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Archive for the ‘ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council’ Category

Legislators and leaders of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) would do well to pay attention to the rumblings of discontent that began in West Virginia and rolled westward into Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Those same rumblings, though faint and indistinct for now, are being picked up by those in tune with the times.

Louisiana’s public school teachers, a group to whom I owe so very much from a personal perspective and to whom I shall ever remain loyal, are quietly receiving copies of a “Teacher Salary Satisfaction Survey” being distributed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT).

It could just as easily be called a “Teacher Salary Dissatisfaction Survey.

The flier opens with the question: “What are you willing to do for a pay raise?” and goes on to note that education funding in Louisiana “has been frozen for the past decade. Our teacher salaries are now about $2,000 below the Southern regional average.”

How can that possibly be? How could we have allowed ourselves to neglect the most dedicated, the most heroic among us for so very long?

We gave state police huge salary increases and while I don’t begrudge their pay increases, they certainly should not have come at the expense of teacher salaries.

Teachers should never have to bow down at the sacrificial altar of political servitude, yet that is precisely what has happened.

I can still remember that little presidential wannabe Bobby Jindal telling LABI that the only reason some teachers are still in the classroom was by virtue of their being able to breathe. That was just before Sandy Hook when a teacher stood between a gunman and a student and took a bullet that ended her breathing ability but which allowed a child to go on living.

I still remember teachers at Ruston High School taking an interest in the well-concealed abilities of a poverty-stricken, less-than-mediocre student and nurturing and cultivating those latent talents into eventual college material and a career in journalism. They didn’t have to do that; they could have let him slip through the cracks. But they didn’t. Thanks, Mrs. Garrett, Miss Lewis, Miss Hinton, Mr. Ryland, Coach Perkins, Mr. Peoples, Mr. Barnes. Thanks so very much. You never knew (or maybe you did) what your compassion meant to that kid.

“Another budget crisis is looming, and yet our legislature has taken no steps to avert it,” the flier says.

True. So true. The legislature has taken no steps because legislators, for the most part, are in bed with the special interests who are slowly bleeding this state to death with overly-generous tax breaks even as benefits are being ripped from our citizens. Benefits like health care, education, decent roads and bridges, flood control, the environment—benefits that we rely on our elected officials to provide.

Oh, but they haven’t forgotten the tax breaks for the Saints, the Pelicans, the Walmarts, the Exxons, the Dow Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, the movie industry, the utilities, the banks and payday loan companies, the nursing homes, the private prisons, the Koch brothers, the Grover Norquists, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or chicken-plucking plants.

But teachers? Nope. They don’t need raises. Besides, we have virtual academies and charter schools, so who needs public education?

“In some states,” the flier reads, “teachers and school employees have acted to demand pay raises and better funding for schools. Actions in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky had positive results for educators.”

LABI, of course, would beg to differ. After all, LABI was created back in the 1970s for the express purpose of destroying labor unions in Louisiana through passage of the right to work law. I got that straight from the mouth of Ed Steimel, one of the moving forces for the creation of LABI, shortly before his death.

But let’s back up a minute and pause for reflection before you try to label me as some ranting liberal or even worse, a (gasp) communist.

Do you approve of:

  • Your annual two-week (or whatever the length of time) vacation?
  • How about the eight-hour work day?
  • The 40-hour work week?
  • Overtime?
  • Retirement?
  • Minimum wage?
  • Health benefits?
  • The abolition of sweat shops where children as young as seven or eight are required to work 12- or 14-hour days for pennies?
  • Workplace safety reforms that have drastically reduced injuries and deaths at work?
  • Sanitation laws that have cleaned up the meatpacking industry?

Well, gee, if you approve of all that, you must be a ranting liberal yourself. Or worse, a (nah, better not say it).

But just who do you think brought about those reforms? It certainly wasn’t management. Okay, the guvmint was largely responsible for the meatpacking industry reforms but for the rest, you can tip your hat to organized labor.

“Please complete the Teacher Salary Satisfaction Survey,” the flier reads. “Let the Louisiana Federation of Teachers know what you think about salaries in our state, and what you think will help correct the situation.”

The second page is an authorization form requesting the local school board (in this case, Livingston Parish) to deduct dues for the LFT.

Legislators and LABI are being taken to class here and they’d be wise to pay attention lest they get a failing grade.

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Taking their cue from Alabama Sheriff TODD ENTREKIN, several members of Louisiana’s House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill that would cut food expenditures for prisoners and college and university students while increasing the percentage of prisoner work-release pay that the state receives in an effort to boost revenue as the state rushes headlong toward the June 30 fiscal cliff.

HB-4118, co-authored by a dozen Republican legislators who received the highest ratings from the conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP), would slash funding for inmate meals three days per week in an effort to help make up budgetary shortfalls.

The bill has been endorsed by AFP, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, and Attorney General Jeff Landry as an effective cost-saving measure that would, at the same time, continue to allow generous tax breaks for business and industry to remain untouched. Also remaining intact would be tax incentives for movie and television production in the state.

In Alabama, existing legislation allows sheriffs to collect a salary supplement as a percentage of savings achieved.

Entrekin, Sheriff of Etowah County in Alabama, recently came under heavy criticism when it was learned that he cut back on his jail’s food budget by eliminating meat for prisoners for all but a couple of days per month but then used the money saved to purchase a beach house for $740,000. HB 4118, while similar to the Alabama law, would have built-in safeguards against any surplus being diverted for personal use.

“Sheriff Entrekin, who runs only a single county jail in Alabama, was able to save approximately $250,000 per year for three years. Granted, he abused the intent of the law by using his surplus funds for personal gain,” said State Reps. Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) and Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) in a joint statement announcing their introduction of the bill. “If surplus funds are properly allocated back to the state instead of to individuals as was the case in Alabama, that misuse of funds can be avoided. With 50,000 prison inmates and more than 200,000 college students in Louisiana, imagine how much we would be able to save by employing the same paradigm.”

HB 4118 would cut servings of meat, milk and juice by three days a week for 50 weeks per year—Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for state-run prisons and all colleges and universities and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for parish jails and privately-run prisons. State appropriations for those institutions would be cut accordingly.

“We wouldn’t want to make such cuts for prisons on Sundays or during the weeks of Thanksgiving or Christmas because that would just not be the Christian thing to do,” the statement by Henry and Harris said. “Colleges and universities are out during those weeks anyway, so they would not be affected during those times.”

They said the potential savings to the state, calculated at a minimum of $3 per meal at which meat, milk and juice are eliminated, would be an estimated $22.5 million per year at prisons and $75 million at institutions of higher learning, or a total of $97.5 million per year.

Public schools would be exempted from the more restrictive diets for now, they said.

Operators of prisons and jails typically receive about 60 percent of the earnings of each prisoner who participates in a work-release program. That amount would be increased to 75 percent if HB 4118 becomes law. Additionally, a processing fee of one dollar would be added to the sale of each soft drink and snack to the prices presently charged by prison commissaries, according to provisions of the bill. Currently, prisoners are charged $3 for soft drinks and $5 for snacks.

“These people are in jail for committing crimes,” the two lawmakers’ joint statement said. “They get free housing, food, clothing and they’re learning a trade. There really isn’t any need for them to earn money on top of those benefits.

“This bill will allow the state to protect the valuable incentives for businesses and industry which provide jobs for Louisiana’s honest, hard-working citizens,” they said. “The bill protects the same jobs that will be available to the college students when they graduate. We’re asking students to sacrifice a little now for greater rewards in the future.”

Though the bill’s language doesn’t specifically say so, the same cuts could also be applied at hospitals now operated as part of the public-private partnerships implemented by the Jindal administration, which would produce additional savings although no estimates were provided for the medical facilities.

If approved, the new law would go into effect one year from today.

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When Ronald Reagan wanted to push a bill through a recalcitrant House ruled by Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill (as bad as he was, O’Neill was still head and shoulders above current Speaker Paul Ryan in terms of leadership and ability), he would go on national television and appeal directly to the American voters.

Gov. John Bel Edwards should have taken his cue from the Gipper. Instead of taking to the TV airwaves to make his case directly to Louisiana citizens, he has chosen to go it alone against an obstinate, arrogate, no-solutions-to-offer Republican legislature who, to quote my grandfather (and I’m cleaning it up a bit) wouldn’t urinate on him if he were on fire.

But while Edwards has not displayed the leadership one would expect of a West Point graduate, neither has this Jell-O-backboned legislature done anything to warrant any bouquets. The word obstructionism comes to mind immediately as a one-word description of this bunch.

There is not a shred of doubt that Republican legislators are still taking their cue from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Grover Norquist. Remember in 2015, when 11 legislators WROTE to Norquist to obtain his permission to vote for Jindal’s tax swap?

Since when does Grover Norquist speak for the voters of Louisiana?

But, believe it or not, this rant isn’t about the legislator’s ability to waste some $900,000 on a special session that failed to produce a solution to the looming state financial disaster. Retired State Budget Director Stephen Winham covered that in yesterday’s post.

Instead, in a classic illustration of how to violate journalistic practices by burying the lede this deep in the story, this is about legislators’ real priorities while in Baton Rouge at the governor’s call to do something—anything—to avert the fiscal cliff that awaits next June.

Citizens routinely flock to Baton Rouge during legislative sessions to testify before committees on their positions on various issues. If you’ve ever sat in on any of these committee meetings, it’s apparent that legislators are just going through the motions of pretending to listen to the voice of the people. In reality, they converse among themselves during citizens’ testimonies, walk out of the committee room to take a phone call, or generally get that patently political glazed look as they wait for the testimony to end so that the committee can proceed with its predetermined vote.

The real reason many legislators were in Baton Rouge for this session was not to tend to the people’s business but to line their own pockets, or more precisely, their campaign treasuries.

Beginning on Jan. 31, and continuing through the special session which began on Feb. 19 and until March 12 (one week from today), 41 campaign fundraisers for 46 legislators were scheduled by lobbyists, including the Beer Industry League, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA), and Southern Strategy Group in such partying-hardy locations (where the real legislative work gets done) as:

  • The Longview House, the former home of Mrs. Earl K. Long, now housing the offices of Haynie & Associates;
  • The Jimmie Davis House, which houses the offices of CeCe Richter and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association;
  • The Louisiana Restaurant Association House (LRA: recently purchased near the State Capitol);
  • Beer Industry League offices.

One of those, on March 8 (Thursday), for State Sen. Eric LaFleur, will feature an appearance by Gov. Edwards. Of course, the Beer Industry League keeps legislators plied with alcohol at each of these locations, thus insuring their undying loyalty when key votes come up.

It’s uncertain if the suggested contribution amounts reflect the legislator’s relative worth to the organization, but following is the schedule of fundraisers hosted by the various lobbyists:

  • 30: Longview (1465 Ted Dunham Ave.) Fundraiser for Senator John Milkovich ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 31: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep. Robby Carter ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 31: Jimmie Davis House (1331 Lakeridge Dr.) Fundraiser for Rep. Clay Schexnayder ($500 Contribution);
  • 31: Longview Fundraiser for Rep. Joseph Stagni ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 31: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep. Tanner Magee ($250 contribution);
  • 5: 18 Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep Frankie Howard ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 5: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Senator Rick Ward ($500 contribution);
  • 6: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Scott Simon ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 7: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Blake Miguez ($250-500 contribution);
  • 7: LRA House (Louisiana Restaurant Association – which recently got a nice place right by the capitol at 1312 Ted Dunham Ave. to host fundraisers) Fundraiser for Rep Stephen Carter ($500 contribution);
  • 7: LRA House Fundraiser for Rep Thomas Carmody ($500 contribution);
  • 7: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Senate President John Alario, Jr. and Speaker of the House Taylor Barras ($500 contribution—Can’t wait to see how much this one brought in);
  • 15: Longview Fundraiser for Senators Page Cortez & Jonathan Perry ($500 contribution);
  • 19 (Opening day of special session): Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Greg Tarver (suggested contribution up to $2,500—nothing cheap about Tarver, including his price);
  • 19: Longview Fundraiser for Reps Patrick Connick, Kevin Pearson, & Polly Thomas ($250 suggested contribution)
  • 19: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Sam Jenkins ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 20: The Lobdell House (711 N. 6th St) Fundraiser for Rep Frank Hoffman ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 20: LRA House Fundraiser for Senators Ronnie Johns and Dan Morrish ($500 contribution);
  • 21: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep Kenny Havard ($500 contribution);
  • 21: Longview Fundraiser for Rep John Stefanski ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 22: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Jay Luneau ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 22: LRA House Fundraiser for Rep Chris Leopold ($250 contribution);
  • 22: LRA House Fundraiser for Senator Sharon Hewitt ($500 contribution);
  • 22: Longview Fundraiser for Senator Karen Carter Peterson ($500 contribution—She’s the largely ineffective chairperson of the State Democratic Party);
  • 22: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Gary Carter ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 23: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Ryan Gatti ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 27: LRA House Fundraiser for Senator Dale Erdey ($500 contribution);
  • 28: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Dan Claitor and Rep Franklin Foil ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 28: LRA House Fundraiser for Rep Rick Edmonds ($500 contribution);
  • 28: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Nancy Landry ($500 contribution)
  • 28: Southern Strategy Group of LA Fundraiser for Senator Ed Price ($500 contribution);
  • 1: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Rep Rodney Lyons ($250 to $2,500 suggested contribution);
  • 1: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Alan Seabaugh (attendee $250, Host Committee $1000, Supporter of Seabaugh $2500);
  • 6: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Troy Carter ($500 to $2,500 contribution—another big-ticket legislator);
  • 6: Southern Strategy Group Fundraiser for Rep Denise Marcell ($250 suggested contribution);
  • 7: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Troy Carter ($500 suggested contribution) (Two days in a row for this Senator! A double-dipper! His relationship with the ATC Commissioner must be very important to this group);
  • 8: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Eric LaFleur with Special Guest LA Governor John Bel Edwards ($500 contribution)
  • 8: Longview Fundraiser for Senator Regina Barrow ($500 suggested contribution)
  • 9: Beer Industry League Fundraiser for Senator Norby Chabert and Rep Stuart Bishop ($500 suggested contribution);
  • 9: Longview Fundraiser for Rep Ray Garofalo ($250 contribution);
  • 12: Jimmie Davis House Fundraiser for Rep Patrick Jefferson ($250 – 2,500 suggested contribution).

Twenty-eight state place RESTRICTIONS on campaign CONTRIBUTIONS and Louisiana is one of those—theoretically.

Louisiana Revised Statute 24:56 addresses PROHIBITED ACTIVITY.

Louisiana RS 18:1505.2 Q(b) also says: “No legislator or any principal or subsidiary committee of a legislator shall accept or deposit a contribution, loan, or transfer of funds or accept and use any in-kind contribution, as defined in this Chapter, for his own campaign during a regular legislative session.”

So, yes, there are restrictions against legislators soliciting or accepting campaign contributions during legislative sessions, but a close look at the wording gives lawmakers—the ones who write the laws—a loophole you could drive a truck through.

And that loophole is the words “regular legislative session.” The fiasco that ended on Monday was not a regular session but a special session. In fact, it was the fifth special session called to deal with the state’s fiscal condition, all of which failed to do so.

But campaign contributions are another matter. Where legislators are unable/unwilling to fix the state’s fiscal problems, they certainly see to their own financial well-being. And if they can do so while on the taxpayer clock for $156 per diem (Latin: per day) and mileage payments to and from Baton Rouge, so much the better. Church Lady from Saturday Night Live had a term for that: “Isn’t that special.” (Pun intended).

One observer said, “It’s almost insulting that they (legislators) even waste our time and money on these hours-long committee meetings where they are supposed to be considering the voice of the people who take time away from their jobs and families with the naïve perception that their voices actually matter when it is abundantly clear that decisions are controlled and bought by a small group of power associations. Just watch the process unfold. These groups will prevail I their positions no matter how many logical facts and explanations are presented by the other side (and often when the prevailing associations have absolutely no logical facts or explanations).”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

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A three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge has scheduled arguments for Tuesday in the state’s appeal of a DECISION by a 19th Judicial District Court judge last March that knocked down much of the Jindal administration’s arbitrary rule changes in the approval of medical treatment for state employees injured on the job.

The decision was another in a long line of “reform” movements by Jindal—and pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—that were subsequently found to be unconstitutional or simply fell apart. Some of those included public education funding, group medical coverage for state employees, public-private partnerships in the operation of state hospitals, prison privatizations and tax proposals.

In his March 30 seven-page REASONS for JUDGMENT that followed a Feb. 7 bench trial, District Judge Don Johnson noted that:

Because the legislature did not authorize OWC to create a new rule creating a “tacit denial” when the provider simply ignores a request for treatment, “the Office of Workers Compensation exceeded its legislative authority as (it) lacks the authority to create and implement procedural regulations that authorize the ‘tacit denial of requested medical treatment which is statutorily obligated to the injured worker by the employer pursuant to (state statute).”

Johnson also found that OWC promulgated rules requiring injured workers to meet a higher burden than the state statute for any variance in an injured worker’s treatment schedule are “vague and the regulations are arbitrary, denying injured workers’ medical treatment that Louisiana employers are statutorily obligated to provide…”

Johnson also found that the “scheme” for determining whether an injured worker can receive medical treatment outside the Louisiana medical treatment guidelines (MTG) “is unduly burdensome.”

Special Assistant to the Director Carey Holliday testified that he was hired to help “bring the judges into conformity,” according to the answer to the state’s appeal filed by attorney J. Arthur Smith III on behalf of several plaintiffs. Holiday did that by implementing judicial performance evaluations. While he acknowledged he could not tell judges how to rule, he could “put them together and let them talk” and that “there will be some conformity…to come out of that,” Smith said in his answer.

The most damning revelation to come out of last February’s trial was testimony of improper Ex Parte communication between insurance carriers and defense attorneys about the merits of injury claims pending before OWC judges. Those communications were usually in the form of emails.

For example, one such email from a workers’ compensation defense attorney to former OWC Director Wes Hataway, Holliday, and the OWC chief judge contained complaints that one judge had ruled against an employer. The email went on to say of the judge, “He should be fired immediately,” and implied that the judge’s skills were less than those of a first-year law student. “He will do as he pleases no matter what,” the email said. “If this isn’t grounds to fire a judge, I don’t know what is.” The defense attorney ended his email by saying, “I think it’s time for the W.C. judges to become accountable for their actions.”

Judge Johnson took a dim view of this disregard for judicial independence by the 2011 decision to remove of the decision-making authority of the OWC judges and place it in the hands of the OWC Medical Director, Dr. Christopher Rich.

Johnson ruled that OWC “has violated the separation of powers doctrine by compromising judicial independence” by giving unpreceded powers to Dr. Rich, who was awarded a $500,000 contract to serve as medical director.

Rich, if nothing else, is consistent. Previously involved in ethical problems with another state contract, LouisianaVoice wrote about an apparent conflict of interest. In March 2011, the State Ethics Board ruled that he was prohibited, in his capacity as Medical director of OWC from participating in any matter involving Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital, a facility in which he owned an interest and which provided medical treatment to injured workers.

As OWC Medical Director, he could deny coverage to a state employee and then refer the employee to Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital for private treatment.

And did he ever deny coverage to state employees once ensconced as medical director. He even testified in February that he ignored the clinical judgment of treating physicians, even specialists, giving no weight to the recommendations of treating physicians. Moreover, according to his own testimony, he never examined an injured worker even though he made the final decision on what, if any, medical treatment the employee would receive. He even overruled a neurosurgeon’s recommendation that an employee undergo a cervical fusion because he, Rich, did not deem it necessary.

Attorney Janice Valois Barber testified in February that Rich had denied 100 percent of her clients’ requests for medical treatment variances. Dr. John Logan also testified by deposition that 100 percent of his variances likewise had been denied by Dr. Rich. Dr. Logan said that many of his patients simply gave up, knowing they would never get approval for the medical treatment they needed.

Dr. Pierce Nunley testified that he performs spinal surgery on almost a daily basis. He said he has attempted to contact Dr. Rich regarding Rich’s repeated refusals of request for treatments that vary from the MTG but was never able to get through to Rich nor did Rich return his calls.

So now, the state is continuing to pour good money after bad by appealing the decision of the lower court in an effort to uphold what was—and is—a very bad policy in dealing with people’s lives.

To us, it doesn’t seem quite right that one man, who never even once examined a patient would deny 100 percent of all requests for variances in the normal medical treatment guidelines. Surely there were a couple of valid claims in all of that.

But by consistently rejecting each and every claim, Dr. Rich was enforcing the Bobby Jindal code of justice and fair play.

It might be fine for Jindal to sell his books to his foundation in order to divert money from his non-profit into his pockets but no injured worker had a right to receive treatment for his injuries.

It might be fine for a legislator to lease luxury automobiles, pay ethics fines or even income taxes from campaign funds or for legislators to place relatives in state employment, but we just can’t have judges giving these deadbeat state employees a decent break.

And why not? The money-sucking appeals aren’t costing elected officials and bureaucrats anything. The tab is being picked by those clueless taxpayers. And besides, the state has plenty money.

The three-judge panel hearing the case includes appeal court judges John Michael Guidry, John T. Pettigrew and William J. Crain.

 

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A question for Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis:

How much is enough?

And that’s not a rhetorical question. We really want to know what your limits are.

According to Francis, a wealthy man in his own right, he should be entitled to a free lunch.

Literally.

You see, the political campaigns of Public Service Commission (PSC) members, the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner and judges at every level are financed in large part by the very ones they regulate or do business with on a daily basis.

But apparently that association is not cozy enough for Francis, who wants to remove all restrictions on accepting free meals from representatives of utilities, motor carriers, and others regulated by the PSC.

Granted, the PSC purports to hold itself to a higher standard than actual ethics rules allow. Legally, elected officials are allowed to accept up to $60 per day in food and beverage under the guise of “business” lunches or dinners. But, as Baton Rouge Advocate columnist and resident curmudgeon JAMES GILL writes, the PSC, at the urging of members Foster Campbell and Lambert Boissiere, rammed through a rule barring all freeloading.

That didn’t sit well with Francis, who is financially solvent enough to daily feed the entire commission out of his petty cash account.

Saying he wanted the commission to be run like a business, he sniffed that a working lunch is “pretty standard procedure in the real work world.”

Our question to Francis then is this: since when is government run like a business? Businesses are run to make a profit; government is run to provide services for its citizens. The two concepts are like the rails on a railroad track: they never cross though they often do appear to converge.

And then there is our follow up question to Mr. Francis: isn’t it enough that you manage to extract huge sums of money from the industries you regulate in the form of campaign contributions? Why would you need a free lunch on top of that?

After all, your campaign finance reports indicate you received $5,000 from AT&T, $5,000 from ENPAC (Entergy’s political action committee), $5,000 from Atmos Energy Corp. PAC, $2,500 from the Louisiana Rural Electric Cooperative, $2,500 from Dynamic Environmental Services, $2,500 from ADR Electric, $2,500 from carbon producing company Rain CII, $2,500 from Davis Oil principal William Mills, III, $2,500 each from Jones Walker and the Long law firms, each of whom represents oil and energy interests. There are plenty others but those are the primary purchasers of the Francis Free Lunch.

LouisianaVoice would like to offer a substitute motion to the Francis Free Lunch proposal. It will never be approved, but here goes:

Let’s enact a law, strictly enforced, that will prohibit campaign contributions from any entity that is governed, regulated, or otherwise overseen by those elected to the Public Service Commission, the Louisiana Insurance Commission, judgeships at all levels, Attorney General, and Agriculture Commissioner.

  • No electric or gas companies, oil and gas transmission companies, or trucking and bus companies or rail companies could give a dime to Public Service Commission candidates.
  • Lawyers would be prohibited from contributing to candidates for judge or Attorney General.
  • Insurance companies would not be allowed to make contributions to candidates for Insurance Commissioner.
  • Likewise, companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF, who control 75% of the world pesticides market, and Factory farms like Tyson and Cargill, which account for 72 percent of poultry production, 43 percent of egg production, and 55 percent of pork production worldwide, could no longer attempt to influence legislation through contributions to candidates for Agriculture Commissioner.
  • Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) could no longer accept contributions from individuals or companies affiliated in any way, shape or form with education.

While we’re at it, the Lieutenant Governor’s office oversees tourism in the state. In fact, that’s about all that office does. So why should we allow candidates for Lieutenant Governor to accept campaign contributions from hotels, convention centers, and the like?

This concept could be taken even further to bar contributions from special interests to legislators who sit on committee that consider bills that affect those interests. Education Committee members, like BESE members, could not accept funds from Bill Gates or from any charter, voucher or online school operators, for example.

Like we said, it’ll never happen. That would be meaningful campaign reform. This is Louisiana. And never the twain shall meet. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would see to that.

But wouldn’t it be fun to watch candidates scramble for campaign funds if such restrictions were to be implemented?

We might even see a return of the campaign sound trucks of the Earl Long era rolling up and down the main streets of our cities and towns after all the TV advertising money dries up.

Ah, nostalgia.

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