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Veto Session Risky
The knee-jerk reaction among lawmakers after Gov. Bobby Jindal's line-item budget vetoes was to caucus (via phone) about a possible veto session. Veto sessions are automatic under Louisiana's constitution — unless a majority of either the House or Senate notifies their respective presiding officer, in writing, of a desire not to have one. In most years, that's the automatic part; lawmakers are usually so tired of each other and the governor that the last thing they want to do is go back to Red Stick 40 days after all those sine die parties. Then again, most governors don't line-item veto 258 budget items. There's big political risk involved in a veto override session, however. For starters, there's the ancient wisdom that says, "If you shoot at the king, don't miss." In this case, it's one thing to get a majority of both houses to agree to a veto session; it's quite another to get two-thirds of both houses to override a veto let alone more than 250 vetoes. One idea percolating among senators last week was to pick two dozen or so vetoes and focus on overriding just them. That's easy for a senator to say: you only need 26 votes in the 39-member Senate to override. In the 105-member House, you need 70 votes. The math gets out of hand pretty quickly. Another idea was to go back in and focus on just a few — maybe just one or two — vetoes to send a message to Jindal. Lawmakers have until July 28 to send in their written notices calling off the session. If a veto session is going to happen, it must begin on Saturday, Aug. 2 and end no later than Aug. 6. By a two-thirds vote of both houses, lawmakers can adjourn a veto session at any time. — DuBos

 

Jindal Vetoes His Vote
As a freshman congressman three years ago, Bobby Jindal voted in favor of the Real ID Act. Riding a wave of paranoia and grief created by terrorist attacks on home soil, federal lawmakers handed down new state requirements for identification cards. The intent was to create a single, universal card stocked with private and personal information that citizens would be required to use to board airplanes or enter sensitive sites, even to drive a vehicle. As a new Republican governor, Jindal signed legislation into law earlier this month that prohibits Louisiana from participating in the very same Real ID Act he voted for as a congressman. It's unarguably a flip-flop, albeit a policy twist that Jindal is more than happy to make. Since Congress passed the act in 2005, the unfunded mandate has grown into a $14 billion initiative to make driver's licenses more secure and to collect personal data. Over time, the nation's governors felt burned by the price tag and directives, but they didn't put up with the pain for long. In June, following the action of other states, Arizona turned its back on the act. When Louisiana did the same last week, it became the 11th state to join the pushback. Another six states have passed nonbinding resolutions. Now, privacy advocates are cheering for Jindal, with liberals and conservatives coming to the table in unison. "The ACLU of Louisiana commends both Gov. Jindal and the Legislature for standing up to the Bush administration in a nationwide movement against Real ID," Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said in a press release. — Alford

 

OCS Issue on the Move
Members of Louisiana's congressional delegation have long called for lifting the ban on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), but now that a sitting president, GOP presidential candidate and a top federal agency have joined the push, the issue is gaining new momentum. The United States is the only country that has closed more than 80 percent of its outer continental shelf to drilling. Outdated estimates, last assessed in the late 1980s, assume there are as much as 18 billion barrels of untapped oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off U.S. coastlines. President George W. Bush has requested that Congress open up OCS area in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, fresh on the heels of his decision to remove an executive prohibition — issued through his own office — on similar exploration. Generations of Louisiana lawmakers have filed legislation to lift the statutory ban, but have been unable to make any headway. The GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, has advocated increased OCS energy production. McCain says he does not support drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Meanwhile, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrat Party's assumed nominee, has said little about the expansion of OCS drilling. Obama's campaign planks focus instead on reducing oil consumption, retooling fuel-economy standards and creating new tax breaks. — Alford

LDWF Gets New Logo
If you're an avid hunter, concerned conservationist or obsessed angler, you no doubt can recall from memory the timeless logo of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). It's round, with an antiquated image of a deer surrounding by miniature crab, rabbit, quail, bass and other Bayou State critters in muted colors. Well, forget about that. At last week's meeting of the LDWF Commission, a new logo was unveiled. It's a square design with bold colors. The coastline of Vermilion Bay and its cypress trees were the inspiration for the new look, which includes a bright blue sky, water breaks set against vivid greenery, and silhouettes of three major species managed by LDWF: deer, waterfowl and fish. The new logo is meant to be a simpler version that represents the vast Louisiana outdoor landscape, says LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. It likewise serves as a visual representation of the department's evolution, he adds. LDWF will use the new logo on all future projects, publications, programs, signage, trucks and other department objects. The old logo will be phased out. The department's public information office researched and designed the new logo with input from local graphic artists, marketing firms and LDWF employees. — Alford

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