Lawmakers keep their eyes on the ball

The Southeastern Louisiana University Lions were flirting with history on Friday when state Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, whose district includes the school, went to the House podium.

SLU led LSU 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning of the NCAA Baton Rouge regional when Broadwater began explaining the $3.6 billion school aid plan, called the Minimum Foundation Program.

Broadwater’s wife is a SLU graduate. The lawmaker is a graduate of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

“My house is five houses west of home plate,” he said of Southeastern’s ballpark. “So we are big Lions fans.”

But just as Broadwater started explaining the bill, things started unraveling for his team.

A cheer went up in the House chamber, where the game was available on TVs.

“I commented that I hoped that was Southeastern scoring,” he said.

“They said no, 4-4, which made me incredibly sad.”

LSU rallied and won 8-4.

“I am incredibly proud of the game Southeastern played,” Broadwater said.

Broadwater, who was subbing for House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, guided the school aid plan through its last hurdle.

The House approved it 95-2.

Senator vows to get more women elected

After a heated debate over equal pay legislation, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson had a declaration to make on the Senate floor Friday.

“I just wanted to let you know, if you come by my desk, I’m setting up a foundation to elect more women senators next year,” a visibly frustrated Peterson said. “Let me know if y’all want to be involved.”

The equal pay debate had ended with the Senate voting 28-10 in favor of a business-backed bill that restates existing federal law, after legislators failed to act earlier this session on stricter legislation backed by women’s groups.

There are 18 women in the Louisiana Legislature — four in the Senate and 14 in the House. About 12.5 percent of legislators are women, and according to Rutger’s Center for American Women and Politics, that makes Louisiana’s statehouse the most skewed toward men.

Prior to the last election cycle, there were 25 women. But the Legislature has only ever reached 17.4 percent.

‘Gwen’s Law’ to help abuse victims

State Rep. Roy Burrell, of Shreveport, mused about the convergence of events that resulted in “Gwen’s Law.”

Gwen’s Law is named after Gwen Salley, who was shot and killed by her estranged husband, Michael, who then turned the gun on himself. The law puts in place new court hurdles aimed at stopping those who have been arrested in serious domestic abuse-related incidents from being let out on bail. That’s what happened in Gwen Salley’s case.

The incident occurred May 2 with the legislative session’s end a month away.

Gwen Salley’s attorney, Gary Evans, started looking for a way to pass a law to fix the legal system that had failed his client. Evans said she would have wanted it approved, and soon, to help others.

Burrell happened to have the legislative vehicle that ended up being transformed into Evans’ draft proposal.

Burrell said others had filed legislation similar to his original bill, but something told him to hang on to the bill instead of having it withdrawn from consideration. It became Gwen’s Law and quickly moved toward legislative passage.

Gwen Salley’s father, Bennie Cox, attended what was supposed to be a mock bill signing for the cameras.

No sooner than Gov. Bobby Jindal said the official enrolled documents had not reached his desk yet, than an aide walked in. The document had just arrived.

Cox said his daughter was looking down smiling.

Retiring bishops group leader gets recognition

Danny Loar, who is retiring as executive director of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, was recognized with a resolution on Wednesday in the Louisiana House.

Loar, who has held the job since 2002, served as chief lobbyist for the state’s Roman Catholic Church and its bishops.

The resolution, which passed the Senate earlier, cites his advocacy on a wide range of education issues, his annual legislative luncheons and his help with initiating regular Masses at St. Joseph’s Cathedral for lawmakers during the session.

Loar plans to teach sixth-grade religion and seventh-grade American history at St. Theresa Middle School in Gonzales.

Southern dean to speak at Press Club

Donald Andrews, dean of the College of Business at Southern University, will be the speaker for Monday’s meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Andrews will talk about the college’s success in forming international and domestic partnerships and promoting economic development and entrepreneurship.

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 the news media are allowed to ask questions.