Amid an under-the-klieg-lights campaign for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., took some time Thursday to address an issue that for him is far more personal than political: dyslexia.

In an informational hearing before the U.S. House Science Committee, Cassidy spoke about his experience as a father when he and his wife, Laura, learned a few years ago that their younger daughter was dyslexic.

Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, helped form the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus to raise awareness of the condition and promote programs to help people diagnosed with it. His wife led an effort to start a charter school in Baton Rouge that focuses on students with dyslexia; it opened in 2013.

“I believe we can come together on behalf of the children we love and the nation we serve, and work in a bipartisan and bicameral capacity,” Cassidy said, according to remarks he prepared for the committee. “Greater strides need to be made in ensuring that every dyslexic child and adult has a chance to read, to learn, to demonstrate and to realize his or her full potential.”

Stacie Antin, of Gonzales, who has enrolled her son in the Baton Rouge school, told the committee about her son’s struggles with dyslexia, a reading disorder characterized by difficulty decoding words from their written form.

“He’s still not a huge fan of school,” Antin said before testifying. But, “for the first time, he’s held his head a little higher. He didn’t feel ostracized by the other kids because he couldn’t read aloud.”

Cassidy is running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu this fall in an election that has drawn national attention because defeating Landrieu is a key to Republican attempts to capture a majority of the Senate.

Jindal goes back to New Hampshire

Gov. Bobby Jindal is heading back to New Hampshire next week, according to local reports.

WMUR reports that Jindal will be in Nashua for a “Pastors and Pews” event on Thursday.

Jindal, who is weighing a run for president, was in New Hampshire earlier this month for several Republican events. Next week will be at least his fourth to New Hampshire this year.

On his last trip, Jindal helped run a phone bank at the Nashua GOP Victory Office, attended the Strafford County Republican Committee picnic and went to the Seacoast Republican Women’s Annual ChiliFest.

In addition to that trip to New Hampshire, Jindal has traveled this month to Las Vegas; Atlanta; Houston; Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Florida; Midland, Texas; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In D.C., Jindal unveiled his second national policy paper through his nonprofit, America Next, further stoking speculation that he’s setting up a run for the GOP nomination for president.

Ethics Board OKs two working arrangements

It’s OK for state transportation chief Sherri LaBas’ new daughter-in-law to keep working in her agency.

And one of Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s sons won’t run into an ethics problem working for a law firm that represents the DA’s Office on occasion.

The state Ethics Board gave clearance to both arrangements as it adopted advisory opinions last week.

LaBas’ daughter-in-law, the former Melissa Arrigo, had been working as an engineer intern at the transportation agency for four years. She married LaBas’ son July 12.

State law allows the continued employment because Arrigo had worked for the agency for more than a year prior to LaBas becoming secretary, the Ethics Board said. However, LaBas’ cannot participate in financial transactions involving her.

In the Connick case, the Ethics Board said the son — as a salaried employee with Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson — won’t be performing any legal services for the DA’s Office nor will he share in law firm profits, so there’s no nepotism problem.

Paul Rainwater joins national lobbying firm

Paul Rainwater is joining the national lobbying firm Cornerstone Government Affairs as a senior consultant.

He is the former chief of staff and commissioner of administration for Gov. Bobby Jindal. He also has worked for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

He left the Jindal administration to lobby on his own during the last legislative session.

Earlier this year, Rainwater joined forces with former U.S. Congressman Rodney Alexander to lobby state government for pay. Rainwater said he would continue to represent clients with Alexander, along with a couple of other projects while also working with Cornerstone with state and national clients.

Rainwater worked with Cornerstone during the last session. He also represents Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Bossier Parish, the Louisiana Optometrics Association and oilman Bill Dore, of Lake Charles, according to ethics records.

Cornerstone Managing Partner of State Government Relations Campbell Kaufman said in a prepared statement: “His experience working in both the Jindal Administration and Senator Landrieu’s office will be invaluable to our existing client base and should be attractive to companies and organizations seeking representation in Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C.”

Vitter named guardian of small business

The National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small-business association, named U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a guardian of small business for his outstanding voting record on behalf of America’s small-business owners in the 113th U.S. Congress.

NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner said in a prepared statement: “The record shows that Sen. Vitter is a true champion of small business, supporting key small-business votes in the 113th Congress.”

La. Senate secretary retires after 40 years

State Senate Secretary Glenn Koepp is retiring after more than 40 years of work for the Louisiana Legislature.

He has been the Senate secretary since March 2004 but started work in 1972 while still in law school and served in a variety of positions. He has been leading redistricting efforts since 1981.

Koepp is retiring, but he won’t be fully leaving. State Senate President John Alario asked him to continue working at a reduced salary, which allows him to take advantage of his state retirement benefits.

He has been eligible for maximum retirement benefits for more than five years. He decided to retire now because it would provide the best benefit for his family.

John White to embark on ‘La. Believes’ tour

The state Department of Education has announced dates and locations for state Superintendent of Education John White’s “Louisiana Believes” tour.

The sessions will focus on state initiatives, including the overhaul of early childhood education, career training and assistance for school leaders.

The first stops are in the New Orleans area on Monday:

  • 9 a.m., Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St.
  • 10:30 a.m., New Orleans College Prep & Crocker College Prep, 2301 Marengo St.
  • Noon, Greater New Orleans Inc., 1 Canal Place
  • 3:30 p.m., Grace King High School, 4301 Grace King Place, Metairie

A gathering will be held in Baton Rouge on Oct. 13. Others are planned for Oct. 6 in Lafayette Parish and Oct. 27 in St. Tammany Parish. Times and locations will be announced later.

Big turnout expected for benefits meeting

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin is expecting a large turnout for a special-called meeting to go over Office of Group Benefits health insurance plan changes.

Fannin said he’s preparing for a long Thursday session in which legislators and the public will get their chance to question and vent.

The 280,000 or so Group Benefits members must decide in October in which of a range of new health plans they’ll enroll. The Legislature’s fiscal advisers have said most will encounter increases in out-of-pocket expenses.

As the panel prepares to meet, state Treasurer John Kennedy wrote Group Benefits CEO Susan West questioning the way in which the changes came about.

Kennedy asked for a copy of regulations or “other procedures that have been proposed, adopted, approved or promulgated to establish these changes” and what opportunity plan members had to react to the changes.

“Alternatively, please provide an explanation on why these did not have to be adopted, approved or promulgated in order to make sweeping changes to state employees’, teachers’, retired teachers’ and retired state employees’ health plans,” Kennedy wrote.

Community Coffee Co. school program begins

Community Coffee Co. is kicking off its 26th annual Community Cash for Schools program for the school year.

The drive allows schools to earn money by collecting UPC labels from Community Coffee brand products.

Local educators can direct money raised into projects of their choice.

Public and private schools have raised more than $5 million since the program began.

Organizers said schools can boost their collections by asking family members to collect the labels, creating competition between classrooms and rewarding children who collect the most labels.

Participants can enroll by visiting CommunityCoffee.com/CashforSchools and clicking on the “enroll online” link or by calling (800) 525-5583.

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