Baton Rouge

Friday, February 24, 2017

Budget fight is all politics

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 6:51 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards (left) and state Attorney General Jeff Landry tussled over budget cuts in the special session, but Landry's motivation is more political than economic.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards (left) and state Attorney General Jeff Landry tussled over budget cuts in the special session, but Landry's motivation is more political than economic.


On the surface, the special legislative session that ended last week resembled a small step in the right direction. Gov. John Bel Edwards and recalcitrant ideologues in the House of Representatives hammered out a budget deal to cover a $304 million hole in the current fiscal year's budget — without any last-minute votes on hastily cobbled compromises.

Beneath the surface, however, the partisan divide is as wide and as deep as ever between Edwards and leading House Republicans, with the GOP-controlled Senate generally in the governor's corner.

If you think fiscal policy drives Louisiana's budget discussions, think again. It's all politics.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Special election for Troy Brown's vacated Senate seat set for April 29

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:23 PM

Louisiana Senate President John Alario.
  • Louisiana Senate President John Alario.
Since Troy Brown stepped down last week as state Senator from District 2 (covering parts of several parishes south of Baton Rouge), the seat is empty heading into the regular legislative session that begins in April. Today Louisiana Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, called a special election to fill the District 2 seat.

Qualifying will be held March 15-17, and the election will be April 29. Should a runoff be needed, it will be held May 27.

In the year and a half before his resignation, Brown, D-Napoleonville, pleaded no contest to charges involving physical abuse of his wife and another woman described as a "side friend" during two separate incidents. Until last week, Brown had vowed to stay in office, despite competing resolutions in the Senate calling for his expulsion and suspension.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

State Sen. Troy Brown resigns; Senate was set to vote on expulsion Monday

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 4:05 PM

State Sen. Troy Brown, announcing his resignation this afternoon.
  • State Sen. Troy Brown, announcing his resignation this afternoon.
State Sen. Troy Brown, under fire from colleagues and constituents over two misdemeanor charges of domestic violence, abruptly resigned his office this afternoon — four days before the full Senate was set to vote on his expulsion or suspension.

"It is readily apparent to me that a fair and impartial hearing before my peers will never transpire," Brown said, adding that the Senate "tore down the very fabric of our government" by holding expulsion hearings based on misdemeanor charges.

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Editorial: Troy Brown must go

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 9:48 AM

State Sen. Troy Brown and his attorney, Jill Craft, appeared before the Louisiana Senate’s Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion Feb. 15. - MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • State Sen. Troy Brown and his attorney, Jill Craft, appeared before the Louisiana Senate’s Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion Feb. 15.

Despite two arrests on domestic abuse charges in the last 15 months — and two convictions on misdemeanor charges related to those arrests — state Sen. Troy Brown won’t step down. Sadly, Brown’s refusal to resign his Senate post has left many in the Louisiana Democratic party crawfishing on his fate: condemning him but not demanding his ouster. This should be an easy call.

Brown, D-Napoleonville, was arrested twice on charges of abusing two different women — one his wife, the other his “side friend.” In both cases, Brown pleaded no contest, effectively conceding the charges against him. His excuses and apologies have ranged from claiming a brain injury that prevented him from remembering the first incident to citing the Bible and claiming God’s forgiveness.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Louisiana Senate to consider Troy Brown's expulsion or suspension on Monday

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 4:16 PM

State Sen. Troy Brown and his attorney, Jill Craft, appeared before the Louisiana Senate’s Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion this morning.
  • State Sen. Troy Brown and his attorney, Jill Craft, appeared before the Louisiana Senate’s Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion this morning.

The Louisiana Senate’s Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion denied several requests from Baton Rouge attorney Jill Craft, who is representing Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, as it deliberates, via differing resolutions, Brown’s expulsion for a pair of domestic violence misdemeanors.

The committee will hear the expulsion resolution by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, and the six-week suspension resolution by Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, during the hearing Monday before the Senate membership, which comprises the select committee in this matter.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Legislature tries to hash out solutions to $304M state budget shortfall

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 6:05 PM

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Finance Committee consideration is being given to funding alternatives, but that Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration is pursuing its original proposal.
  • Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Finance Committee consideration is being given to funding alternatives, but that Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration is pursuing its original proposal.
The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday moved forward with a resolution, primarily for the benefit of their wavering House colleagues, that would employ $119 million of the rainy day fund as part of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ budget proposal to close a $304 revenue shortfall.

House Republicans have expressed reluctance to do that, instead seeking additional budget cutbacks.

The resolution, sponsored by Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, and six members of Senate leadership was moved to the Senate floor without action to expedite House movement on the matter. Earlier in the day, House Republicans and Edwards met to thrash out differences.

“I am very concerned if we don’t get into using some of the rainy day fund some of those programs that are much needed and much used. . . may very well get hurt,” Alario said. “The clock is running.”

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Two state senators plan to introduce measure to expel Troy Brown from Louisiana Legislature

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 5:27 PM

State Sen. Troy Brown.
  • State Sen. Troy Brown.
Two Louisiana state senators said today they will introduce a measure to expel state Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, from the Legislature following pleas of no contest in two separate domestic abuse allegations since he was elected in 2015.

State Sens. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, and Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, told reporters they will file an expulsion resolution after the opening of the special session, which opened Monday night. They said they expect the issue to be resolved by the end of the special session on Feb. 22.

“Any time an elected official breaks the law, it erodes the public’s trust,” Hewitt said. “There is zero tolerance for illegal or unethical behavior from our elected leaders and I believe this resolution is a step in that direction.”

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Affordable Care Act is subject of first bill pre-filed for the 2017 Louisiana legislative session

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 1:27 PM

State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington.
  • State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington.
State Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, in a bill filed almost three months prior to the 2017 general legislative session, is seeking an exemption for Louisiana residents from Affordable Care Act (ACA) noncompliance penalties.

The filing of House Bill 6 came shortly after President Donald Trump signed a similar executive order on Inauguration Day, mandating ACA-related federal departments and agencies waive provisions imposing a financial burden on states or individuals.

In his order, Trump said the aim was to “minimize unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act” pending its repeal by Congress.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

State budget cuts may imperil Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Head of Planning Bren Haase presents the 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection Feb. 1. - MATT HOUSTON
  • MATT HOUSTON
  • Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Head of Planning Bren Haase presents the 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection Feb. 1.

The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection unanimously recommended adoption of the 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast Wednesday, but worried possible forthcoming budget cuts could jeopardize some projects.

This year’s plan focuses on flood risk reduction and resilience, and applies new science to existing restoration projects in the state. It includes 120 projects that would build or maintain 800 square miles of land and could reduce expected storm damage by $150 billion over the next 50 years.

Louisiana would spend about $50 billion on the projects through 2067, half earmarked for restoration and the other half to risk reduction.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Compilation from Thrill Jockey benefits Baton Rouge Food Bank

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 4:00 PM

manywaters.jpeg
Thrill Jockey Records has released a 33-song compilation to benefit relief efforts following August 2016's devastating flooding. The compilation leans heavily on Louisiana punk and metal bands, including Thou (covering Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down"), Gland, All People, Sharks' Teeth, Caddywhompus, Donovan Wolfington and many others, as well as The Body with Full of Hell (covering Devo's "Gates of Steel") and Mike Scheidt of YOB. All proceeds from Many Waters will go to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

"I was thrilled to have so many local Louisiana bands on the compilation,"  said Thou drummer Josh Nee in the compilation's Bandcamp liner notes. "All of those bands come from the same DIY community-based background. Punk, pop, metal, whatever. They represent all kinds of music, but they all come from a similar, supportive culture.”

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