On the last day of the legislative session (June 21), at least two coastal lawmakers were itching for a special legislative session later this year, albeit for very different reasons. The first call came from Senate President Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan, who knocked heads with House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, over a bill to allow the state attorney general to hire lawyers on a contingency-fee basis to fight BP. In many respects, that feud has been simmering for years; this year it boiled over.
The sessions of 2008 and 2009 also ended with showdowns between those two men, who differ in style and ideology. Tucker claims Chaisson waited too long to negotiate the bill's details; Chaisson contends that's "absolutely untrue" and counters that Tucker and his key lieutenants ran every compromise by business and industry lobbyists, who wanted the bill torpedoed. The end result is blood on the water. Chaisson was so enraged on the final day that he stormed the dais in the House as the session's deadline neared, shouting and pointing his finger at Tucker.
Before senators returned to their districts, Chaisson promised to take his beef to the top. "I'm going to ask the governor to call a special session," he said.
On another front, House Natural Resources Chairman Gordon Dove, R-Houma and a close ally of Gov. Bobby Jindal, has been calling for a special session since the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20. "I still firmly believe that when all the dust settles, maybe in a couple of months, we're going to be back here in a special session," he said last week. "I'm glad we got to assign some money for the oil spill and took some positive steps on the budget, but there's nothing we could do about the federal drilling moratorium. That's going to have a trickle-down effect." — Jeremy Alford