Tense moment arises during debate

An off-hand comment by a north Louisiana legislator caused a tense moment during Wednesday’s debate over gun rights legislation.

State Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, opposed legislation aimed at preventing enforcement of any federal restrictions on possession of semi-automatic weapons.

Burrell noted that Louisiana once committed slavery.

“There’s a federal law that prohibits that,” Burrell said. “These are federal and state relationships where the federal government has to intervene in the process.”

Bill sponsor state Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, said he would be right there protecting Burrell if anyone tried to impose slavery in the state.

Burrell responded that Morris might but he wasn’t so sure about bill co-sponsor state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City, which brought a protest from Thompson.

“You just interjected into this discussion a personal insult to me,” Thompson said, calling slavery “a blight on this nation.”

“My intent was to talk about the relationship between federal and state law,” Burrell said, adding it was not aimed as a personal insult.

Thompson accepted the explanation.

Jindal declares hisopposition to NCLB

Gov. Bobby Jindal, a former congressman, said he would oppose extension of the federal “No Child Left Behind Act,” which is aimed at improving student achievement.

“I am not a big fan of NCLB,” Jindal said. “It has become too bureaucratic.”

Tatman asked aboutchildren’s school

During a hearing on a plan to create a new school district in southeast Baton Rouge, the president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, who opposes the legislation, was asked where his children attend school

David Tatman, president of the panel, said his children attend LSU, St. Joseph’s Academy and St. George School.

Tatman said his family opted for private schools because of religious faith.

State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, and sponsor of the plan, asked the question.

Domoine Rutledge, general counsel for the school district, called the inquiry inappropriate.

Status of Revenue position challenged

State Sen. Karen Peterson took the Senate floor Thursday to accuse Gov. Bobby Jindal of playing games with cabinet positions.

Peterson, D-New Orleans and head of the state Democratic Party, complained that the state Department of Revenue lacks a secretary under Jindal’s leadership.

The department’s former secretary, Cynthia Bridges, resigned last summer after the governor disagreed with the way she handled rules governing a tax credit that threatened to explode into a financial drain on the state.

The governor’s former executive counsel, Tim Barfield, later joined the revenue department at a roughly $250,000 annual salary, which was more than double what Bridges made.

Barfield’s title is executive counsel because his salary is out of bounds with what legislators agreed to pay the department’s secretary in the current year’s budget.

“In the middle of a fiscal session, it would be nice to have a secretary of revenue,” Peterson said. “The constitution actually provides that we should have a secretary of revenue.”

Douglas Baker, communications director for the revenue department, said Friday that Barfield will assume the title of secretary when the new budget year starts on July 1. He said Barfield’s appointment will be offered for state Senate confirmation this session.

Administrationmoves irk Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy accused the Jindal administration of going “cowboy” Tuesday.

Kennedy continues to be at odds with the administration over a program called ePayables.

Basically, the Jindal administration wants to make payments to vendors through credit transactions. Vendors would pay a fee for the convenience of not having to wait for the check to come in the mail. The state would receive a bonus payment based on the volume of vendor traffic.

Kennedy told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that he is uncomfortable with the proposal, which he feels might usurp his duties as state treasurer.

“They’ve just gone off on their own,” Kennedy said. “They’re ready to sign the contract.”

Kennedy later apologized for his enthusiasm, explaining he had a little too much coffee that morning.

Dorsey-Colomb receives compliment

State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb arrived late for a committee meeting Wednesday and got a compliment.

Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, explained to members of the state Senate Committee on Health and Welfare that a constituent stopped her to discuss the governor’s tax plan, making her late for debate on her sickle cell commission bill.

She apologized, adding that she always makes time for the constituents who sent her to the State Capitol.

Committee chairman David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, listened to her excuse and then complimented her red pantsuit.

“You look fantastic,” he said.

Condoleezza Rice reveals link to La.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a Louisiana connection.

“My father was born right here in Baton Rouge,” Rice told an education gathering here.

“He was an unyielding fan of the LSU Tigers,” she said.

Kleckley praises William Jenkins

At the same gathering, interim LSU President and Chancellor William Jenkins got a standing ovation sparked by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.

Kleckley noted that Jenkins came out of retirement in Texas to handle the twin jobs while leaders did a search for a new leader.

Jenkins took the job amid controversy and budget cuts to LSU and other colleges and universities.

“Whether he wants to or not, he and I have become very good friends over the past year,” Kleckley said.

Councils on Aging honors Harrison

State Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Napoleonville, was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Louisiana Councils on Aging.

The Councils on Aging work within each of Louisiana’s parishes to provide direct care and support for the 800,000 people who are aged.

“Rep. Harrison is a tireless champion of our citizens and has provided needed support, often while others have sought to abandon a generation that has contributed to so much of what we all enjoy today,” Diana Edmonson, director of the Terrebonne Parish Council on Aging, said in a prepared statement.

Medical problems sideline 3 senators

Three state senators missed all or part of last week’s legislative session because of medical problems.

State Sen. John Smith, R-Leesville, remained absent recovering from heart bypass surgery he had before the session’s start.

State Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, was in and out last week as he traveled to Houston to seek medical attention because of paralysis affecting one of his hands. LaFleur has had a degenerative disc problem and surgeries in the past, Senate communications director Brenda Hodge said. LaFleur was scheduled for surgery Friday to take care of the problem, according to Senate colleague Page Cortez, R-Lafayette.

State Sen. Mike Walworth, R-West Monroe, was back in the Senate on Thursday after “a bout with kidney stones,” Hodge said.

Legislators to play charity football game

Republican and Democratic legislators will play football Sunday at LSU’s Tiger Stadium to raise money for the state’s military families.

Tickets are $50 for adults and $10 for students. Children under age 12 get in free.

Called the “Truce for the Troops Bowl,” the event will support Operation Homefront, which provides emergency financial aid to military families.

Team captains — state Reps. Nick Lorusso and John Bel Edwards — have a meal riding on the game’s outcome.

Lorusso, R-New Orleans, will buy Edwards, D-Amite, a meal in New Orleans if Democrats win. If Republicans win, Lorusso gets a meal in Amite.

Ex-pastor to speakat Pachyderms event

Lecturer, teacher and former pastor John West will address the Thursday meeting of the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting will be at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, 3084 College Drive, Baton Rouge.

West has a 20-year career in the American oil industry and is part owner of a small Texas-based business serving the oil refining industry. His message links religion, world events and current administration policy.

Cost for the buffet is $13. Pachyderm meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. RSVP: (225) 644-5728 or email: info@pachydermsofgbr.org For more information, visit the Pachyderms on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PachydermsofGBR.

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