Politics Column for Sept. 29, 2013

Perry, Cortez to attend legislative conference

State Sens. Jonathan “JP” Perry, R-Kaplan, and Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, will participate in the 2013 National Conference of State Legislatures Symposium for Emerging Leaders program.

The program is Oct. 28-30 at the Tiger Woods Conference Center on the NIKE campus in Beaverton, Ore.

Participants must be nominated by leadership to attend. Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, nominated Perry and Cortez.

NCSL is a bipartisan organizaton that serves legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on state issues.

DiResto leaves Jindal post to head BRAC

Michael DiResto recently left his post as spokesman for the Division of Administration, which is a key part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

DiResto is now senior vice president for economic competitiveness at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and he released a statement last week that indirectly challenged Jindal’s stance on tougher public classroom standards.

The governor has said he is concerned that the new rules could saddle public school classrooms with a “federalized curriculum.”

Not so, DiResto said in the BRAC commentary.

He wrote that criticism the new rigor represents a federal curriculum is “a misplaced concern, as Common Core is neither a curriculum nor a federally developed or proposed set of standards.”

Regents, LCTCS tensions tighten

Members of the state Board of Regents took a few shots at the Louisiana Community and Technical College System this week. The Regents oversee all of public higher education in the state. Several Regents board members have criticized the LCTCS, which oversees the state’s two-year schools, for going rogue and working independently of the state’s four-year schools.

Some of the tension between the two entities spilled over during two days of Regents board meetings when board member Bill Fenstermaker, of Lafayette, expressed surprise to see LCTCS President Joe May in attendance given the bad blood between the two groups. Fenstermaker then proceeded to tell May he doesn’t agree with or appreciate May’s political maneuverings.

The next day, Regent Joel Dupre, of New Orleans, criticized LCTCS for being the only one of the state’s four public college and university systems not to send a board member to the Regents meeting. The four systems each typically have someone at the Regents meetings to represent their interests.

Moments later, Regents Chairman W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry gave a lengthy speech criticizing what he believes is a pattern of self-promotion coming from LCTCS. Rasberry reminded the people in the room that LCTCS is not the only system in the state that can take credit for workforce development.

“I would point out that every welder needs an engineer to make the design you’re going to weld on,” Rasberry said. “There is a need for all four of our systems to move forward collectively.

Sen. Brown proposes private retirement plan

State Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, wants to help private-sector employees save for their retirement years.

Brown is proposing a state law establishing the framework to develop “a simple, cost-effective system of tax-qualified retirement savings accounts for private-sector employees.”

The idea is to provide employees whose employers do not offer retirement benefits a way to pool their voluntary payroll deductions through a statutorially established framework. The retirement savings would be invested as a pool in low-risk investments.

“This is a win-win proposition for both employees and employers,” Brown said as he announced the initiative.

“Employees who now have few options to save for retirement would have a viable, secure way to make sure they are self-sufficient after they leave the workforce. And, employers, especially small-business owners who cannot now afford to offer retirement benefits, would be able to attract and retain valued employees with a simple, cost-effective way to provide for those employees’ retirement future.”

Details of the legislation have not yet been worked out. Brown said he plans to meet with business and employer groups in the coming months to develop the best approach.

Rozeman is chairman of Blueprint Louisiana

Dr. Phillip Rozeman last week was named chairman of Blueprint Louisiana, and Clay Allen was tapped as the group’s secretary and treasurer.

Established in 2006, Blueprint Louisiana is a group of businessmen and professionals that advocates positions on state government policies.

Rozeman, of Shreveport, is a practicing cardiologist and founder of Cardiovascular Consultants. He succeeds outgoing Chairman Jimmy Maurin, of Covington. Allen is the managing partner of the Lafayette-based law firm Allen & Gooch and a managing director of the investment banking firm Westlake Securities.

Southern system head to speak at Press Club

Southern University System president Ronald Mason will be the speaker for Monday’s lunch meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Mason will discuss transforming the Southern University System from “good” to a model 21st century system of higher learning.

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.

Advocates host events in School Pushout

This week Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, a local parent organization known as FFLIC, together with the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Safe Streets Strong Communities, or SSSC, and Community Education Project of New Orleans are hosting several events as part of Dignity in Schools Campaign National Week of Action on School Pushout.

The 4th Annual National Week of Action on School Pushout to raise awareness about exclusionary processes and push for states and school districts to implement positive discipline policies that improve the learning environment and keep students in school.

Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana will host a dialogue 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday: African American Educators and the school-to-prison pipeline.

FFLIC and Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana will participate 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday as community resources after lecture and book signing, “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander. FFLIC will provide resources on the school to prison pipeline, the DSC model code and solutions to suspensions. JJPL will distribute information from the Suspensions Matter series, which details the over-reliance on out of school suspensions in New Orleans.

Edwards 1st speaker in Southern series

State Rep. John Bel Edwards will kick off Southern University’s College of Social Behavioral Sciences “Speaker Series on the State of Louisiana.”

The Democrat from Amite will discuss mental health, unemployment, higher education funding and the closing of local hospitals.

The public is invited to attend this free event to be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the lobby of Southern’s Higgins Hall.

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