Jindal stops short of endorsement

Gov. Bobby Jindal considers Texas Gov. Rick Perry “a good neighbor,” but he’s not quite ready to back him for president.

Perry recently announced that he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Talking to WWL-TV, Jindal praised Perry, but withheld his endorsement.

“I haven’t backed anybody at this point,” Jindal told the New Orleans station. “But I will say there’s been a lot of attention about Gov. Perry. He’s been a good neighbor, a good governor next door who helped our state after Hurricane Gustav.”

Gautreaux knocks committee ruling

State Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, said he was disappointed that a legislative budget committee agreed to give the Jindal administration access to $14.9 million for economic development prospects.

Members of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget grudgingly agreed to let the administration use the money despite receiving little information on who the prospects are.

Gautreaux complained that legislators asked the right questions of the administration, but gave the green light anyway.

“Legislative leaders don’t exert their authority,” he said.

Construction list likely in October

Legislators will find out in October which new construction projects will move forward.

During their 2011 session, legislators approved more new projects than the state can afford to fund in the construction, or capital outlay, budget.

The Jindal administration is deciding how to divvy up $104 million among $124 million in funding requests.

Although the session ended in June, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Jones with the Division of Administration said Thursday that the ultimate list of what moves forward will not be completed until October.

Vitter gives support to Caldwell in race

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, of Louisiana, already is getting involved in legislative races in a bid to elect a more conservative body.

Now Vitter is wading into the state attorney general’s race by backing state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s re-election campaign.

Caldwell recently dropped his Democratic Party affiliation in favor of becoming a Republican. Former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao, of New Orleans, is raising money for a possible run against Caldwell. Cao is a Republican.

“Buddy is more than a public official … he’s a leader. As Attorney General, he’s consistently fought to protect Louisiana taxpayers and Louisiana families,” Vitter wrote supporters in an email. Vitter applauded Caldwell’s opposition to the new federal health plan.

Campbell: Rethink oilfield tax policy

Louisiana should rethink its oilfield taxation policy in view of the “the largest discovery ever in the Gulf of Mexico,” state Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, of Bossier Parish, wrote in an email last week. 

“This disclosure should finally force the oil lobbyists and their political supporters to stop saying the oil companies are leaving Louisiana,” said Campbell, citing the most frequent argument against “processing taxes” raised by opponents.  “We have the oil, refineries, pipelines, infrastructure and Mississippi River.  They’re not leaving until the oil is gone.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported that ExxonMobil last week sued the federal government in U.S. District Court in Lake Charles for refusing to extend a company lease over the “Julia” field in the Gulf.  The article said the company disclosed in court papers that the field was one of its “largest discoveries ever” with an estimated 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Campbell said the state should  tax the oil and gas  processed in Louisiana facilities, regardless of where it was produced. The proposal has long been floated in Louisiana politics. Campbell made it a cornerstone in his 2007 bid for governor. He came in fourth, polling 161,665 votes, or 12 percent of the total vote.

Teacher travels state in run for governor

Despite having little financial backing, Haynesville schoolteacher Tara Hollis is traveling the state in an effort to defeat Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s re-election bid.

Hollis, a Democrat, attended a recent forum held by the League of WoMen Voters of Baton Rouge.

She furiously scribbled notes as panelists discussed the Jindal administration’s possible privatization of a state employee health insurance plan.

The next day she was in Alexandria, speaking to the Louisiana Federation of Democratic Women’s Rapides Parish chapter.

The primary election is Oct. 22.

Port Allen principal to leave BESE post

John Bennett, of Port Allen, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said he plans to leave the board after this year.

Bennett is one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s three appointees to the panel, which sets policies for public schools statewide.

Bennett is principal of St. Aloysius Catholic School.

He is the representative for private and parochial schools on the board.

Legislature staffer honored with award

A Louisiana Legislature staffer was among 21 honored by professional organizations affiliated with the National Conference of State Legislatures, called NCSL.

Mechelle Miller is director of the Rural Caucus in the Louisiana House of Representatives. She received one of the Legislative Staff Achievement Awards during the NCSL’s 2011 Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

The NCSL is the bipartisan organization that provides research and technical assistance to legislators around the nation and their staffs.

Donelon to discuss killing of two agents

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is scheduled to address the Baton Rouge Press Club at noon Monday.

Donelon is to discuss a recent tragedy that took the lives of two insurance fraud investigators and how the agency is protecting such investigators while still enforcing the state’s insurance laws.

The Press Club meets on Mondays at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St., in downtown Baton Rouge. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for non-members.

The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and members of the news media are allowed to ask questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program.

Marionneaux slated to speak at meeting

State Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete, will be the featured guest Sept. 15 at a “Meet the Candidates” gathering hosted by the East Feliciana Democrats.

Marionneaux said through an aide Thursday that he expects to receive poll results this weekend that will determine whether he runs against Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal this fall.

The gathering will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 15 at Josephine’s Restaurant, 11302 Bank St., in Clinton.

Tickets are $30. For more information, call (225) 301-7752.

Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is mballard@theadvocate.com.