Legislative panel heads to retreat
Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and his legislative committee chairmen will pow-wow this week in the fishing village of Venice on Louisiana’s Gulf coast.
“This is a working session,” said Kleckley, who organized the gathering. “It’s consistent with what other speakers have done in the past.”
Kleckley said he wants to spend some time talking about the last legislative session and “what the next three years is going to look like.”
On the agenda will be health care, education, how committee oversight can be more effective and ways to solve the state’s fiscal problems, said Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.
Kleckley said he wanted to hold the session away from the State Capitol where other such sessions have been held.
Activities begin Tuesday afternoon and end Thursday morning, Kleckley said. “It’s going to be an all day Wednesday thing,” Kleckley said.
Legislators will get their regular $149 per diem expense to cover food and lodging.
Commissioner dodges $17,500 fine
Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon dodged a $17,500 fine last week for being late filing his personal financial disclosure report this year.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics went along with its staff recommendation to suspend all but $1,000 of the fine, based on future compliance.
That means if Donelon is late again he’ll have to pay the remaining $16,500.
The report is due annually on or before May 15.
The law provides that required filers have 14 days after receipt of a notice of delinquency to file the disclosure statement or contest the allegation of failure to file.
Donelon received a notice of delinquency June 8, making the report due on or before June 28.
Donelon attorney James Burland told the ethics agency that Donelon did not get the delinquency notice until he returned to work Aug. 3 after major surgery.
Burland said Donelon was in the hospital for five days beginning July 9, then spent three weeks at home recuperating.
“Mr. Donelon receives on average one certified letter per day that is handled procedurally by his staff without him being aware of its arrival, and so it was brought to his attention upon its arrival on June 8,” Burland wrote.
“The certified letter ... was put in Mr. Donelon’s reading file, and was not discovered until the day he returned to work.”
“His return to work on Friday, August 3, resulted in his discovery of your letter and he immediately prepared and submitted his report that same day,” Burland wrote.
Burland also noted Donelon’s history of full compliance with the law since he was first elected in 2006, and that the filing was “basically identical to his previous timely filings.”
Jindal in presidential debate spin room
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent foray into the presidential debate spin room might not be his last.
“(The) Romney campaign asked him to be in the spin room at all of the debates that fit his schedule. Must be his good looks and charm,” the governor’s political advisor, Timmy Teepell, said.
Jindal flew to New York last week for the debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
Afterward, the governor was one of several dozen people assigned by the Romney campaign to critique the debate to reporters in the “spin room.”
While away from Louisiana, the governor also squeezed in a campaign fundraiser. Jindal is prohibited from seeking a third consecutive term. He could sit out for a term and run again.
“He is still young. I can’t imagine he’s run his last campaign for governor,” Teepell said.
Mese pleads for leniency on fine
Baton Rouge mayoral candidate Gordon P. Mese must pay a $600 fine for failure to timely file a couple of campaign finance reports, the state Ethics Board decided last week.
Mese had faced a $2,000 fine. But the board decided to suspend $1,400 of it after Mese — the owner of a small nursery —appeared to plead his case.
Mese said the $2,000 fine is the entire budget of his campaign.
“I plead ignorance and plead for mercy,” Mese said. He said he was not aware that he had to file reports prior to officially signing up to run.
3rd Congressional District forum set
The Press Club of Baton Rouge will host a debate featuring U.S. 3rd Congressional District candidates on Monday.
Candidates U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia; Bryan Barrilleaux, R-Lake Charles; and Jim Stark, Libertarian-Lake Charles, will participate.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, and lawyer Ron Richard, D-Lake Charles, were invited but had previous engagements.
The five are vying in the Nov. 6 election for a seat representing most of southwest Louisiana that includes Lake Charles and Lafayette.
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.
GOP candidates forum scheduled
The Republican Women of Baker/Zachary is sponsoring a “Meet the Candidates Forum” at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
The public is invited to meet Republican candidates vying for Congress, Louisiana State Supreme Court, 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, Public Service Commission and East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president.
Following the forum, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, will address the public on emphasis of the new health care law.
Randy Olson, chief executive officer of Lane Regional Medical Center will address local health care issues. The public will be given a chance to ask questions regarding health care initiatives.
The forum will be at Fellowship Church, 1555 E. Mount Pleasant Rd., Zachary. Doors open at 6 p.m.
For more information, contact the Republican Woman of Baker/Zachary President Jeanette Boggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on Facebook @ Republican Women of Baker/Zachary.
League sponsors mayoral forum
League of Women Voters of Baton Rouge is sponsoring a mayoral forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Doors open at 5:30 to the Louisiana Board Room at the Baton Rouge Community College. All four candidates for East Baton Rouge Parish mayor president — incumbent Kip Holden, Gordon Mese, Steve Myers and Mike Walker — have accepted. The moderator will be Jean Armstrong, president of the League of Women Voters of Baton Rouge. The panelists are Tasha Clark Amar, Jim Engster and Morgan Searles.
Questions for the candidates are encouraged and must be submitted by e-mail. Write “Questions for Mayoral candidates” on the subject line and send to email@example.com on or before 5 p.m. Monday.
No questions will be accepted from the audience. All questions will be reviewed to ensure nonpartisan relevance to the community by a League of Women Voters of Baton Rouge committee before the forum.
Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email is