Politics Column for Sunday, May 26, 2013

GOP head bristles at query for info

State Republican Party executive director Jason Doré complained last week that the party was being targeted for retribution over its lobby effort against a proposed tax increase.

Prompting Doré’s outrage: a letter from the Legislative Auditor’s Office seeking financial statements of the party going back three years. He likened it to the IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups.

But, the same letter went to the Louisiana Democratic Party.

It turns out a question posed by Republican state Rep. Nick Lorusso of New Orleans prompted the auditor’s inquiry.

Lorusso said the law requiring the filing of annual reports with the auditor was brought to his attention.

“I sent an email and asked has the Republican State Central Committee filed a report? They told me ‘no’,” he said. “I didn’t ask for an audit.

“It was curiosity more than anything else,” said Lorusso. “There’s no mass conspiracy or anything else behind it.”

Asked about Lorusso’s involvement, Doré said “there’s no secret that there are some state representatives upset about our very public lobby effort against the $1.3 billion tax increase proposed in the House.”

Lorusso said he wasn’t one of those representatives. “I agreed with the Louisiana GOP in its opposition to the plan,” he said.

Condition: Must have La. registration

Gov. Bobby Jindal will sign into law legislation that hits close to home for the chief executive, according to press secretary Sean Lansing .

The Louisiana Senate gave final legislative passage last week to the measure that would require unclassified employees — mainly political appointees — making $100,000 or more to register their motor vehicles in Louisiana. The registration would be a condition of employment.

The legislation was promoted by state Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite. Edwards, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said he was upset seeing a parade of Jindal administration appointees parking their vehicles with out-of-state license plates around the Louisiana State Capitol.

State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, asked for Senate support saying that people are being brought in from out-of-state for high paying jobs and the attitude is “I work for the executive branch and I don’t have to do it.”

State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, called the legislation “a political poke in the eye and a waste of our time.”

Chairman pledges debate on all bills

State Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said he has made special arrangements to ensure that all House-passed bills are debated in his committee by Thursday, one week before adjournment.

Appel said he has gotten clearance from Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, to meet after the Senate’s afternoon session, if needed to finish a committee meeting that starts before the floor gathering.

“All House bills will be done by Thursday evening,” Appel said.

Several controversial measures are awaiting action, including a bill that would delay the major impact of new teacher evaluations.

Barfield will serve as Revenue secretary

Tim Barfield got a few questions about his current and future job status with the state Department of Revenue.

Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed Barfield as Revenue’s executive counsel when Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges resigned. Now, Jindal’s appointing Barfield, a former Shaw Group executive, as Revenue secretary.

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, asked Barfield why he was not named secretary originally.

“Initially, it was my salary requirement,” said Barfield, who could be paid more as executive counsel - a new position - than what Bridges made as secretary. Then, Barfield added he was given the task of focusing on the “tax reform initiative.”

“Couldn’t you have done that as secretary?” Murray asked.

“I’m sure I could, but I could also lead it as executive counsel,” Barfield said. “I think you could take either fork in the road.”

Budget adjustments have been made in the new fiscal year for Barfield to make $250,000 as Revenue secretary, Barfield said.

Press Club will not meet Memorial Day

The Baton Rouge Press Club will not meet Monday in honor of Memorial Day.

The Press Club will meet again on June 3.

Meetings are Mondays at De La Ronde Hall 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 or the news media are allowed to ask questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program.

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