Jindal mentions Mich. supporters
Speaking to the American Federation of Children on Thursday in New Jersey, Gov. Bobby Jindal singled out a wealthy Michigan couple as worthy of praise for their support of his education package.
Jindal characterized Dick and Betsy DeVos as steadfast supporters of expanding school-choice programs in states all over the country.
“I’m proud to count them as my personal friends. I’m proud to count them as leaders for educational reform for our entire country,” he said.
The American Federation’s board of directors is chaired by Betsy DeVos, whose father founded the Prince Corp., an automobile parts supplier in Michigan. Her husband, Dick DeVos, is the son of one of the founders of Amway Corp.
The DeVos family has donated about $16,000 to Jindal’s political campaigns, according to disclosures with the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
Groups using other names that are affiliated with or share the same address as the American Federation gave about $86,000 to candidates for the Louisiana Legislature during the previous election cycle, and about $250,000 to Believe in Louisiana, a group that has bought radio advertising praising Jindal and his policies, according to state and federal disclosures.
Jindal successfully pushed legislation this year to expand the number of public school children who will be able to attend private schools in Louisiana at the state’s cost.
The governor hit on several topics during his 30-minute, high-profile speech. He talked about being the son of immigrants, told stories about his young children and bragged about being re-elected by the largest margin in modern Louisiana history, as well as dealing out stinging criticism of those who opposed his package.
others’ life events
State Rep. Jeff Arnold made note of two special events occurring over the weekend involving members of the Louisiana House.
Arnold wished fellow New Orleans state Rep. Helena Moreno well on her approaching Saturday wedding to Christopher Meeks.
“In addition, Rep. (Andy) Anders is going to be getting a raise. His third and final daughter is getting married,” Arnold said.
Anders is a state representative from Vidalia.
Tax rebates eyed
as off-limits topic
State Rep. Ted James brought attention last week to the number of tax rebates that the Jindal administration is pushing during a time that the state is plagued with financial problems.
James proposed “closing a loophole” in the state constitution that allows the rebates to be considered when other tax breaks are constitutionally prohibited from being considered.
James wanted to add rebates to the list of off-limits items in other than odd-numbered years. The list includes tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, reductions, repeals or credits.
The Baton Rouge legislator wanted to add the provision to a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to expand business property tax exemptions.
“I understand what Rep. James is trying to do,” said state Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette and sponsor of the property tax measure. But, he said, “It’s something we need to debate separately.”
House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger ruled that James’ amendment was not germane to the property tax measure.
James did not press his case further but as he left the microphone said “We need to seriously take a look at this.”
During an appearance before the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge last week, state Superintendent of Education John White, former deputy superintendent of the New York City school system, said he pulls for the New York Yankees.
White also roots for Duke University’s basketball team, although he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, an Atlantic Coast Conference competitor.
He declined to say whom he backs in college football.
“That’s not happening at this table,” White said, prompting laughter.
But asked to elaborate two days later, he said, “Go Tigers, Go Tigers, Go Tigers.”
Vitter chides Jindal in lawsuit reform
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., forwarded to his supporters Friday an article from Legal Newsline, a Chicago newswire owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. The group contends Louisiana’s judicial system is unfair to businesses, therefore state law should be changed to make it more difficult for injured parties to file and litigate lawsuits.
Vitter described himself in his news release as having “harshly criticized (Gov. Bobby) Jindal for not providing leadership in the high-stakes legacy lawsuit issue.”
Generally, Senate Bill 760, by state Sen. Bret Allain II, R-Franklin, is considered the measure supported by landowners seeking the cleanup of environmental damage caused years ago when energy companies extracted oil and natural gas from their property.
Landowners claim the lawsuits are necessary to push industry to clean the environmental damage.
House Bill 618, sponsored state Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, is thought of as the oil company’s solution to make “legacy lawsuits” more predictable and less likely. The industry argues that the lawsuits open the door to court judgments that cost additional millions for damages not directly related to the actual cleanup of the property, and that stifle job-producing energy exploration.
The Legal Newsline article quotes Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, criticizing state Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, for failing to assign HB618 to a committee for a hearing. The oil industry prefers that the bill be heard in the Senate Judiciary A committee, which handles civil law and procedures, rather than the Senate Natural Resources committee, which advanced SB760.
Also, on Friday, Lisa Rickard, the president of U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, released her letter to Alario and state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa and chair of Judiciary A, asking that Senate Bill 443, the companion to HB618, be heard on May 8.
State Democratic leadership elected
Louisiana’s Democratic State Central Committee has elected a full slate of officers to lead party political activities going into fall elections and beyond.
Joining party chairwoman state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, of New Orleans, in top leadership positions are: Shane Riddle, of Breaux Bridge, a Louisiana Education Association executive as first vice chairman; Arlanda Williams, of Houma, chair of the Terrebonne Parish council, second vice chairwoman; state Rep. Wesley Bishop, of New Orleans, as third vice chairman; and Brett Jackson, of Baton Rouge, president of the Young Democrats of Louisiana, as fourth vice chairman.
Others elected include state Rep. Randal Gaines, of LaPlace, as chairman of elected officials; Sean Bruno, of New Orleans, as treasurer; Mozella Bell, of Campti, as secretary; Peter Jenkins, of Thibodaux, as clerk; and Carlo Hernandez, of Mandeville, as parliamentarian.
Deborah Langhoff, of New Orleans, won election as Louisiana’s Democratic national committee woman; Orleans Parish Criminal Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell, national committeeman; and political consultant Ben Jeffers, of Baton Rouge, committeeman at-large.
Brandt honored for government study
Former Public Affairs Research Council President Jim Brandt has been honored for his long-time service in governmental research.
Brandt, who retired as PAR’s president at the end of 2010, was awarded the Frederick P. Gruenberg Award by the Governmental Research Association at the organization’s annual conference in New Orleans.
Brandt began his public policy career in New Orleans City Hall in 1970, during former Mayor Moon Landrieu’s administration.
From there, he moved to the Institute for Governmental Studies at Loyola University, serving as assistant director and senior associate.
He also was a leading planner of the New Orleans World’s Fair.
House Speaker Leger
to address Press Club
House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger will address the Press Club of Baton Rouge at noon Monday.
Leger, D-New Orleans, will discuss the 2012 Coastal Master Plan and related hurricane protection and restoration issues, as well as other topics of legislative debate in the 2012 session.
The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall downtown at 320 Third St. 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 members of the news media are allowed to ask questions.
hosts fall candidates
The Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish is holding a luncheon Tuesday to spotlight GOP candidates in the parish’s fall elections.
Candidates for mayor-president, Metro Council, 1st Circuit Court of Appeal and Louisiana Supreme Court are expected to attend the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Café Americain, 7521 Jefferson Hwy.
There is no charge for admission but attendees are asked to order food and a beverage from the restaurant. Attendance is open to registered Republicans, guests and the media.
To reserve space, call Richie Edmonds at (225) 892-6000.
State GOP chairman to speak at library
Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere will speak to the Capital City Republican Women on Thursday.
Other speakers will be City Court judges Laura P. Davis and Suzan Ponder.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Bluebonnet Regional Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compiled by The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Contact email is email@example.com.