Legislators’ salaries detailed

The chairmen of the Louisiana Legislature’s money committees topped their colleagues in compensation last fiscal year.

New audit reports show that state Rep. Jim Fannin, House Appropriations Committee chairman, made the most at $65,848, followed by state Sen. Jack Donahue, Senate Finance Committee chairman, at $61,527.

Fannin, R-Jonesboro, and Donahue, R-Mandeville, benefit from $28,000 in extra salary they get as chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, get a higher base salary as a result of their leadership positions, giving third and fourth place respectively in compensation rankings for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Kleckley’s compensation totaled $60,201, while Alario’s stood at $57,221.

The audit report showed that most other legislators’ salaries ranged from $33,000 to $35,000. The amount includes base pay of $16,800, a $6,000 unvouchered expense allowance and per diem.

Leger’s Common Core joke taken wrong way

Want to hear a joke about Common Core?

Don’t look to state Rep. Walt Leger III for one. He’s learned his lesson.

Across Louisiana, the national academic standards called Common Core are controversial. Some legislators and parents are fuming about the tougher classroom rules and want to end the state’s participation. Others insist harder standards are a good thing.

Leger, D-New Orleans, joked at a New Orleans breakfast meeting last week that legislators might just change the standards’ name and call it a day. He said the name change would fool everyone into thinking the Legislature actually took action.

A day later, after his phone lines and social media account lit up, Leger wants everyone to know he was kidding. He has no plans to pull any political fast moves.

“People have been calling me off the hook,” he said. “I was joking.”

Leger tried to make amends through his Twitter account. Before the sun rose on the morning of Valentine’s Day, he tweeted that “parental input on curriculum, privacy protection, resources for implementation” will be important issues in the debate.

Candidate seeks name change

Stephen Paul Dietzel II, who is running for the 6th Congressional District seat in the Nov. 4 election, went to court to change his name.

He’s dropping his first name, Stephen, because of the problems that crop up in officialdom when people go by their middle names. His automobile insurance, for instance, was cancel ed when the company mixed up his policy and that of his father, who has the same name, Dietzel said last week.

“I’ve always been known as Paul Dietzel,” he said. So, the younger Dietzel filed for a name change in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.

He and his father are named after the famous football coach whose LSU team won the national championship in 1958.

Dietzel is running as a Republican in the district that curls from Baton Rouge, through Livingston Parish and down to parts of Terrebonne Parish.

The other Republicans in the race are Bob Bell, a Baton Rouge lawyer; state Sen. Dan Claitor, of Baton Rouge; Cassie Felder, a Baton Rouge tax lawyer; and Charles “Trey” Thomas, a Baton Rouge educator. LaPlace real estate broker Richard Dean Lieberman is a Democrat who announced for the race.

UL system president takes on national roles

University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley recently took on two national higher education leadership roles.

Woodley has been named Louisiana’s representative on the Council of State Representatives for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, or AASCU. Founded in 1961, AASCU is a higher education association of 420 public colleges, universities and systems that advocates for effective higher education public policy. In her role, Woodley will be responsible for helping to shape a public policy agenda to the association.

In her other role, Woodley has been elected to the board of directors of the National Association of System Heads, or NASH, the association of the chief executives of the 52 colleges and university systems in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Formed in 1979, NASH seeks to improve the organization and governance of public higher education systems.

State budget adviser to retire after 39 years

Longtime state budget adviser Ray Stockstill plans to retire after more than 39 years with state government.

As deputy commissioner for the Division of Administration, Stockstill helps Gov. Bobby Jindal craft the state spending plan each year. He frequently jumps in to the discussion at legislative hearings to clarify questions about arcane budget details. His last day is Feb. 24.

Replacing Stockstill will be Ruth Johnson, who returned to the Jindal administration after leaving her job as secretary of the state Department of Children and Family Services to work in South Carolina.

Johnson will get a $10,000 pay bump, bringing her to Stockstill’s $180,000 salary level.

Wintry weather affects panels’ meetings

While Baton Rouge dodged the latest round of winter weather, problems in north Louisiana affected two panels.

The Special Education Advisory Panel had to reschedule its meeting, which was scheduled for Feb. 11, because some members had problems getting to the State Capitol.

The Superintendents’ Advisory Panel met for more than two hours on Thursday but did not take any official action because it was unable to get a quorum.

Political strategist to speak at summit

Democratic political strategist and analyst Donna Brazile will be the keynote speaker for the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus’ One Voice Leadership Summit in Baton Rouge.

The Thursday through Saturday events, including a town hall meeting, will be held at Baton Rouge Community College’s Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion Theatre.

Caucus chairwoman state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said the Baton Rouge meetings are a continuation of a caucus-sponsored statewide tour.

To register for the summit: www.evenbrite.com/e/2013-louisiana-leadership-summit-registration-9683097405.

Political events

MONDAY, 11:45 A.M.: Jim Donelon, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Insurance, will speak at the Press Club of Baton Rouge about the need for tort reform to bring down the cost of insurance for businesses and individuals alike in Louisiana. Press Club meets in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, which is located at 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 during the question-and-answer portion of the program.

TuesDAY, 6:15 P.m.: State Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, will address the Pelican State Pachyderm Club on the possibility of a East Jeff-West Jeff Hospital merger. The event begins at 6:15 p.m. at Parran’s Po-Boy, 3939 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. The cost is $25 per member and $35 per guest. RSVP to miltonatebara@aol.com.

thursDAY, 11:30 A.M.: Laura Cassidy will be the speaker for the Ascension GOP Roundtable on Thursday at Brew-Bacher ’s Grill, 909 E. Ascension St., Gonzales. Currently, Cassidy serves as the president of the board of the Louisiana Key Academy, a charter school for dyslexic students. She also works with the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, which advocates for students with dyslexia. The cost for the meal is $14. Reservations available at ARWrUS@aol.com.

THURSDAY, 11:45 A.M.: Leaders With Vision Monthly Policy Forum will discuss “A Sustainable Water policy for Louisiana” at Drusilla Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge. Panelists are: Russel Honoré, Green Army; Eugene H. Owen, chairman of the board for Baton Rouge Water Co.; Charles Groat, president and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf; Henry T. Graham Jr. of the Louisiana Chemical Association; Tony Duplechin, director of Capital Area Ground Water Conservation District; and Hays Town Jr., founder of B.R. Citizens to Save Our Water. Luncheon costs $22 for members and $27 for nonmembers. email LWVision@LWVision.org.

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