Politics Column for Sunday, June 30, 2013

capitol news bureau

 Patrice Pujol
Patrice Pujol

Pujol to lead superintendents

Patrice Pujol, superintendent of the Ascension Parish school system, is the new president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.

Pujol succeeds Michael Faulk, who is superintendent of the Central Community School District.

The group represents superintendents statewide.

Pujol will serve as spokeswoman for the organization on a wide range of public school issues.

Legislative override session not likely

Forms went into the mail Friday for legislators to decide whether they want to reconsider the governor’s vetoes.

This year, the governor vetoed bills dealing with surrogate births, the New Orleans convention center and a Livingston Parish development. He also removed funding that would have reduced a waiting list for home-base services aiding the developmentally disabled.

The forms ask the state’s 144 legislators to declare a veto override session unnecessary. A majority of the members of either chamber must return the forms by midnight on July 11 to prevent a veto override session from automatically convening.

Brenda Hodge, spokeswoman for the state Senate, said the veto session would begin on July 16.

Any veto override attempt is considered a political longshot.

Plotkin expands duties for governor

The governor’s communications director is taking on additional duties.

Kyle Plotkin now is Gov. Bobby Jindal’s assistant chief of staff. He will oversee boards and commissions as well as the governor’s schedule. Plotkin kept his title of communications director.

The governor’s previous assistant chief of staff was Tammy Woods.

Jindal’s spokesman, Sean Lansing, said Woods made $102,000 while Plotkin will make $110,000. Lansing said Woods now is with the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency.

Aide rebuffs a Jindal run for U.S. Senate

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s political adviser offered a terse response Thursday to resurging buzz about Jindal jumping into the U.S. Senate race.

“No interest. At all.” Curt Anderson told National Journal. He is partner in OnMessage Inc., the political strategists Jindal uses, and co-author of Jindal’s autobiography.

The talk, which is growing louder and louder, is not new.

Speculation has ebbed and flowed for years about Jindal possibly opposing U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014.

The governor’s term ends in 2016 and he cannot run for a consecutive third term. Chances of him running for the White House seem to have dimmed amid sinking approval ratings in Louisiana.

His entry into the U.S. Senate race could reflect a lack of party confidence in U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. Cassidy, R-La., already declared his intent to try to unseat Landrieu, D-La.

Women legislators trending downward

The number of women serving in the Louisiana Legislature is falling.

Statistics from the Center for American Women and Politics, or CAWP, at Rutgers University show 11.8 percent of legislators are women. In 2011, 16 percent were women.

The state has no woman as a statewide elected executive. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is the state’s sole female member of Congress.

CAWP also looked at the state’s history of appointing or electing women as statewide executives.

In 1930, Alice Lee Grosjean briefly became secretary of state.

Grosjean rose to power after serving as Huey P. Long’s secretary.

“I can trust her more completely than any man in Louisiana,” Long was quoted as saying in the “Spartanburg Herald-Journal.”

Grosjean attributed her success to an ability for keeping Long’s papers straight.

‘Energy efficiency’ program advances

State regulators last week suspended their opposition to establishing an “energy efficiency” program statewide, at least for a little while, when Commissioner Scott Angelle changed his vote, and with a 3-2 tally the state Public Service Commission agreed to look further at the possibilities.

The five elected PSC commissioners voted 3-2 in December to allow utility companies to collect a small fee to pay for setting up the program that would provide rebates to consumers who buy appliances and install renovations that make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. After Angelle joined the panel, the PSC voted again in February and that 3-2 tally opposed.

Angelle asked for more time and last week, on a 3-2 vote, the PSC agreed.

PSC Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III, of New Orleans and supporter of energy efficiency, said he understood because Angelle, who joined the PSC in January, had a lot of catching up to do on the issue.

PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell, of Bossier Parish and the other supporter, offered: “I don’t mind giving you another month to ask all the questions you want and get the answers, because it might actually make it stronger bill where you can support it and we’ll have three votes. Today, we lose.”

Supporters in the audience at the hearing applauded.

SU’s Odums to speak at BR Press Club

Dawson Odums, head football coach at Southern University, will speak at the Baton Rouge Press Club on July 1. Odums will discuss the upcoming season and what fans can expect as he tries to bring the program back to its glory days.

On July 8, Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League, will be the speaker.

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.

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