Sunday’s Advocate Political Roundup

Inside Politics for August 5, 2012 capitol news bureau

Long weighs bid
for governor in 2015
Count state Sen. Gerald Long among those considering a run for governor in three years.

Long said he and his wife, Rose, are mulling the possibility.

He would be the third member of the Long political dynasty to serve as governor. Long is distantly related to former Govs. Huey and Earl Long.

“What we’re doing is simply listening and engaging. It’s way too early to think in terms of the governor’s race,” said Long, R-Winnfield.

He said one key determining factor will be whether he can raise enough money.

State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain also is looking at the 2015 governor’s race. Other possible contenders include Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, State Treasurer John Kennedy and U.S. Sen. David Vitter — all Republicans.

Gov. Bobby Jindal cannot seek a third consecutive term, leaving the field wide open.

New law allows
for utility knives
Carpenters, electricians, hunters and fishermen who carry utility knives will no longer face illegal weapon carrying charges.

The law changed Wednesday to exclude knives “that may be opened with one hand by manual pressure applied to the blade or any projection of the blade.”

State Sen. Blade Morrish, R-Jennings, said the knives can be purchased over the counter at hardware stores. He said they are not springloaded like switchblades.

“There are a lot of utility knives used by carpenters, electricians, hunters and fishermen,” he said. “Those were illegal items and everyone uses them.”

Tax refund options expand for 3 years
For the taxable years 2013, 2014 and 2015, Louisiana taxpayers will have three options for receiving refunds.

Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, recently became law following the state Department of Revenue’s switch to debit cards for many refunds.

Fannin’s legislation calls for taxpayers to receive refunds through debit cards, checks or direct deposit.

Among the complaints about the debit cards was fees associated with them.

“We had so much problem and it was costing folks to use the debit cards. Aggravation,” Fannin said, listing his reasons for sponsoring the change.

Schools chief visits boards across state
State Superintendent of Education John White told the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board that it is a lot easier to get to them than to the Richland Parish School Board, which he recently visited after about a four-hour drive from Baton Rouge.

White also said that, during his visit to northeast Louisiana, his two cellphones disappeared.

Joan Hunt, an attorney for the state Department of Education, was in charge of the phones when White made his presentation to the East Baton Rouge panel late Thursday afternoon.

The superintendent is visiting 12 local school boards statewide to discuss new laws on vouchers, upcoming changes in course curriculum and other issues.

State workers keep out-of-state plates
Two state Department of Health and Hospitals executives hired from other states continue to drive cars with out-of-state license plates.

The two are Carol Steckel, chief of the Center for Health Care Innovation and Technology, and Zachery Jiwa, the agency’s chief technology officer.

Steckel, a former Alabama Medicaid director, has been on the Louisiana job since November 2010.

DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein hired Jiwa — a fellow Microsoft employee from the state of Washington — in the fall for the agency technology job. Prior to that, Jiwa had worked in the technology field in Austin.

“Zac is currently in the process of changing his plates,” DHH spokeswoman Meghan Speakes wrote in an email response.

As for Steckel, Speakes wrote: “Carol’s primary residence, as well as her husband, are both in Alabama. She travels back and forth frequently and does not have the ‘intent to remain’ in Louisiana, which means she is an Alabama resident.”

Speakes said the agency’s legal staff determined that Steckel “is justified in keeping her Alabama license and plate.”

Library construction, post topics for lunch
East Baton Rouge Parish Library System Assistant Directors Patricia Husband and Mary Stein will address the Press Club of Baton Rouge at noon Monday.

Husband and Stein will discuss the system’s search for a new director and the library’s various construction projects. Husband and Stein also will talk about library trends and resources such as the system’s digital historic newspapers.

The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St., downtown. 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.

Dardenne to discuss
tourism budget cuts
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is speaking to the Capital City Republican Women at 6 p.m. Thursday at BREC Independence Center, Room 117.

Dardenne plans to discuss the budget cuts to the tourism department and how the 2012 legislative session affected the agency.

RSVP via Facebook on Capital City Republican Women’s Facebook page.

For additional information, call (225) 284-5786.

Candidates asked
to submit statements
The deadline for candidates in the Nov. 6 election to submit statements of candidacy to The Advocate is 5 p.m. Aug. 24 — one week after the close of qualifying.

That ballot features the presidential race, but there are a number of state and local races, including congressional races, the 5th and 6th district seats on the Louisiana Supreme Court, a number of seats on the state Courts of Appeal and the District 2 seat on the Public Service Commission.

In East Baton Rouge, there are races for mayor-president, Metro Council and City Court.

In Ascension Parish, there are municipal races in Gonzales and Donaldsonville as well as a race for Ascension Parish Court judge.

Other municipal races include those in Walker, Livingston, French Settlement, Port Vincent, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Clinton, New Iberia, Delcambre, Loreauville, Amite City, Roseland and Tangipahoa.

The list of nine proposed constitutional amendments on that ballot is available on the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.la.gov/Portals/0/elections/pdf/NOV62012CAS-withseal.pdf.

The runoff election is scheduled Dec. 8.

For information on submitting statements of candidacy to The Advocate, contact Metro Editor Vicki Ferstel at vferstel@theadvocate.com.

Compiled by The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Contact email is cnb@theadvocate.com.

Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved

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About watchdogofladisability

Hi, My name is Jason W. Weill and I am a 2007 graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as well as an individual diagnosed with Asbergers Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I created Watchdog of La Disability because I am a non-partisan watchdog who not only holds our leaders accountable in Baton Rouge but also turns heads. Watchdog of La Disability will also focus on important Disability related issues using the most powerful media sources in TV,Print, and Radio: KTBS-TV Shreveport, WWL AM/FM/TV New Orleans along with the Times Picayune Newspaper and WAFB-TV along with the Advocate in Baton Rouge. I hope you find my Watchdog side to be of use because being a watchdog means being fair to both sides and holding anyone accountable who decides to take avantage of the disabled.
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