, speaks to members of various Council on Aging agencies from throughout the state on Wednesday at the Louisiana State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge.

Because the guards are under strict orders not to let any unauthorized vehicles pass the barricades that protect the parking spots of legislators and lobbyists, busloads of elderly men and women unloaded blocks away from the Louisiana State Capitol last week. The parade of grandmas and grandpas, many breathing with nasal cannulas and walking with rollators, schlepped… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Honoré wants public involved on environment

Advocate staff file photo by Arthur D. Lauck -- Russel Honore in a 2011 photo.

A glaring of lobbyists, a handful of legislators and a couple of reporters gathered to gossip in the halls of the State Capitol late Wednesday night. They were taking a break after hours of public testimony that relentlessly opposed a legislative effort to revamp East Baton Rouge Parish schools. Had the House committee voted at the… Continue reading →

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 →

Mark Ballard’s “Political Horizons”: Jindal budget tactics raising eyebrows

Critics of the Jindal administration say the governor’s $25 billion proposal to pay the bills next year includes a good bit of “money laundering.” “In Zachary, where I grew up, we would call this bull****,” State Treasurer John N. Kennedy, said of the accounting gimmicks the administration used this year and over the past few.… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Levee board lawsuit still under fire

Oil field pit in foreground, cleaner water in the Cameron Parish marsh area in the background. A bill that would require previous oil operators to clean up and restore coastal wetlands in the same as if they had polluted the groundwater.  It also would require that any canal cut through a wetland, or enlargement of an existing canal, would only be permitted if DNR finds there is no significant impact to the environment. Sure to be controversial. Two Senate bills filed to do this. We will be shown a mess left by an operator that is an example of the problem. (Advocate staff photo by Bill Feig. Photo shot on 5/3/05.)       Keyword Hazardous Material, Environment, Law, State, Court

Once again, the Louisiana Legislature will spend much time during the coming months trying to control, if not eliminate, lawsuits that seek compensation for damage caused years ago by the oil and gas industry. Some legislators want to change the laws that allowed the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East to file a lawsuit last July… Continue reading →

Political Horizons: Pending execution renews questions about capital punishment

Amber McGuire, left, recounts the execution of her father, Dennis McGuire, as her sister-in-law Missie McGuire cries at a news conference Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Dayton, Ohio, where they announced a planned lawsuit against the state over the unusually slow execution. McGuire's lawyers had attempted last week to block his execution, arguing that the untried method could lead to a medical phenomenon known as air hunger and could cause him to suffer

In the 15 or so years that have passed since regularly covering death row news in Texas, I’ve been able to dodge the uneasy questions about the role of the death penalty in civilized society. But that hiatus is likely to end this week. Prosecutors and capital punishment lawyers give the state a better than even… Continue reading →