Legislative approval of the sale of state-owned property near the State Capitol is on hold.
A joint meeting of the Louisiana House Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the state Senate Natural Resources Committee planned for Friday was cancelled after an appraisal was released showing the property was valued at roughly $2 million less than the Jindal administration had estimated.
Senate Natural Resources Committee Chairman Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, said he was given no reason for the Jindal administration’s request to cancel the meeting.
Michael DiResto, spokesman for the Division of Administration, said an update will be done on an earlier appraisal that gave a higher value for the property, which is the former home of the state Insurance Department.
The meeting agenda also included an update on a sinkhole discovered Aug. 3 in Assumption Parish.
Long said a public meeting on the sinkhole will be held Nov. 28 at the State Capitol.
A Carencro legislator is suggesting that Jindal administration cuts to LSU hospitals have reached the limit to require legislative approval.
“Over the past few weeks I have researched the impacts of the cuts to UMC (University Medical Center) in Lafayette. The cuts will amount to just under 40 percent of the total expenditures from last year. This is against the law,” state Rep. Stephen Ortego wrote in an email newsletter to constituents.
Cuts beyond 35 percent in a given year require legislative approval, Ortego said, citing a state law.
“I assure you that I will continue to do all that is possible using the law to reverse the injustices on our community,” he said.
Ortego said the instability is impacting the medical education program as well as implementation of the Coordinated School Health and Wellness pilot program in Lafayette Parish.
State Rep. James Armes, D-Leesville, was busy buying donkeys while a legislative committee upheaval unfolded in Baton Rouge.
Two of Armes’ colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee lost their seats after criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposals.
Armes said he missed a number of phone calls, including one from the governor’s chief of staff, while he was selecting donkeys to keep the coyotes and other wildlife away from his chickens.
The buying trip culminated with one of the donkeys kicking Armes.
“I got kicked in the durned leg. I could have stayed in Baton Rouge and got kicked in the leg,” he said.
State Rep. Karen St. Germain was one of the few Democrats in the House who did not back a push for legislators to call themselves into session.
St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, said she has too many concerns at home to spend two weeks at the State Capitol reviewing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent state budget cuts.
A 449-foot-deep sinkhole is in St. Germain’s district. She said her husband also recently had surgery.
“If (the session) had enough votes to get it, I would definitely participate in it. But I wouldn’t be honest to my people if I (voluntarily) left,” St. Germain said.
The Republican Party of Louisiana last week presented the “Red Elephant” award to Louisiana Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, for leadership in the 2012 legislative session.
“During his first legislative session as Speaker, Chuck faced enormous obstacles and controversy, but he never wavered,” said Republican Party State Chairman Roger Villere Jr., in a prepared statement.
Republicans cited Kleckley for his work getting legislators to approve Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of public schools, overcoming oppositions of teachers, bureaucrats and liberals. The GOP noted that efforts to recall Kleckley failed.
In accepting the award, Kleckley promised to work hard in the upcoming legislative session to enact a revamp in the state’s tax system.
Former legislator Joe Toomy ended an 18-year stint as a member of the Judicial Compensation Commission last week.
Toomy has served as one of the Louisiana House speakers’ appointees since creation of the commission in 1995 and as its chairman since 2007. He did not seek reappointment.
The commission elected state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, as its new chairman.
In parting comments, Toomy said the commission worked to “de-politicize the judicial salary-setting process and established a reasonable, rational and intelligent basis for setting fair and adequate judicial salaries.”
Toomy noted that Louisiana judges received 10 pay raises during the past 18 years as a result of commission recommendations, which the Legislature accepted.
“Yet despite these increases, the salaries of Louisiana judges remain below the southern average,” he said.
John Bennett, who is a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was honored in Washington, D.C., last month.
Bennett received the Distinguished Principal Award from the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
He is one of three Catholic principals and 60 nationwide to get the award.
Bennett, who is the principal of St. Aloysius School, is one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s three appointees to BESE, which sets policies for public school students statewide.
He lives in Port Allen.
The NAESP, which was founded in 1921, serves elementary and middle school principals nationwide.
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler will be the guest speaker for Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Schedler will discuss voter turnout and trends as well as how to properly prepare for Tuesday’s election.
The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall in downtown Baton Rouge, 320 Third St. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.
The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and members of the news media are allowed to ask questions.
Compiled by The Advocate Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is email@example.com
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved