Tenure law appeal goes before Supreme Court

The Jindal administration’s appeal of a lower court decision that his signature 2012 teacher tenure law is unconstitutional goes before the Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday.

Oral arguments in the case will be streamed online via the Supreme Court’s website.

Go to www.lasc.org and click the “Oral Arguments” link on the right side of the page. The session begins at 9:30 a.m.

The arguments are in a case filed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers challenging the way the tenure provision became law. The LFT said Jindal included too many objects in one bill, and state District Judge Michael Caldwell agreed that violated the Louisiana Constitution.

Known as Act 1, the law amended and re-enacted nine statutes and enacted two new ones. Besides changing tenure, the law altered the way school boards contract with superintendents as well as the general powers of school boards, among other things.

Jindal to headline Iowa event with Ted Cruz

Gov. Bobby Jindal will join U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, in headlining the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Fall Family Banquet on Sept. 27.

The event, which will be held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, also will feature Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Steve King.

“We are thrilled that Senator Cruz and Governor Jindal are coming to Iowa to have a dialogue with Iowans about the serious challenges that our nation is facing under the current administration,” coalition President Steve Scheffler said in a news release announcing the event’s speakers. “This event will be the launching pad for our voter mobilization and get-out-the-vote efforts in the fall. We look forward to Cruz and Jindal sharing their views on how to build a better America and Iowa with new leadership at both the federal and state levels.”

Jindal, who is eyeing a run for president in 2016, was in Iowa this month and worked the Iowa Republican Party booth at the state fair. The September trip will be his fourth trip to Iowa in a year.

Next weekend, he will be heading to New Hampshire for more fundraisers.

Democrats to discuss BR emergency care

The now-aborted plan to close the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City is sparking some attention from Democratic legislators.

Gov. Bobby Jindal promised an $18 million infusion of cash to stop the hospital’s red ink caused by growing numbers of uninsured patients. Hospital executives announced the ER would stay open.

Now, the head of the state Democratic Party and some local legislators have scheduled a 10 a.m. Tuesday news conference “to discuss the status of emergency care in Baton Rouge and highlight policies to protect Louisiana’s hospitals.”

The news conference will be at Brent’s Pharmacy, 243 N. Acadian Thruway, in Baton Rouge.

Participants will include state Sen. Karen Peterson, of New Orleans, state Sen. Sharon Weston-Broome and state Reps. Ted James, Alfred Williams and Pat Smith, all Baton Rouge Democrats.

All are supporters of Medicaid expansion, which Jindal has rejected, and have noted how it would help relieve the financial strain of uninsured patients.

The hospital’s board had voted Monday night to close the emergency room, citing losses of $1 million a month related to uninsured patients, expected to rise to $20 million next year.

Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City and Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary have complained about increased uninsured patients since the closure of LSU’s Earl K. Long Medical Center and its mental health emergency room extension. The two hospitals are in closest proximity to Earl K. Long, which closed in April 2013.

Dardenne to address Press Club Sept. 8

There will be no Press Club of Baton Rouge meeting Monday because of the Labor Day holiday.

When it meets again Sept. 8, the guest speaker will be Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. He is scheduled to discuss tourism and Louisiana’s future.

The Press Club meets at noon Mondays in the Iberville Room of the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. 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.

Graves subpoenaed by election opponent

Congressional candidate Garret Graves was served a subpoena last week prior to a campaign forum in Central.

Opponent Cassie Felder is demanding that Graves answer questions under oath later this month about his hiring of The Political Firm.

Graves had nothing to say on the record. But his lawyer, J.R. Whaley, said, “This subpoena is recreational litigation by a political campaign trying to stay relevant.”

He said Graves would ask the court to modify or quash the subpoena.

Felder and Graves, both Baton Rouge Republicans, are among the 13 candidates running to replace U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy in representing the district that stretches from south Baton Rouge into the far west New Orleans suburbs and south to parts of Thibodaux and Houma.

Felder contracted in September 2013 with Scott Hobbs and Jason Hebert, of The Political Firm, to handle her campaign. In March 2014, Hobbs terminated the contract and about two weeks later was contacted by Graves. They signed on with the Graves campaign.

Felder sought, but was denied, an injunction to keep the political strategists from working for her opponent in the campaign for the Nov. 4 election. But the underlying breach of contract lawsuit continues. She appealed the refusal of the injunction.

Hobbs brought up the timeline during testimony and Felder has a right to explore what Graves knew and when it he knew it, said Matt Beeson, a spokesman for Felder’s campaign.

Hobbs and Hebert had no comment.

State Police retirement board to address law

The Louisiana State Police Retirement System board is expecting a big turnout for its Thursday meeting, when it will discuss a newly passed law giving enhanced pension benefits to State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson.

The board has moved its special meeting to the larger public hearing room used by the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana at 8401 United Plaza Blvd.

The first action item on the agenda is adoption of rules regarding public comment. That comes in advance of a discussion of Act 859 of the 2014 regular session. That’s the act that included a last-minute — never discussed — provision that would boost Edmonson’s and another veteran trooper’s retirement benefits.

The system’s counsel, who have already said the way the retirement provision was passed is unconstitutional, will be there.

Edmonson has said he won’t accept the benefit.

Civil Service launches mobile version of site

State Civil Service has launched a mobile version of its website that will allow job candidates quicker access to job seeker resources and job openings.

In addition, the mobile website will allow the public quicker access to key information regarding the state’s Civil Service System.

“People are increasingly using mobile devices to access the Internet, and SCS’s mobile website will enable more users to quickly access information regarding current job announcements and publications regarding the state’s workforce, which enhances the ability to promote accountability and help improve government performance,” said Civil Service director Shannon Templet.

She said the mobile site will benefit job seekers, current employees and taxpayers.

The mobile version of SCS’s website is automatically opened by visiting the same URL as SCS’s regular website, www.civilservice.la.gov, via a mobile device.

2 Jindal aides get promotions, raises

Two aides to Gov. Bobby Jindal will get pay raises that go with their new jobs.

Stafford Palmieri, assistant chief of staff, will be paid $110,000 per year, up from $90,000 in her previous job as policy director.

Natalie LaBorde, who will be policy director, will be paid $90,000 annually, according to the Governor’s Office.

LaBorde was paid $70,000 while serving as senior policy adviser for Jindal.

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