Budget cuts hurting
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley said Thursday that the state’s financial problems are affecting his family.
Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said funding cutbacks to public colleges are prolonging his youngest daughter’s education.
He said his daughter will have to stay at McNeese State University an extra year to get her civil engineering degree because of canceled classes.
“(It’s) not to the liking of her mother or I,” Kleckley said, jokingly adding that his daughter probably is thrilled.
Attempt to tie bill
to ex-sponsor killed
State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans, caused a little stir as the Louisiana House debated legislation last week that would require random drug testing of 20 percent of the state’s welfare recipients.
Arnold proposed an amendment that would make the legislation “The LaBruzzo Act,” named after former state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-New Orleans, who sponsored similar bills in the past.
The first to object was state Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, who beat LaBruzzo for re-election after the two were pitted against each other because of redistricting. Lorusso asked whether the change was germane to the bill.
“It may be distasteful to you, but it is germane,” ruled House Speaker Pro-tem Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans.
The sponsor of the drug-testing bill, state Rep. Sherman Mack, R-Albany, threw in his objection too. “This bill has nothing to do with John LaBruzzo,” Mack said.
LaBruzzo had traveled to the State Capitol to support Mack’s bill when it was heard in a Louisiana House committee.
Arnold pushed his case anyway, reminding House colleagues that LaBruzzo’s efforts had failed in the Senate in prior years. “The only way to kill it is to pass it to the Senate with LaBruzzo’s name on it,” he concluded.
The House rejected the idea with 27 members voting yes and 62 voting no.
Speaker says Vitter
not delaying budget
Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, dismissed suggestions Thursday that U.S. Sen. David Vitter is complicating the budget process.
Vitter, R-La., has been congratulating some Republicans in the Louisiana House for rejecting the governor’s bid to use one-time money in the budget to pay recurring expenses.
One-time money is funding that likely only will materialize once.
Kleckley, who advocates using the money to prevent deep budget cuts, said House members are too intelligent to be intimidated or manipulated by Vitter.
State Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro and the state budget sponsor, declined to give his opinion on Vitter’s interest in state government politics.
“I don’t have anything to say. I’ve been working on the budget,” Fannin said.
House might adopt
State Rep. Neil Abramson wants to add to the Louisiana House rules, provisions for censure or discipline of nonmembers if they attempt “to compel, coerce or intimidate” a legislator in efforts to influence their conduct.
Abramson, D-New Orleans, complained during hearing that he was approached in a threatening way by Jimmy Faircloth, the former executive counsel for Gov. Bobby Jindal and now representing some of the state’s largest private landowners in the legacy lawsuit legislative debate. He then was named in a widely publicized complaint to the state Ethics Board on allegations of conflict of interest. A lawyer when not at the State Capitol, Abramson, who sponsored one of the lead bills addressing legacy lawsuits, defends corporations on legacy lawsuits. Abramson counters that lawmakers from a particular profession routinely are called upon to handle legislation, noting that during this session legislators are considering measures that affect pharmacies and are being sponsored by senators who also are pharmacists.
House Resolution 46, which would set up procedures for potential censure or discipline, is on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee agenda Tuesday.
Violations could result in the offender being barred from appearing before the House or its committees for a period of time or that the offender is publicly censured.
Board of Ethics picks
new top officers
The Louisiana Board of Ethics has new top officers.
The board elected Lafayette lawyer Blake Monrose as its chairman to replace Baton Rouge lawyer Frank Simoneaux, who was not reappointed.
New Orleans lawyer Scott Schneider steps in as vice chairman, a post Monrose held.
La. Medicaid director retiring and replaced
Louisiana Medicaid director Don Gregory is retiring and his chief deputy Ruth Kennedy is stepping into the job, overseeing the government’s health insurance program for the poor.
State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein announced the changes.
Gregory has worked in various jobs in the Medicaid program over the past 36 years. He retires effective June 21. He has been Medicaid director since 2010.
Kennedy is a veteran DHH employee who has been “No. 2” in the Medicaid program and also serves as project director of Bayou Health, the state’s new private insurance company-based health-care delivery system for the poor.
Kennedy’s annual pay will be $111,600.
La. native retiring
from Ore. Legislature
Joanne Verger, an Amite native who is retiring from the political scene in Oregon after three decades, completed her final session in the Oregon Legislature, according to a news release last week.
Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said in a prepared statement: “There’s more to Joanne than a Legislative record. She has always conducted herself with class and dignity. We will miss her style.”
Verger, D-Coos Bay, was a state senator whose district covered relatively small communities along the Oregon coast where residents depend on tourism, fishing, shipping and other coastal professions. She graduated Amite High School and studied speech pathology at LSU. Verger and her husband, Lawton, moved to Oregon in 1969 and operated a car dealership.
Verger was the first woman mayor of Coos Bay, Ore., a position she filled for four terms. She was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives and to the Oregon State Senate in 2004, where she served on that state’s Joint Ways and Means Committee.
7 House Democrats
Seven members of the Louisiana House have won Democratic Party balloting for election as delegates to the party’s national convention, where President Barack Obama will be nominated for re-election.
Among those elected delegates to the Sept. 3-6 convention in Charlotte, N.C., were state Reps. Regina Barrow, Patricia Haynes Smith and Alfred Williams, all of Baton Rouge; Randal L. Gaines, of LaPlace; Barbara Norton and Patrick Williams, both of Shreveport; and Katrina R. Jackson, of Monroe.
They are among the 42 state delegates elected in congressional district balloting.
Others elected from the Baton Rouge-based 6th Congressional District were Cassandra Butler, Gideon T. Carter III, Sherman Ruth and W.T. Winfield.
State inspector slated
to address Press Club
State Inspector General Stephen Street Jr. will address the Press Club at noon Monday.
Street will discuss his office, the only state law enforcement agency with a primary focus of rooting out fraud and corruption in state government. He also will talk about House Bill 1, which enacts the state budget for the fiscal year and would remove funding for the Inspector General’s Office.
The Press Club meets on Mondays at the De La Ronde Hall in downtown Baton Rouge 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 during the question-and-answer portion of the program.
LPB program topic:
More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s population is female but only 11 percent of the state’s legislators are women. In fact, the number actually decreased after the 2011 elections. What gets left out of the deliberative process when nearly all of the lawmakers are men?
Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s monthly award-winning public affairs program Louisiana Public Square discusses “Louisiana’s Legislature: Where Are the Women?” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on LPB HD with an encore showing at 11 a.m. May 27
Up to 20 average residents recruited by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab at the Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs will have a chance to give their opinions on the topic and question a panel of experts. The panelists will include state Reps. Patricia Haynes Smith, D-Baton Rouge, and Simone Champagne, R-Jeanerette, and state Sens. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Keithville, and Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans.
Shauna Sanford, co-anchorwoman of “Louisiana: The State We’re In,” will be the guest moderator. Special assistance for the program was provided by the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus.
BR mayor pro-tem
GOP group speaker
Baton Rouge Mayor Pro-tem Mike Walker will be the featured speaker at Thursday’s meeting of the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge. The 6:30 p.m. meeting will be at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, 3084 College Drive.
Walker, who recently announced that he will seek the office of Baton Rouge mayor in the fall, is serving his third term on the Metro Council.
Cost for the buffet is $13, drink, tax, gratuity and ice cream included. Pachyderm meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. RSVP: (225) 644-5728 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is email@example.com.