Politics Column for March 24, 2013

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Joe May speaks during an LCTC conference Thursday.
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Joe May speaks during an LCTC conference Thursday.

Legal services omission queried

State Rep. Julie Stokes asked the Jindal administration Tuesday why legal services were left out of the professional services that would be taxed under the governor’s tax plan.

“I want to understand the rationale,” said Stokes, R-Kenner.

Tim Barfield, executive counsel for the state Department of Revenue, said a lot of heated debate behind the scenes went into that decision.

Ultimately, he said, the decision was made that legal services cross into many different areas of life, including family law, abuse cases and criminal law.

Often, someone hires an attorney because of a crisis, he said.

An attorney is “a necessary evil,” Barfield said.

Huntsman founder praises La. governor

Gov. Bobby Jindal made a favorable impression on Jon M. Huntsman, the founder and executive chairman of the Huntsman Corp., a speciality chemicals company.

Huntsman’s son, former Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Huntsman, who was in Geismar to announce a $78 million expansion at his company’s chemical plant there, joked that he didn’t know if he would vote for his son or for Jindal to be the GOP nominee in 2016.

Huntsman said both his son and Jindal were “men of integrity,” who understood business. The governor wasn’t the only Jindal to get praise from Huntsman. He offered Jindal’s wife, Supriya, who worked as a chemical engineer, a job at the plant.

Rep. misidentified
on TV monitor

State Rep. Lance Harris looked up at the television screen in a committee room Wednesday and noticed he was being identified as state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington.

Harris, R-Alexandria, offered a way to tell the two men apart.

“He’s smarter. I’m better looking,” Harris said.

Blanco: Tax revamp belies real problem

Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the tax revamp is a distraction to the real problem, that is cuts and decisions that Jindal has made that does not create enough revenue to pay for government services.

“This is very disturbing. It is making us forget what the real problem is,” Blanco was quoted in Acadiana newspapers as saying to a Lafayette Press Club forum that featured Republican state Rep. Joel Robideaux, of Lafayette and who as chairman of the House Ways and Means committee will sponsor the legislation that Jindal is pushing.

“Our whole system is a slow meltdown,” Blanco said. “We are going to wake up in a couple years and it will be scorched dirt, and it will be very hard to put back together.”

Meanwhile, former Gov. Edwin Edwards told The Daily Advertiser last week, “It’s a tax plan for the rich at the expense of the poor ... It’s very poor policy, and I certainly hope the Legislature will be wise and courageous enough to recognize that it’s not only bad for the poor, but on balance, it’s bad for the state.”

“It would make us the highest taxed state in the nation from the standpoint of sales tax,” Edwards was quoted as saying.

Emotions flare during comittee meet

Things got testy at a legislative hearing last week when a committee chairman objected to a legislator’s line of questioning.

State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, had a slate of questions concerning the proposed sale of a Baton Rouge office building.

After listening to him ask several questions, state Rep. Gordon Dove told him to wrap it up.

“We’re not going to sit here all day for you to play your games,” said Dove, R-Houma and chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

“I did not know this was Cuba,” Jones shot back.

Dove ended the exchange by calling on a different committee member to ask questions.

Dardenne clarifies stance on pay raises

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne made it clear last week that he has not given merit raises to employees of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism or Office of the Lieutenant Governor during the past two fiscal years.

Other statewide elected officials got an earful from legislators upset over their granting raises in tight budget times. Among them Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Treasurer John Kennedy and Commissioners of Insurance Jim Donelon and of Agriculture Mike Strain.

“We have a very hardworking staff, both classified and unclassified, many of whom are deserving of pay increases,” Dardenne said. “But we try very hard to use the money we are budgeted to return even more revenue back to the state.”

Dardenne’s office said that since his election in 2010 only two pay raises have been given; one was less than 5 percent to Obiekezie Agbasi, a State Parks employee who was given additional duties, and the other to Kristin Sanders, an Office of Cultural Development employee who earned an advanced degree and was assigned additional responsibilities.

Ex-Medicaid official now with PAR

Former state Medicaid director Don Gregory has a new job.

Gregory is now an adviser on health care policy issues with the Public Affairs Research Council.

He replaces former Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary David Hood.

PAR is a non-profit governmental research group.

SU official hosting reception for senator

Southern University Board of Supervisors member Tony Clayton said he is hosting a reception for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Clayton said it will be a chance for farmers and people associated with higher education to talk to her about the issues they are facing.

LCTC head to address BR Press Club

Dr. Joe May, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, will address the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, March 25. May will discuss the major issues facing the system and the upcoming legislative session. Press Club meets on Mondays at De La Ronde Hall, which is located at 320 Third St. in downtown Baton Rouge. 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 the news media are allowed to ask questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program.

Boustany to hold town meeting

U.S. Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, is holding a town hall in Lafayette on Monday, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Clifton Cheniere Center in Lafayette located on 220 W. Willow Street.

Ex-chief to address GOP women’s group

Former Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff is addressing the Republican Women of Baton Rouge on Wednesday.

The meeting begins at 11:30 at Café American, 7521 Jefferson Hwy, Baton Rouge.

RSVP.to dinal@performance-br.com.

Ex-judge to speak on the amnesty issue

“Amnesty and the GOP” will be the topic for former Federal Immigration Judge Carey Holliday when he addresses Thursday’s meeting of the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, 3084 College Drive.

Holliday, who served as an immigration judge on the Miami, Fla. court, has also held the positions of Louisiana assistant attorney general, administrative law judge and workers’ compensation judge. He is currently a special assistant to the director of the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation for court evaluation and review.

Cost for the buffet is $13. Pachyderm meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. RSVP: (225) 644-5728 or e-mail: info@pachydermsofgbr.org For more information, visit the Pachyderms on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PachydermsofGBR

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