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Archive for the ‘Legislature, Legislators’ Category

It’s been nearly a year since we’ve written anything about the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry and while there appears to be little going on with the board, there is quite a bit of activity going on beneath that veneer of tranquility, including, apparently, an ongoing FBI audit of the board.

Despite the efforts of State Sen. Daniel Martiny (R-Metairie) who, in 2014 passed legislation to move the board’s headquarters from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, the board has continued to resist the move from its posh high-rent offices on Canal Street.

Our last story about the LSBD was last July. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/07/18/case-of-slidell-dentist-illustrates-unbridled-power-of-dentistry-board-to-destroy-careers-for-sake-of-money/

Apparently the FBI has taken an interest in the LSBD.

The AGENDA for a special March 10 meeting (a Friday, no less) of the board caught the eye of one of our regular readers, a dentist who was put through the board’s mill and ground into so much fodder a few years ago.

Buried on page three of the agenda, under the heading “New Business and any other business which may properly come before the board,” was item IX which said, “Discussion of FBI audit results (p. 50).”

We had no prior knowledge of any FBI audit, although we have been aware that the board’s former attorney is awaiting a disciplinary hearing before the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. https://louisianavoice.com/2015/11/16/dentistry-board-facing-difficult-future-because-of-policies-contracts-with-attorney-private-investigator-are-cancelled/

At the very bottom of page 3 was a call for an executive session “for the purpose of discussing investigations, adjudications, litigation and professional competency of individuals and staff; because discussion of these topics would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining and litigation position of the Louisiana State of Dentistry.”

It was unclear if the proposed closed-door session was related to the FBI audit or not.

LouisianaVoice will be making a public records request for that FBI audit report and we will publish our findings.

Meanwhile in his farewell address in the winter 2014 LSBD BULLETIN, outgoing President Dr. Wilton Guillory said, “Legislation was recently passed to move the Board’s domicile to Baton Rouge. If that legislation is not changed in the upcoming legislature as I hope, then the Board, who self generates its funds, will have to raise the license fees to fund the move. We have been able to prevent this in years past but will have no choice. We are working with the LDA (Louisiana Dentists Association) and legislators to try to prevent this unnecessary move.”

That self-generation of funds has been a bone of contention between the board and the dentists its disciplines. Because the board sets itself up as accuser, prosecutor and judge, dentists who appear on the board’s radar have little chance of prevailing in disputes.

That is, if they choose to dispute the board—and that’s a big “if” that carries high risks, as in high dollar risks. Often a token fine, if disputed, quickly becomes a five- or even a six-figure fine and more than one dentist has been run out of business by the sheer cost of defending himself from the board’s kangaroo court.

That’s why Martiny, when his own dentist fell into disfavor for a minor offense, took it upon himself to rein in the board by moving it from its Taj Mahal to more modest headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Thanks to State Reps. Robert Johnson (D-Marksville) and Frank Hoffman (R-West Monroe), Martiny’s efforts may be overturned before the move can even be implemented.

House Bill 521 by Johnson and Hoffman has been reported out of committee and is scheduled to be taken up for debate before the full House tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). Simply put, the bill would amend Act 866 by Martiny, effectively negating that action, and allow the board to remain in either New Orleans or Jefferson Parish.

Hoffman has received $3000 from the Louisiana Dental Political Action Committee since 2011, $500 from Appel Dental, LLC in 2007, and an additional $500 from two individual dentists in 2007 and 2011.

Johnson, meanwhile, has received $6,250 from the Louisiana Dental PAC since 2011, and $500 from the Kid’s Dental Zone of Alexandria, LLC in 2015. He also received $500 each from the same two individual dentists as Hoffman.

We have documented several cases of the board’s heavy-handedness in dealing with dentists, its unscrupulous investigative methods, its dictatorial dealings with dentists and its exorbitant system of fines imposed in order to pay the rent on its office space and to pay its contract private investigator and attorney. We have also written about the legal troubles of that investigator.

Perhaps legislators might like to refresh their memories about the board before they vote on Wednesday. Here are links to just a few of our stories:

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/03/18/like-dental-board-louisiana-board-of-medical-examiners-survives-on-fines-and-incentive-to-punish/

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/04/16/13976/

https://louisianavoice.com/2016/07/07/dentistry-board-member-was-witness-in-earlier-case-now-he-also-decides-insurance-claims-benefits-paid-to-other-dentists/

https://louisianavoice.com/2015/04/15/remarks-by-former-head-of-state-dentistry-board-on-suit-dismissal-reopens-louisianavoice-investigation-of-tactics/

https://louisianavoice.com/2014/03/23/appeal-court-slams-lsdb-tactics-in-reversing-kangaroo-court-license-revocation-board-attorney-rules-on-his-own-objection/

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More than a century ago, in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt, after a break with his friend and successor to the presidency, sought a then-unprecedented third term after a four-year absence from the political arena. In the process, he challenged Republican William Howard Taft’s re-election. Both men would ultimately lose to Woodrow Wilson.

But it was something that Roosevelt said in seeking to wrest the Republican nomination from Taft before breaking away to form the short-lived Bull Moose Party that resonates as clearly today as it did 105 years ago.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 750-page book The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Gold Age of Journalism is a great read and was a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that chronicles the close friendship between the two men, the exposés of several top magazine writers of the day, and the eventual split between Roosevelt and Taft.

Roosevelt who earned the title of trustbuster during his seven years in office (he succeeded William McKinley, who was assassinated in his first year in office), took on the meat packing industry, big oil, the railroads, and Wall Street banks in an effort to stem what he considered an alarming trend toward consolidation, mergers and monopolistic practices. He railed against the grossly unsanitary meat packing plants as exposed in Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, and he championed the economic plight of the working poor.

He also opposed child labor and fought for an eight-hour work day for women, for women’s right to vote, for worker protection, and for worker retirement benefits—ideas considered radical in his day but accepted today as the norm.

In 1912, he continued his onslaught, Kearns-Goodwin wrote, again taking on the special interests when while acknowledging that “every special interest is entitled to justice,” he said “not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office.”

He advocated driving the “special interests out of politics” by enacting laws to forbid corporations from directly funding political objectives.

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? Does it sound as though he might have opposed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision?

Fast forward to 2017 and the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges did a masterful job in a Wednesday STORY that illustrated just how the tail wags the dog when it comes down to attempts to come up with a revenue plan that makes sense when the interests of big business and industry are pitted against those of the citizens of this state.

In his story, Bridges reported how the Republican-dominated legislature was so overtly beholden to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) that even one of its own, Republican State Rep. Kenny Havard of St. Francisville, was appalled and embarrassed—and said so.

Please understand that I am in no way defending or condemning the tax plan put forth by Gov. John Bel Edwards but suffice it to say the business-oriented mindset of lawmakers were going to see to it that nothing that cost business a red nickel was going to pass even if it meant Louisiana households were going to be saddled with higher taxes—and because of the actions of the House Ways and Means Committee, they now will be.

Bridges did one of the best jobs ever in revealing how legislators simply lack the courage, principles, integrity, honesty and, yes, the stones, to turn their backs on campaign contributions and other perks in order to do the right thing.

Too weak-willed to resist the temptation when the think no one is looking, they would rather accept campaign contributions and expensive dinners than to say, “No thanks, I would rather look out for the interests of my constituents.”

Those campaign contributions come from various corporate entities and from corporate officers of countless corporations from both within and outside the state and they are poured into the campaigns of lawmakers for one reason: to buy votes. To claim otherwise would be to be disingenuous, deceptive, and hypocritical.

And just to make sure they get the message, hordes of lobbyists descend on the Capitol like so many swarms of locusts every spring. They are there to remind representatives and senators, lest they have momentary memory lapses, how to vote on any number of bills where there might be a conflict between responsible legislation and the status quo of political favoritism. That’s why on any given night during the legislative session, you can find lawmakers dining at Baton Rouge’s finest restaurants, courtesy of the hundreds of lobbyists who, in turn, feast on the carcasses of bloated legislators. If not restaurant fare, there are always the crawfish boils in the parking lot of the Pentagon Barracks across the street from the Capitol.

The committee not only rejected Edwards’ tax plan but also that of a special blue-ribbon that examined the state’s tax code last year and made recommendations based on its findings.

Bridges quoted Havard, who said, ““If we don’t have the courage to do it now, for God’s sakes… let’s just keep what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years. Isn’t that the definition of insanity—keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? We’re not going to get different results. The only mistake I made was thinking you could make change … The whole system is set up against change.”

So now, Louisiana businesses and industries will continue to enjoy the same tax breaks, exemptions and credits perpetuated for years and ramped up by Bobby Jindal. Meanwhile, the burden, as always, will fall onto the backs of middle class Louisianans.

And the legislature will continue its annual struggle with the budget and the state will keep right on lurching down the road trying to contend with midyear cutbacks as revenue shortfalls continue and roads and bridges and physical facilities at colleges and universities fall farther and farther behind on desperately needed maintenance and as governmental services to the developmentally disadvantaged and the mentally ill continue to be cut—all so business and industry may never be called upon to help shoulder its share of the burden—and so the legislative perks may continue unabated.

Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War Simon Cameron would love Louisiana politics. It was Cameron who said, “An honest politician is one who, when bought, stays bought.”

Well, you can rest easy tonight in the knowledge that, by that measure, we have one of the most honest legislatures in the nation. They stayed bought and they will continue to reap campaign contributions and they will continue to shove expensive food and liquor down their gullets, courtesy of the special interests, namely LABI and its members.

Voting in favor of the bill by Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, were Reps. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond; Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans; Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans; Robert Johnson, D-Marksville; Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; Ted James, D-Baton Rouge; and Major Thibaut, D-New Roads.

And, oh, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the names of those who killed Shadoin’s bill in order to keep corporate taxes down and your taxes high (and to allow themselves to continue receiving corporate campaign funds and to keep eating at Ruth’s Chris and Sullivan’s Restaurants, compliments of the lobbyist at the end of the table) were:

  • Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport (seabaugha@legis.la.gov);
  • Barry Ivey, R-Central (iveyb@legis.la.gov);
  • John “Jay” Morris, R-Monroe (morrisjc@legis.la.gov);
  • Jim Morris, R-Oil City (larep001@legis.la.gov);
  • Dodie Horton, R-Haughton (hortond@legis.la.gov);
  • Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge davisp@legis.la.gov);
  • Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzalez (schexnayderc@legis.la.gov);
  • Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice (devillierp@legis.la.gov);
  • Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles (dwights@legis.la.gov);
  • Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge (huvalm@legis.la.gov);
  • Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, candidate for State Treasurer (stokesj@legis.la.gov).

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To get past those cute but misleading TV ads, and arrive at a better understanding of just how the insurance industry really works, you need to understand first, that insurance companies are in the business to make money for their stockholders.

That’s it. There is no second. The policyholder is never taken into consideration when there is a claim. The mindset for the insurance company, no matter what name or logo is on its letterhead, is driven by one overriding question: How can we get out of this obligation with the least cost to shareholders?

It matters not one whit whether it is life, property & casualty, auto, or health insurance. The company’s very purpose for existing is not to see that policyholders are made whole but how the payout on claims may be minimized so as to inflict the least monetary damage to the company’s bottom line.

Do you think that life insurance claim that was slow paying off was simply to investigate whether or not the beneficiary had a part in the insured’s death? While that may be a part of it, particularly in cases of suspicious circumstances (such as falling off a cliff during a hike in Bryce Canyon), there may well be other factors involved, such as delaying payment as long as possible in order to accrue as much return on the investment of premiums as possible.

You didn’t really think the companies just leave that money lying around waiting for the insured to die, did you? No, it’s invested heavily in all sorts of things in order to earn money for the company.  https://www.paxforpeace.nl/stay-informed/news/insurers-invest-nearly-7-billion-in-controversial-arms-trade

And it’s your money they do it with.

Did you ever wonder why your auto insurance company would suggest a particular body shop for repairs to your car after an accident? Why not the body shop of the dealer from whom the car was purchased? It could be—and often is—because the recommended body shop uses what is called “after-market” parts for repairs. That means the parts are generally inferior to those of the dealership’s original parts and can diminish the resale value of your vehicle. Did you ever notice that after repairs at some of those shops, the quarter panel replacement no longer fits flush with the original undamaged part of your car? Or you have air leaks (or worse, water leaks) around the replacement door that weren’t there before? That would be the likely result of after-market parts. http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2015/02/12/anderson-cooper-360-piece-attacks-insurers-for-steering-parts-video/

You’re not happy, but your insurance company is ecstatic. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/05/08/insurers-auto-repair-tactics-only-part-of-problem-jindal-old-firm-mckinsey-co-coached-katrina-on-claims-delays-denials/

And who hasn’t experienced battles with health insurance companies that refused to cover a certain type of treatment because it’s considered “experimental.” Now, because of changes in the Office of Group Benefits instituted by the Jindal administration, state retirees who move out of state may find themselves no longer covered because their physicians are “out of network,” meaning they are non-participants in OGB’s coverage plan. Sorry, we don’t have any doctors in Arkansas or Mississippi who are part of the plan. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/08/25/louisianavoice-learns-of-jindal-plan-to-force-state-retirees-out-of-ogb-by-raising-members-premiums-cutting-benefits/

But by far, the most subtle method of claim manipulation is in the property & casualty field, namely your homeowners and flood insurance programs.

As we wrote in April, insurers will prepare repair estimates at two costs, depending on whether the damage to a home was caused by wind or flood. Repair estimates generally run much less on wind damage claims than for floods—even though the same material is used on each claim.

That is because the companies themselves are on the hook for any wind damage while flood damage, if covered at all, is the responsibility of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), claims for which are paid by the federal government, i.e. taxpayers.

But that’s not to say Allstate is averse to handling flood claims. Quite the contrary. Allstate, in fact, has had an arrangement with NFIP under which NFIP Allstate is paid for handling flood claims.

Accordingly, if Allstate found itself on the hook for wind damages, it would use a lower formula for paying claimants but if it determined the damages were caused by flooding, a second, more expensive separate formula would be employed.

In one example we found, damage was determined to be from wind and Allstate paid 83 cents per square foot for removal and replacement of drywall (sheetrock). In another claim from the same storm and in the same part of the state, it was determined to be flood damage and that same dry wall removal and replacement—paid for by American taxpayers—was $1.53 per square foot, a difference of 70 cents per square foot. Painting that drywall cost Allstate 35 cents per square foot for the wind-damage claim but cost NFIP (taxpayers) 58 cents per square foot for the flood damage claim.

That was not an anomaly. In comparing two 2011 claims from Tropical Storm Lee in southwest Louisiana, LouisianaVoice found that damage to one home was determined to be from wind. The cost of removing and replacing drywall (sheetrock) was estimated at $1.75 per square foot and painting of the drywall was estimated at 55 cents per square foot. That, of course was the cost to the insurance company, in this case, Colonial.

A second claim only a few miles away, also the result of Lee, was also for a home covered by Colonial. In this case, the damaged was determined to be the result of flooding, so the claim now belonged to NFIP. The estimate to remove and repair drywall for this home was $2.47 per square foot and the cost of painting that same drywall was estimated at 87 cents per square foot.

Assuming an area of 1000 square feet, you’re looking at a cost differential of $720 for removal and replacement of the drywall and a difference of $320 for painting, or an overall cost increase of $1,040 for repairs to a flood-damaged home compared to the wind-damaged structure.

By the time, other costs are factored in—costs for such things as replacing and painting molding, baseboards, doors and door frames, replacing electrical outlets and door hardware, removing and replacing windows and window trim, painting window frames, replacement of carpeting and/or wood flooring, the difference between a wind and a flood claim can be enormous.

And that doesn’t even include one other factor that goes into all estimates—overhead and profit (O&P) for the contractor. There has to be a profit for the contractor. That’s understandable; no one would expect him to repair your house for nothing.

But like the repairs themselves, the percentage of overhead and profit has a wide variance, depending on whether or not the damage is determined to be from wind or flooding.

LouisianaVoice has obtained three boxes of claims documents that not only reflect damning evidence of NFIP gouging on the costs of specific repairs, but in the allowance for contractor O&P, as well.

Built-in allowances for O&P for wind claims paid by the individual companies range around 20-29 percent. But for flood claims, paid by the American taxpayer through the NFIP, that O&P can range from 48 to 51 percent, according to documents in our possession.

For example, going back to 2005, O&P for one wind-damage claim was estimated at 28 percent for a Mississippi wind claim from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. But flood damage from the same hurricane resulted in contractor O&P of 51 percent. Both estimates were done by Allstate.

Wind damage from Hurricane Ida in Texas in 2009 resulted in a claim in which contractor O&P was 29 percent, according to Allstate damage estimates. But when damage from that same storm was determined to be from flooding, the contractor O&P shot up quickly, to 49 percent, Allstate documents show.

But Allstate and Colonial were not the only practitioners of such claim manipulation—not by a long shot. Here’s a story about how the game was played in the same manner by STATE FARM.

Project these tactics over a large, densely-populated area like that destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and at least one estimate of the increased cost from “padding” both specific damages and contractor overhead and profit has taxpayers in the two states being ripped off to the tune of approximately $10 billion.

And while strict insurance fraud laws are on the books that could result in a prison sentence if you so much as included a non-existent flat screen television on your claim, there apparently is no one minding the store to guard against raping the taxpayer-funded NFIP.

And as long as the insurance companies continue to pour money into the campaign coffers of members of Congress, state legislators and regulators, you can be sure there will never be.

Perfect.

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As a recovering Republican, I feel I am in a unique position to suggest that all political party labels be abandoned in favor of candidates representing constituents as opposed to clinging stubbornly to the blind loyalty of some group of adherents referring to themselves as Democrat, Republican or Libertarian.

Civilized countries like Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom have no legal political parties (although the media sometimes mistakenly refer to opposition groups as “parties”). If it’s good enough for them, it should suffice for us.

For once, I’d like to see a politician who is defined not by some label but by his own core beliefs and principles, formed independently and absent the dictates of a so-called “party” which is supported by special interests who dictate the philosophy of its labeled and packaged candidates.

I would much prefer to vote for someone because of he or she actually stands for something rather than putting party loyalty above all else. President Teddy Roosevelt had the political courage to stand up to his own Republican Party and demand corporate health regulations and to fight monopolistic trusts. Somehow, that courage has evaporated in the interest of party unity which, of course, encourages a more reliable flow of campaign contributions from the vested interests.

I don’t say this as a way of placing my intellect above that of my contemporaries (God knows that would be a foolish assumption on my part) but the two major parties in this country—all the way down to our petulant legislature—long ago arrived at loggerheads with each other to the detriment of those who put them in office.

It’s more than a little sickening to watch. Besides, we already have The Jerry Springer Show.

In a recent discussion with an old friend and long-time political observer, he noted that Democrats as a group refuse to accept anything proposed by Republicans and Republicans as a group counter in kind. Can anyone really wonder that Congress has a lower approval rating than porta-potty cleaner-uppers? (Coincidentally, it might be worth mentioning that the longer Congress is in session, the greater the demand for porta-potty cleaner-uppers.)

My friend, who spent his career in state government, confided in me that he promised himself long ago that if he ever became jaded with his job, he would retire. He is now retired.

So, why don’t we just be honest with ourselves and admit that our political system no longer functions as a two-party, give-and-take forum? When you had someone like Sam Rayburn as Speaker of the House, things got done in Congress even though there was Republican opposition. That’s because while there was opposition, the two sides left room for compromise. With Newt Gingrich, we instead got a governmental shutdown. (Rayburn, the longest-serving House speaker in history, by the way, died broke while our own Bobby Jindal, by contrast, became a multi-millionaire during his three years in Congress.)

Elected office is no longer considered a public service; it is instead, an avocation in and of itself, a stepping stone to the next move up. Witness the shameless pursuit of the presidency by Jindal and the equally self-serving ambition of Attorney General Jeff Landry, U.S. Rep. Garrett Graves and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy to oust John Bel Edwards as governor. Accordingly, you will not hear the first utterance by Landry, Graves or Kennedy in support of anything proposed by Edwards.

Likewise, should Donald Trump ever say or propose anything with a scintilla of original thought or meaningful purpose, you will never hear Nancy Pelosi or any other Democrat speak out in support. That just isn’t done any more. There’s no civility in politics, no room for compromise.

Witness the banal, hackneyed behavior of the Louisiana Legislature, particularly over the past 10, 20, 30 years.

Because the state has systematically failed to pay its mandated share into the state retirement system, we’re now saddled with an insurmountable unfunded liability in each of the state retirement systems.

For decades, taxpayers of Livingston, Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes have been paying a millage to construct the Comite River Diversion Canal project to prevent flooding. The project is no nearer completion today than it was 25 years ago and we have the delays to thank, at least in part, for that horrendous flood of last August. And now guess what? After pissing away the monies that were supposed to have gone to flood control with those millage collections, some legislators, in their collective buffoonery, now want to snatch nearly $200 million from federal monies intended for flood victims to use instead for flood control.

It’s almost like gasoline taxes that were supposed to have gone to repair our roads and bridges and the revenue from gaming that was supposed to fund public education. Of course, as soon as those gaming funds were approved, the legislature jerked an identical amount from other funding, the Support Education in Louisiana First Fund, and the result for public education was another version of the old shell game. Now you see it, not you don’t.

Fast forward to the Jindal years when state employees suddenly found themselves going six years on end without a pay raise. Now those Jindal years have spilled over into the Edwards years and those same legislators are still playing a game called kick the financial can down the road and state employees are still falling further and further behind the inflationary curve. Prices are up, health insurance is up, but salaries remain stagnant—with the exception of State Police (not to be confused with Department of Public Safety officers who undergo the same training but have not enjoyed the 30 percent pay raise received by State Troopers).

And now, House Bill 302 by House majority leader Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) would assess parolees an additional $37 fee per month (from $63 to $100), the money to be used to fund a pay increase for parole officers. As has become almost a ritual, the vote was split along party lines.

It’s really a beautiful thing to watch these guys cherry pick their personal little projects—like Harris’s fee assessment. I’m sure the rest of Louisiana’s civil service employees are applauding his magnanimous gesture toward the beleaguered parole officers.

Not to diminish the seriousness of their plight, but parole officers aren’t the only state civil service employees who are hurting. And Harris is not the only member of the legislature who is completely out of touch with the daily struggles of state employees, many of whom were victims of last year’s floods.

This is serious business and Harris and his colleagues should get together and try to figure out how the state’s fiscal problems can be addressed without the same old tired political rhetoric spouted along party lines. It’s time for compromise and hard decisions and the legislature, as a body, is not showing any inclination of making those hard decisions.

The governor’s plan is not perfect—far from it. But neither is the continued petty bickering of the legislature getting anything done. You’re not being paid to come to Baton Rouge to participate in some kind of elementary school blame game. You were sent here to solve problems and put this state back on sound financial footing.

Instead, you plaster an “R” or a “D” to your respective foreheads and start squawking like a couple of tomcats in a dark alley—even as you hold out your hands for political contributions from the special interests who pay you to just keep squawking like you always have.

A hint: We can see you and we can hear you and you’re not impressing anyone.

Drop the party labels and declare yourselves not as Republican or Democrat but as Louisianans.

Do the right thing. Do your jobs.

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Legislators continue to whistle past the fiscal graveyard as the state’s highways and bridges are crumbling, public education is starving, state workers are looking at yet another year without a raise, the unfunded liabilities of the state’s retirement systems continue to grow and colleges and universities are looking at the hopeless abyss of $1.7 billion in deferred maintenance of physical plant. (A school-by-school breakdown of that deferred maintenance at the state’s higher education institutions can be found HERE in the latest post of ulyankee.)

Like a spoiled child who refuses to listen to parents who are equally reluctant to discipline him, the Legislature continues to play the artful dodger in meeting its fiduciary responsibilities. As pitiful a governor as Bobby Jindal was, he only did what the House and Senate allowed him to do. And while all those corporate tax breaks looked great to LABI, ALEC, lobbyists, and the generous corporate campaign contributors, they did little to prop up the economic structure of the state or to meet the responsibilities for education, roads, services for the mentally ill, children’s services, state employees, teachers, the sick and the state’s low-income citizens.

And now, with a real opportunity to do something about the myriad of problems, it appears legislators will again punt by categorically rejecting any progressive legislation while rolling over for their corporate donors.

It would be one thing to resist the administration’s less than confidence-inspiring proposals if an alternative, workable plan were offered up. But when is the last time anyone has seen that coming from either chamber? (Hint: Never.)

When a baseball or football team performs as miserably, it’s always the coach who’s fired—because it’s impractical to fire the entire team. When the legislature fails to do its job, it’s the governor who’s thrown under the bus for the failure to accomplish anything toward solving the problems.

But that’s not to say the legislature has been standing idly by. For from it. The 2017 legislative session has thus far turned in a bona fide commend performance for Louisiana’s senators and representatives who apparently never saw someone or something to commend they didn’t like or, lacking that, to seize the opportunity to designate some special day.

Here’s a partial example of what your elected representatives and senators have accomplished 17 days into the 60-day session:

  • SB 29 (ALARIO): Recognizes April 19, 2017, as University of Louisiana System Day at the Louisiana Legislature.
  • SB 23 (ALARIO): Designates the new bridge across Goose Bayou on LA 45 in Jefferson Parish as the “Jules Nunez Bridge”
  • HCR 44 (AMADEE): Commends the Louisiana State University at Alexandria men’s basketball team for its outstanding achievements in its first three seasons
  • HR 32 (BARRAS): Designates Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as LSU Day at the state capitol
  • HR 48 (BARRAS): Recognizes Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as University of Louisiana System day at the state capitol (Sorry, dude, Alario beat you to it.)
  • HR 60 (BARRAS):  Designates Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as Liquefied Natural Gas Day at the state capitol (We already have too much hot air at the Capitol, why do we need gas, too?)
  • SCR 6 (BARROW): Designates Tuesday, April 11, 2017, as AKA Day at the capitol.
  • SR 11 (BARROW): Commends Tiffany Dickerson on her reign as Mrs. Baton Rouge 2016.
  • SR 12 (BARROW): Commends Tanya Crowe on her reign as Miss Baton Rouge USA 2016
  • SR 13 (BARROW): Commends Kimberly Maria Ducote on her reign as Miss Teen Baton Rouge USA 2016.
  • SR 14 (BARROW): Commends Brittany Arbor Shipp on winning the 2016 Mrs. Louisiana America Pageant.
  • SR 16 (BARROW): Commends Stacey Richard on her accomplishments and contributions as executive director of the Mrs. Louisiana Pageant, the Miss Baton Rouge Pageant, and the Miss Capital City Pageant.
  • HCR 39 (BERTHELOT): Designates Wednesday, May 3, 2017, as LMA Municipal Day at the state capitol
  • SR 47 (WESLEY BISHIP):  Commends XS Martial Arts Dojo and Save One Now for presenting the 10th Annual Crescent City Kumite being held on May 20, 2017. (Whatever.)
  • SCRs 21-24 (BOUDREAUX): Commends Marion Overton White, Clifton Lemelle Sr., Gloria Nye, PhD, and Patrick Fontenot for their induction into the St. Landry Parish Democratic Party Hall of Fame.
  • HR 22 (BROADWATER): Commends the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Association and designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as LATA Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 50 (CARMODY): Recognizes May 2017 as Building Safety Month
  • HR 29, 30 (CARPENTER): Recognizes Tuesday, April 18, 2017, asPhi Beta Sigma & Zeta Phi Beta Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 41 (GARY CARTER): Commends several Tulane University students upon winning NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge competition (is that the way the commendation reads: “several Tulane students”?)
  • HB 297 (ROBBY CARTER):  Provides relative to membership on the Sweet Potato Advertising and Development Commission (More proof we have too damn many board and commissions.)
  • SR 26 (TROY CARTER): Recognizes April 23, 2017, as International Children’s Day.
  • SR 59 (CHABERT): Recognizes April 27, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors Day at the Louisiana State Capitol.
  • SR 9 (CLAITOR): Designates April 17, 2017, as Kappa Beta Delta Day.
  • SCR 44 (COLOMB): Commends the Public Administration Institute Student Association (PAISA) at Louisiana State University and recognizes April 13, 2017, as the 19th annual PAISA Day at the Louisiana Legislature.
  • HCR 22 (COUSSAN): Commends the St. Thomas More Catholic High School football team on winning the 2016 Division II state championship
  • HR 37 (COX): Commends William Hymes on his significant accomplishments
  • HR 33 (DAVIS): Commends LSU Physicist Gabriela Gonzalez for her work in a groundbreaking scientific discovery (again: does the commendation say simply for “a groundbreaking scientific discovery”?)
  • HR 31 (DEVILLIER): Commends Louisiana State University Eunice for its efforts to offer more educational opportunities for the state’s residents (Isn’t that why it exists? So we commend institutions for doing their job now?)
  • HCR 23 (DWIGHT): Commends the South Beauregard girls’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class 3A state championship
  • HCR 5 (EMERSON): Amends and repeals administrative licensing requirements relative to alternative hair and alternative hair design (Your guess is as good as ours).
  • HR 27 (FOIL): Designates Monday, April 17, 2017, as DASH Diet Day at the state capitol (If this will help rid the capitol of all those fat cats down there, I’m all for it.)
  • HR 34 (FRANKLIN): Commends Shelton Dunaway for his musical achievements and recognizes him as a southwest La. cultural treasure (For those who might not know, he was a member of Cookie and the Cupcakes that had the wonder song Matilda.)
  • HB 612 (GLOVER): Provides for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment (This from a man who, while mayor of Shreveport, told a person that once an officer pulls him over, he has no rights.)
  • HB 191 (GUINN): Changes the name of the “Quail Unlimited” prestige license plate to the “Quail Forever” prestige license plate (Sigh.)
  • HB 243 (HALL): Changes “school bus driver” to “school bus operator” in Title 17 (Please tell us this is a joke.)
  • HCR 40 (HALL): Commends Peabody Magnet High School boys’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class 3A state championship
  • HCR 20 (HENSGENS): Commends the Gueydan High School girls’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class A state championship
  • SCR 17 (HEWITT): Commends the Slidell Republican Women’s Club on its 50th anniversary.
  • SCR 20 (HEWITT): Designates the first week of December as Shop Local Artists Week in Louisiana.
  • SR 37 (HEWITT): Recognizes the Junior Auxiliary of Slidell and designates April 2-8, 2017, as “Junior Auxiliary Week” at the Louisiana Senate.
  • HR 4 (HOFFMAN): Recognizes April 11, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Anesthesiologists Day at the state capitol
  • HB 214 (HORTON):  Prohibits the roadside sale of domestic rabbits (Seriously?)
  • HR 56 (HUNTER): Recognizes Wednesday, May 3, 2017, as Omega Psi Phi Day at the state capitol
  • HR 21 (HUVAL): Recognizes Monday, May 15, 2017, as I-49 South Day at the state capitol
  • HR 67 (HUVAL): Commends the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and designates Thursday, April 27, 2017, as Crawfish Festival Day at the state capitol
  • HR 9 (JAMES): Commends Kimberly Maria Ducote of Mansura on being named Miss Teen Baton Rouge USA
  • HR 10 (JAMES): Commends Tanya Crowe of Amite on being named Miss Baton Rouge USA
  • HR 11 (JAMES):  Commends Tiffany Dickerson on being named Mrs. Baton Rouge
  • HR 12 (JAMES): Commends Brittany Arbor Shipp on being named Mrs. Louisiana America of Baton Rouge
  • HR 13 (JAMES): Commends Stacey Richard, executive director for the Miss Baton Rouge and the Mrs. Louisiana America pageant organizations
  • HR 44 (JEFFERSON): Commends Coach Eric Dooley of Grambling State University for being named the American Football Coaches Association Football Championship Subdivision Assistant Coach of the Year
  • HR 52 (JEFFERSON): Commends Grambling State University for winning the 2016 Southwestern Athletic Conference Football Championship and the 2016 Historically Black College and University National Football Championship
  • HCR 33 (JENKINS): Commends Dr. G. E. Ghali for his leadership as chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport
  • SCR 10 (JOHNS): Recognizes May 3, 2017, as Purple and Teal Day in the state of Louisiana.
  • SR 44 (JOHNS): Recognizes Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as the fifth annual Liquefied Natural Gas Day at the state capitol
  • HR 28 (JORDAN): Commends ExxonMobil and recognizes April 17, 2017, as ExxonMobil Day at the Louisiana State Capitol
  • SR 42 (LAFLEUR): Designates Monday, April 24, 2017, as Tourism Day at the state capitol.
  • HCR 42 (TERRY LANDRY): Commends Mt. Calvary Baptist Church of New Iberia on its one hundred forty-second anniversary
  • HR 36 (LEBAS): Commends the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association and designates Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as Louisiana Physical Therapy Association Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 25 (LEGER): Recognizes Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as Louisiana A+ Schools Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 29 (LEGER): Designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as New Orleans Day at the legislature
  • HR 17 (LEOPOLD): Designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as Plaquemines Parish Day at the state capitol
  • HR 50 (LEOPOLD): Commends the organizers and volunteers of the 2017 Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival, Orange Queen, and Teen Orange Queen
  • HR 51 (LEOPOLD): Commends the organizers and volunteers of the 2017 Plaquemines Parish Heritage and Seafood Festival and its Seafood Queen (Oranges and seafood; what a combination!)
  • HR 61 (MAGEE): Designates Thursday, April 27, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 43 (DUSTIN MILLER): Recognizes the week of May 6 through 12, 2017, as National Nurses Week in Louisiana
  • SR 4 (MILLS): Recognizes April 11, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Anesthesiologists Day at the state capitol. (Didn’t Hoffman already that, too? You guys really should communicate more.)
  • SR 25 (MILLS):  Commends the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association for its outstanding achievements and recognizes Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as Louisiana Physical Therapy Association Day.
  • SCR 23 (MIZELL): Declares May 26, 2017, as John Wayne Day at the Legislature. (Well, pilgrim…..I’m mighty obliged to ya.)
  • SR 19 (MIZELL): Commends the Loranger High School cheerleading team on winning the National Championship.
  • HR 58 (MORENO): Designates Monday, April 24, 2017, as Tourism Day at the state capitol
  • HR 71 (JIM MORRIS): Commends Vivian United Methodist Church upon the celebration of its one hundred thirteenth anniversary (and next year, we’ll commend it on its 114th.)
  • SR 10 (MORRISH): Designates November 2017 as School Psychologist Awareness Month.
  • SCR 7 (PEACOCK): Commends Fairfield Elementary Magnet School of Shreveport on receipt of the 2016-2018 National Parent Teacher Association School of Excellence Award.
  • SCR 33 (PEACOCK): Designates May 17, 2017, as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day. (If ANYONE knows what DIPG is….don’t tell us. We’ll wait until May 17.)
  • HR 66 (PRICE): Commends the White Castle High School boys’ basketball team upon winning the Class 1A State Championship
  • HR 20 (PUGH):  Designates Tuesday, May 23, 2017, as Elmer’s Candy Day
  • HR 8 (SCHEXNAYDER): Commends the athletes and coaches of the Lutcher High School girls’ powerlifting team upon winning the 2017 Division III state championship
  • HR 42 (SCHEXNAYDER): Commends the Riverside Academy football team upon winning the 2016 Division III state championship
  • HR 49 (SCHEXNAYDER):  Commends the Lutcher High School Bulldogs football team upon winning the 2016 Class 3A state championship
  • SCR 28 (GARY SMITH): Commends Cara Ursin on winning the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award for Girls’ Basketball three times.
  • SCR 29 (GARY SMITH): Commends the Destrehan High School Lady Cats on winning the LHSAA Class 5A state girls’ basketball championship.
  • HR 2 (PATRICIA SMITH HAYNES): Designates Tuesday, April 11, 2017, as AKA day at the state capitol
  • SR 18 (THOMPSON): Designates April 27, 2017, as FFA Day at the Louisiana State Capitol and commends the state officers of the Louisiana FFA Association.
  • SR 6 (WALSWORTH):  Designates April 12, 2017, as Y Day in Louisiana. (Why Y?)

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