The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. is pulling together the information necessary to file a legal challenge to the Louisiana House’s redrawing of its 105 election districts, according to the head of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.
Caucus Chairwoman and state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said “Inc. Fund” representatives are expected to be in Louisiana next month “trying to identify some people in the (Shreveport) area who are willing to be plaintiffs.”
The potential challenge in federal court would be under Section 2 of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The section forbids practices that have the effect of depriving minority voters of an equal opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.
The U.S. Justice Department has already precleared the Louisiana House setting of the districts from which state representatives will be elected for the next decade, starting this fall. The approval amounts to a federal government opinion that the controversial removal from the plan of a 30th district, in which most voters are black, did not dilute black voting strength.
The Black Caucus argues that the federal courts should rule that the plan’s failure to include the 30th majority black district in the Shreveport area hurts minority voters.
Former legislators eye return to Senate
Two former state senators appear to be eyeing challenges to incumbent senators in fall elections.
Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins Sr., a Democrat, said he is considering a bid for his old Senate seat which is currently held by state Sen. Elbert Guillory, another Opelousas Democrat. Cravins served as a state senator from 1984 until 2006, when he won the mayor’s race.
Shreveport funeral home owner Greg Tarver has announced he will run against state Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport. Tarver, also a Democrat, served in the Senate from 1984 until 2004.
Meanwhile, Monroe businessman Harris Brown plans to challenge state Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe. Brown, a Republican, has a state Senate connection too — his father, lawyer Billy Brown, served in the upper chamber in the 1970s.
Jindal snubs Tucker in news releases
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s news releases about his signing two key higher education bills into law last week did not acknowledge House Speaker Jim Tucker, who played a key role in both measures.
Though the rift between the state’s two most powerful Republicans is well known around the State Capitol, the only time it has been mentioned “on the record” was during Tucker’s farewell speech to the House in June. Tucker quipped in passing that he had been the target of more coup attempts — orchestrated by the Jindal administration — than some South American leaders.
Tucker sponsored the LA
GRAD Act 2.0 legislation — House Bill 549 — that gives colleges more autonomy in exchange for additional accountability.
But Jindal’s 20-paragraph news release on the governor signing the measure into law did not once mention Tucker, R-Terrytown. Tucker did speak at the bill signing.
In the transfer of the University of New Orleans from the LSU System to the University of Louisiana System, Jindal signed the legislation by Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, and vetoed the nearly identical Tucker bill.
Jindal’s news release on that signing specifically credited and quoted Appel. It did not mention Tucker.
But Tucker said he agrees with Jindal’s veto of his version of the bill.
Tucker said his name is still on the GRAD Act 2.0 bill — if not the news release.
“It wouldn’t be fair to author both,” he said.
Commissioner Strain plans victory party
State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is planning a re-election victory party even though candidates have yet to throw their names in the hat for the Oct. 22 primary.
Qualifying is in early September for agriculture commissioner and other statewide elected posts.
Strain, who is seeking re-election, said he is unaware of any possible challengers.
He said he plans to throw a party Sept. 8, the last day of qualifying, at the Louisiana State Museum in downtown Baton Rouge.
“We’re going to have some fun,” Strain said.
He said the event — dubbed the Grand Political Party — begins at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
Press Club to hear about coastal issues
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive assistant for coastal activities, Garret Graves, will be the speaker for Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Graves is also chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Graves will discuss the challenge of preserving the state’s coast, marshlands, barrier islands and fisheries in the face of coastal erosion, hurricanes, oil spills, floods, man-made levees, rising sea levels, land subsidence, and global climate change.
Press Club meetings are at noon at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St., downtown Baton Rouge.
Lunch 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.
Attorney general speaks to GOP group
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is scheduled to speak Thursday at the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Roundtable.
The event takes place at Drusilla Seafood Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge, near where Interstate 12 crosses Jefferson Highway.
Lunch, which will begin at 12:10 p.m., costs $20.
Reservations are available by emailing EBRPGOP@aol.com.
Compiled by The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. Con
tact email address is email@example.com.