Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday that he does not expect legislators to reverse his planned veto of a state cigarette tax renewal.
Jindal opposes House Bill 591, which would renew 4 cents of the 36-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes and dedicate the funds to health care.
The 4 cents are scheduled to expire on June 30, 2012.
The bill won final legislative approval Thursday.
It would take 70 votes in the House to override the governor’s veto and 26 votes in the Senate.
“I don’t expect them to override me,” Jindal said.
Both chambers passed the legislation by a two-thirds vote or better.
House leaders seek to hurry decision
It could be June 20 before the Louisiana House knows the fate of its plan for redrawing its election district lines from the U.S. Justice Department, the House redistricting leader said late last week.
State Rep. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said the June 20 date came in a conversation with the analyst handling the House’s submission. “I’m hopeful and optimistic that that’s just a target date,” said Gallot.
The current legislative session ends June 23. If Justice finds problems, there would be no time to redraw the lines before session’s end if word comes June 20.
House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, said he plans a conference call with private attorneys next week to see if there is anything the House can do “to assist the Justice Department to come to a quicker conclusion.”
The Legislative Black Caucus has told Justice that the plan illegally dilutes black voting influence — an allegation that has been under Justice review.
If problems arise, Gallot said, there is “a very real possibility” that lawmakers may be back in a special legislative session so a plan can be adopted prior to candidate sign-up for fall elections.
Rep. Landry’s move takes the cake
State Rep. Nancy Landry showed up Thursday at the Senate Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works meeting carrying a slice of strawberry cake for the chairman, state Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth.
Other members of the panel began grilling McPherson on how it tasted and Landry on why she didn’t slip more slices out of a House lounge, where the cake was presented for members of the lower chamber to snack on during debate.
Finally, state Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, moved to defer Landry’s bill until more cake arrived.
McPherson countered with a substitute to favorably refer the bill. The committee went along with the substitute motion.
Landry sent her intern back to the House lounge to sneak more slices of cake to the Senate side.
Jindal autograph up for sale on eBay
How much is Gov. Bobby Jindal’s autograph worth?
An eBay dealer hopes fans are willing to pay $150.
Nick’s Sports Autographs put a signed photo of the governor on the Internet auction site with an asking price of $149.99, not including shipping and handling.
The description: “Bobby is a potential 2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidate. If elected, he would be the first Indian-American to ever hold either of those positions.”
Even pricier is a suggested $10,000 “buy it now” price for a Bobby-Jindal.com domain name.
The price later was reduced 25 percent.
Sen. Jackson spends holiday with budget
State Sen. Lydia Jackson spent Memorial Day — and night — reviewing House Bill 1, the $25 billion proposed state operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Jackson, D-Shreveport, said her reading included the section spelling out the complicated rules for the state spending year.
“You can tell I didn’t have anything to do last night,” she said Tuesday. “I read the preamble.”
Finance Committee meets on holiday
The Senate Finance Committee met in a largely deserted State Capitol on Memorial Day to begin reviewing the proposed $25 billion state operating budget.
Committee members marked the holiday with a prayer.
“We remember those who have sacrificed their lives for us … to protect our freedom and to protect democracy,” prayed state Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge.
Broome also asked God’s angels to protect those currently serving in the armed forces.
Gautreaux: Hearing not a radio talk show
Senate Retirement Committee Chairman Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, was holding a hearing recently on a bill he is sponsoring when it came under fire during testimony from Caroline Roemer Shirley, who is president of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.
“Excuse me ma’am, when I speak you have to stop speaking,” Gautreaux said.
“This is not a talk radio show where we talk over each other,” he added.
Shirley said after the meeting that she thought legislative hearings were supposed to allow topics to be heard.
Buddy Roemer takes fourth trip to N.H.
Former Gov. Buddy Roemer returned to New Hampshire for the fourth time Friday as he continues to explore a presidential bid.
The Republican attended the Belknap County Presidential Cruise and held private meetings throughout the day, Roemer’s campaign spokesman Aaron Walker reported.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made his Republican presidential bid official Thursday in the state — a traditional early candidate stomping ground.
Adley makes rare stand with Jindal
State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, a frequent critic of Gov. Bobby Jindal, took the Senate floor on Thursday to explain why he was siding with Jindal.
The issue was a bill to renew part of Louisiana’s cigarette tax.
Jindal opposes the measure because he says it runs afoul of his no-tax-hike stance.
Backers contend the $12 million bill would aid health programs and make cigarettes less affordable, especially to youngsters.
The measure won final approval. Jindal is expected to veto it, and lawmakers are expected to try to override it.
Adley told colleagues he opposes renewal because he was against it years ago when lawmakers approved it as a temporary tax.
Now that he opposes renewal, Adley jokingly told colleagues, Jindal may reassess his position.
Tucker standing by position on proposal
At week’s end, House Speaker Jim Tucker said he is sticking to his position that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed increase in state employee retirement contributions is “a revenue raiser” and requires a two-thirds legislative vote.
Jindal’s lawyers argue otherwise in a letter sent to Tucker rebutting arguments Tucker’s legal staff made that it should be considered a tax or fee increase both of which require a super-majority vote.
“I feel comfortable with the legal analysis from my staff and I’m sticking with it,” said Tucker.
The two-thirds vote means a higher hurdle for the proposal that would increase by 40 percent what state employees contribute to their pension plan. Two-thirds is 70 votes in the 105-member House.
Jindal chief of staff Timmy Teepell said that Tucker was initially for the legislation. Tucker said in early conversations he thought the additional contribution was going to payments on the retirement system’s unfunded accrued liability.
“Maybe I misunderstood the pitch or they changed the plan,” Tucker said.
PAR Council praises House funding cut
The Public Affairs Research Council has given the Louisiana House a thumbs up for its decision to partially cut funding for the Jindal administration’s start of a new health care delivery system for the poor.
The move provides “a good opportunity to rethink the Coordinated Care Networks initiative for Louisiana Medicaid reform,” according to a PAR commentary.
“The House’s amendment to the appropriations bill would save scarce dollars in next year’s state budget,” PAR said.
In addition, it will “slow the implementation of the administration’s proposed Coordinated Care Networks (CCN), a privatized system of questionable benefit for Louisiana’s Medicaid recipients and health care industry,” the governmental research organization said.
The House-passed budget removed $81 million from the state appropriation to DHH.
“Citing the House amendment, the health agency has threatened cuts of up to 8 percent for private providers. But the agency has the capacity to slow the CCN implementation while avoiding cuts to Medicaid vendors,” PAR said.
State climatologist addresses Press Club
State Climatologist Barry Keim is scheduled to discuss the upcoming hurricane season at Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St. in downtown Baton Rouge.
Meetings are free and open to the public. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for non-members.
Only members of the Press Club and members of the news media are allowed to ask questions.
Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact address is firstname.lastname@example.org.