Breaux to return to La. in support of Medicaid measure

Former Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Breaux will travel to Baton Rouge this week to plug Medicaid expansion.

Breaux said he will testify Wednesday when state Sen. Ben Nevers brings up legislation that would let Louisiana voters decide the issue.

“I wanted to do it,” said Breaux, who is now senior counsel with Patton Boggs, a Washington, D.C., law and lobbying firm. “I strongly favor Medicaid expansion.”

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected changing the requirements so more Louisiana residents can qualify for the government health care coverage as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act. In Louisiana, the expansion would cover some 240,000 uninsured, mainly working adults.

“A number of Republican governors have accepted and designed a plan that meets the needs of their state and made it adaptable to their state,” Breaux said.

Breaux said it makes no sense to turn down a 100 percent federally funded program. The federal government pays all the costs for the first three years, then less each year thereafter but never less than 90 percent. Jindal argues that even at those rates, the increase on Medicaid rolls will cost Louisiana taxpayers too much.

“It’s not about whether you love Obama or hate Obama,” said Breaux. “It’s about coverage for people who don’t have health care.”

Breaux served in Congress from 1972 to 2005, first elected to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House following the resignation of Edwin Edwards. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to his retirement in 2005. Breaux was considered a centrist and moderate Democrat who worked well with Republicans.

Nevers is proposing an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution that, with voter approval, would provide for Medicaid expansion. To get to a vote of Louisiana voters, two-thirds of the Legislature first would have to approve the legislation, a tough climb in a majority Republican state House and Senate.

Panel endorses sweet dough pie resolution

State Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, asked a Louisiana House committee to endorse a resolution declaring Grand Coteau as the Sweet Dough Pie Capital of the state.

One problem: She didn’t have any samples as she made her pitch and committee members jokingly reminded her of the omission.

The panel approved the resolution anyway after Thierry pledged “to have some pies for you when the bill is presented on the (House) floor.”

The legislation is scheduled to be heard Monday.

Program aid approval triggers debate

A $1 million contract for Teach for America sparked some heated words on Tuesday at the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The spending, as it often does, triggered arguments between Teach for America backers, who view the program as an invaluable resource for public schools, versus those who believe the money could be better spent on in-state programs.

The motion, which included aid for several other programs, won narrow approval.

The vote was 6-3 with two recusals, the minimum needed for final approval.

BESE President Chas Roemer lashed out at the opponents and the possibility that TFA-inspired “no” votes could have derailed other noncontroversial agreements.

“I am appalled by the ‘no’ votes,” said Roemer, who did not single out specific opponents. “You didn’t know what you were doing.”

The “no” votes were cast by Jane Smith, of Bossier City; Lottie Beebe, of Breaux Bridge; and Caroline Hill, of Baton Rouge.

Later in the meeting, Smith, a former state House member, said the panel needs to show professional courtesy.

Jindal to address Va. college grads

Gov. Bobby Jindal was named Thursday as the keynote speaker at Liberty University’s 2014 commencement ceremony.

“Many believe he could hold the highest office in the land someday,” said Liberty University President Jerry Falwell in prepared statement. “I believe he will be an inspiration to our graduates, not only because of his life’s story, but because he shares many of the conservative and Christian values that Liberty University graduates hold dear.”

Liberty was founded in 1971 by Falwell’s late father, the televangelist and political commentator of the same name. The Lynchburg, Va., college calls itself the largest private Christian university in the world. It has 350 programs and claims more than 100,000 residential and online students.

Jindal’s May 10 speech will begin at 10 a.m. in Williams Stadium on the 7,000-acre campus near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Senators take jabs at each other on floor

It got a little tense on the state Senate floor last week.

State Sen. Elbert Guillory, a black Opelousas Republican, stepped to the microphone to complain. “There has been a slur cast upon my honor,” said Guillory.

Guillory recounted that a fellow senator had complained “to the world that my perspective is identical to that of white men.”

“Under many circumstances, that could be a compliment. In this case, it was a slur and meant to be a slur,” Guillory said of the committee hearing comment.

Guillory said he represents all people. “You, my dear, are not old enough, nor yet wise enough to understand me or to judge my blackness,” he told state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb.

That brought a response from Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge.

“I had a conversation last week on public education in Louisiana, specifically in Baton Rouge,” said Dorsey-Colomb, adding it was “sometimes ugly.”

“That committee was loaded with Republicans and he was of like-mind. Any statement was not racial,” she said. “I had righteous indignation that day.”

Lt. Gov. wins Lifetime Achievement Award

The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence presented Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dardenne received the award for his commitment to fighting on behalf of victims of domestic violence in Louisiana.

As a state senator, Dardenne sponsored legislation to empower victims and deter crime. He has also chaired the Coordinating Council on Domestic Violence and, as secretary of state, implemented the Address Confidentiality Program, ensuring voting rights for domestic violence survivors while continuing to protect their identities. He also created a central registry for collecting information regarding restraining orders and injunctions related to domestic violence, and increased penalties on perpetrators of domestic abuse.

As lieutenant governor, he appeared in domestic violence public service announcements encouraging men to prevent abuse and take a stand against violence. In September, he donned high heels to participate in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes race hosted by the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center in Baton Rouge to promote awareness of domestic violence.

Cokie Roberts keynote for Tulane ceremony

Cokie Roberts, a political analyst for ABC News and National Public Radio, will be the keynote speaker for the second annual Tulane Law School Hall of Fame induction ceremony Friday. Seven Tulanians will be honored, the university said.

Eric Lane to speak at Press Club meeting

Eric Lane, president of Gerry Lane Enterprises, will be the speaker for Monday’s meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Lane will speak about the recent GM vehicle recalls, their effect on local business and what customers need to do in response to the recalls.

The Press Club meets in the Iberville Room at 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 news media can questions.

Political analyst to address Pachyderms

Political analyst and consultant John Couvillon will be the featured speaker at Thursday’s Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge meeting.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Jing Du Chinese & Sushi Buffet, 3132 College Drive in Baton Rouge.

Couvillon’s firm, JMC Enterprises of Louisiana, provides strategic consulting services to candidates and issue advocacy groups, including public opinion polling, voter targeting and redistricting. He has worked with clients in 19 states. Couvillon will offer insights about the upcoming fall elections.

Cost for the buffet is $14. Meetings are open to the public, and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. RSVP: (225) 644-5728 or email

Compiled by Capitol news bureau