The lieutenant governor's post is safe for at least one more year. A proposal to abolish the office, backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal and sponsored by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans, would have saved the state about $25 million over a five-year period, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office's analysis of House Bill 812. But the House and Governmental Affairs Committee rejected the bill by a one-vote margin last week. The measure would have required a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate, plus voter approval in a statewide referendum. Given the political impact of legislative term limits and the ambitions of many lawmakers, the idea never gained much momentum.
Among others who opposed the bill was Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, a Baton Rouge Republican who plans to run for lieutenant governor in October. Dardenne said the bill "is not the right thing to do for the state." He also suggested that there hasn't been enough study on the issue to move forward yet. Prior to the hearing, Dardenne said he has plans for the office he hopes to win later this year, especially in the area of tourism. Specifically, he said he would continue to place a spotlight on New Orleans, even though other parts of the state often complain they're being overlooked in state marketing plans.
"I don't think there's any question that New Orleans is the gateway to Louisiana," Dardenne said. "It's a key asset to marketing Louisiana nationally." As to whether he would maintain the lieutenant governor's New Orleans office in the Convention and Visitors Bureau building at 2020 St. Charles Ave., an on again-off again issue, Dardenne said he needs time to review the matter. "That's something I'm going to have to look into and think about," he said. — Jeremy Alford