Politics Column for Jan. 20, 2013

 Karl Rove
Karl Rove

capitol news bureau

Tax exclusions report to be late

A commission formed to study the state’s tax exclusions will be a little late in filing a final report.

The Revenue Study Commission’s chairman, state Rep. Joel Robideaux, said Thursday that he will not make the Feb. 1 deadline. Instead, he said, he is aiming for early March.

The commission examined the hundreds of exemptions that drain the state’s tax revenue. Gov. Bobby Jindal defeated some of the group’s purpose by announcing a proposal to eliminate the state’s personal income and corporate taxes.

“I do think it was a good exercise,” Robideaux, R-Lafayette, said.

State Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, said he got an education on exemptions that date back to Huey Long’s era.

“It was eye opening,” he said. “I learned a lot of things about 1934 that I didn’t know before.”

Roemer watches son sworn in

More than a quarter of a century ago, then-gubernatorial candidate Buddy Roemer promised to brick up the top three floors of the Department of Education, a reference to the growing number of employees in the agency.

But last week, Roemer was in the building that houses the education department to watch his son Chas take the oath of office to become president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I’m glad you did not bring your bricks today, Dad,” Chas Roemer quipped during the ceremony.

The former governor delivered the invocation before Chas Roemer and two other BESE members were sworn in as officers.

Fiscal office analyzes impact

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate state personal income and corporate taxes could add to the workload within the Legislative Fiscal Office.

The office analyzes the fiscal impact of legislation. Jindal’s proposal would erase nearly $3 billion in revenue.

“They’ve got to be sharpening their pencils over in the fiscal office,” former state Rep. Vic Stelly, of Lake Charles, quipped last week.

Rove speaks at annual meeting

At the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s annual meeting, political strategist Karl Rove painted a verbal picture of “ABC News” correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

Rove, who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush, described Stephanopoulos as a tiny man with tiny hands and a penchant for expensive footwear.

Stephanopoulos was an aide to President Bill Clinton.

Legal adviser responds to Twitter

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry accepted questions via Twitter on Tuesday during a panel discussion involving the state revenue department’s executive counsel, Tim Barfield.

Barfield does not have the title of the agency’s secretary because his salary exceeds the allowable pay for that job. Instead, the secretary role is vacant and Barfield is in the job of the agency’s key legal adviser.

One of the questions submitted through Twitter delved into what it is like for Barfield to advise himself.

“No comment,” Barfield said.

Donahue lectures education leaders

Last month, leaders of the state Department of Education got a stern lecture from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue.

Donahue said staffers for the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, which Donahue chairs, told him the department’s response for a detailed presentation of its operations was “woefully inadequate” and would be rescheduled.

But Donahue praised the agency’s work after Beth Scioneaux, deputy superintendent of management and finance, made a 221-page presentation of department operations that took more than two hours, including committee member questions and comments.

“It is one of the most complete reports we have ever received,” he said at the end of the meeting.

Senate to review ethics board vacancy

The Louisiana Senate will return to the State Capitol for a one-day session Jan. 31 to decide who will fill a vacancy on the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

Senate assistant secretary Yolanda Dixon said senators will get a state fiscal briefing during the special 1:30 p.m. administrative meeting.

The House elects its appointees to the Ethics Board by mail ballot when the Legislature is not in session. But the Senate requires an in-person vote.

One of the Senate’s two Ethics Board appointees quit, Renee Austin Duffin of Baton Rouge. The Senate received a list of seven nominees from the state’s private college presidents from which, by law, they must choose.

The nominees include former state Rep. Emile “Peppi” Bruneau, of New Orleans; former state Sen. Sydney Nelson, of Shreveport; former Louisiana Association of Educators executive Lawrence Narcisse, of Baton Rouge; former state health agency legislative liaison Patricia Faxon, of Baton Rouge; attorney Ben Miller, of Baton Rouge; minister Martha M. Orphe, of St. Martinville; and retired military Lincoln Joseph Savoie, of Sunset.

Donelon required
to pay $1,000 late fee

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon did not get any relief from the Louisiana Board of Ethics as he sought to change the terms of his fine for late filing of his personal financial disclosure report.

Donelon had been exposed to a $17,500 late fee. The board decided earlier to suspend all but $1,000 of the fine based on his future compliance with reporting requirements.

That meant if he messed up in the future, Donelon would have to pay the remaining $16,500. And the law requires personal — not campaign — funds to be used in making payment.

Donelon’s representative James Burland said it’s an “undue burden should he in the future have a problem with filing.”

Burland suggested the board set a time certain to end the potential exposure or lower the amount suspended.

Board Vice Chairman Scott Schneider, of New Orleans, said the board has never set a time limit on a candidate’s exposure for a subsequent violation.

The board denied any change in the terms of the punishment.

Beebe selected as superintendent

From 1992 to 2012, BESE had a district superintendent on its panel, Walter Lee, of Mansfield.

Lee, who is still on the board, retired from his job as superintendent last year.

Now Lottie Beebe, of Breaux Bridge, another BESE member, is about to become a superintendent.

Beebe was selected to head the St. Martin Parish school system effective July 1.

Republican Women to host annual dinner

Republican Women of Central’s annual Membership Meeting and Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Monday.

Guest speakers will be the newly elected State Supreme Court Judge Jefferson Davis Hughes III, re-elected First Circuit Court of Appeal Judge J. Michael McDonald and Judge Charlene Charlet Day, of the Family Court in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The membership dinner is being held at Sammy’s Grill in Central, 14800 Wax Road.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Cost to attend the dinner meeting is $15 per person.

Reservations are encouraged by email to rwcla@yahoo.com.

Republican Women to induct ’13 officers

Retired Col. Phil St. Amant is slated to address the Republican Women of Baton Rouge on Wednesday.

New 2013 officers will be introduced.

The luncheon meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. at Cafe’American Restaurant, 7521 Jefferson Highway, in Baton Rouge.

For reservations email Dina Leon at dinal@performance-br.com.

Press Club to observe MLK Jr. Day Monday

The Baton Rouge Press Club will not meet Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Press Club will meet again Jan. 28.

Pro Bono awards
to be presented

The national Legal Services Corporation Board of Directors will present its Pro Bono Service Award to five Louisiana lawyers and a Lafayette law firm from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Great Hall of the Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal St.

Speakers at the event will include American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service Chair Larry McDevitt, Louisiana Bar Foundation President Patricia A. Krebs, Louisiana Bar Association President John H. Musser IV, Adams & Reese LLP Senior Partner E. Paige Sensenbrenner, LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi and other LSC Board members.

The recipients of the Pro Bono Service Award are Mark Surprenant, a Liaison Partner of the Pro Bono Services Committee at Adams & Reese LLP; Laborde & Neuner, a Lafayette firm; retired Judge Melvin A. Shortess; Robert Owsley, of the firm of Murchison and Murchison LLC; Winfield E. Little Jr., a Lake Charles sole practitioner; and Anu Kakonen, retired from the UAW Legal Services Plan.

Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email is cnb@theadvocate.com.