Gov. Bobby Jindal will join the Family Research Council on a trip to Israel this fall.
According to the FRC’s event itinerary, Jindal and guests will arrive in Tel Aviv on Oct. 28. The tour will include sightseeing at the Sea of Galilee and Mount Carmel before heading to Jerusalem and then the Dead Sea. The group will return to the U.S. on Nov. 6.
The website promoting the venture promises potential attendees the opportunity for meetings with “top national conservative and Israeli political, defense and religious leaders,” “outstanding four and five star accommodations,” and entry to St. Peter’s fish lunch by the Sea of Galilee. The FRC trip will cost attendees about $5,000 per person, depending on their departure location.
The Family Research Council is a Washington, D.C.-based conservative Christian group and national lobbying organization formed by evangelist James Dobson. It’s led by Tony Perkins, a former Baton Rouge state representative, and is affiliated with the Louisiana Family Forum, an influential lobbying group on the state level.
Perkins and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who won Louisiana’s GOP presidential primary in 2012, will join Jindal on the trip.
Fleming endorses Vitter for governor
U.S. Rep. John Fleming had endorsed his fellow Louisiana Republican, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, in Vitter’s campaign for governor.
In his endorsement Thursday, Fleming cited Vitter’s objection to the use of the Common Core standards in Louisiana public schools as well as Vitter’s opposition to wasteful government spending and higher taxes.
Other high- profile Republicans running for governor include Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. The leading Democratic contender is state Rep. John Bel Edwards.
Fleming, a member of Congress since 2009, has said he would like to succeed Vitter in the Senate if Vitter wins the governorship. If Vitter does win, he would appoint his own successor, who would face a general election in 2016.
Lawmaker can’t keep contract with group
New state Rep. Mike Johnson, of Bossier City, won’t be able to keep his contract as lawyer for the Louisiana Right to Life Educational Committee.
The state Board of Ethics said the arrangement would violate state conflict of interest laws.
Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper asked the board to weigh in on the arrangement under which Johnson is the group’s legal counsel and regional director for north Louisiana. The group also has a registered lobbyist, Sarah Mary Toce.
“Can an entity, whether organization or business, that employs, retains or contracts with a person who is a registered lobbyist of the state Legislature at the same time employ, retain or contract with a member of the state Legislature for services?” Clapper asked the Ethics Board.
The Ethics Board said state law would prohibit Johnson and his law firm from receiving anything of economic value from the Louisiana Right to Life Educational Committee “for any services provided to assist them in any transaction with the legislative branch of government once Mr. Johnson is sworn into the Louisiana Legislature.”
Cassidy undecided on education issue
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said he is undecided on a key education debate in Washington: whether federal school testing requirements should be scrapped.
“This is as complex an issue as health care, but I have been doing health care for 25 years,” said Cassidy, who is a doctor.
“And so I have an intuition about some issues. This one, we are still going to committee hearings, listening, asking questions, delving into it,” he said.
The controversy is on possible changes to the 2001 federal law No Child Left Behind.
One of the top questions is whether the GOP-controlled Congress will drop the requirement that students in grades three through eight undergo annual testing in math and reading.
State Superintendent of Education John White has said that, if the rule is shelved, it would “send a message of chaos and confusion” to Louisiana public schools.
Critics contend too many exams are given now and that a reduction is in order.
The freshman senator made his comments during an appearance at Louisiana Key Academy, a charter school in Baton Rouge for students with dyslexia for grades one through three.
Cassidy’s wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, is president of the board that oversees the school.
USS Kidd head to ask Congress for support
USS Kidd Veterans Museum Executive Director Alejandra Juan is traveling to Washington, D.C., Monday and Tuesday to visit congressmen and argue for federal support of local museums.
The USS Kidd is a World War II destroyer and museum in downtown Baton Rouge.
Juan said she would join other museum officials to tell congressmen about educational uses and economic drivers museums are in their communities.
“We feel privileged that Juan will be joining us in Washington for Museums Advocacy Day,” Alliance President Ford W. Bell said in a prepared statement. “The USS KIDD Veterans Museum is doing extraordinary work in Baton Rouge, and the members of Congress from Louisiana need to hear from constituents about how the museum serves its community.”
Education group director leaving post
Rayne Martin, executive director of the education advocacy group Stand For Children/Louisiana, said she will leave her post in April.
Martin said she plans to start her own business that advises “risk takers” and others.
Stand For Children calls itself an advocate for closing the achievement gap in public schools.
Martin, who has held the job for more than three years, and others with the organization often testify on school issues in the Legislature and at the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The new executive director will be Monica Candel, who is a policy and data analyst with the group.
Ethics Board wants records law exemption
The Louisiana Board of Ethics wants to join other investigative agencies, including law enforcement, in having some of its records declared confidential and not subject to disclosure.
The Ethics Board is asking the Louisiana Legislature to add it to the list of entities with the specific exemption to the public records law.
“We want to protect the integrity of our cases going forward,” Ethics Administrator Kathleen Allen said.
The current exemption for prosecuting, investigative and law enforcement agencies protects recording containing such things as the identity sources, records pertaining to pending litigation and investigative techniques.
The Ethics Board wants the Legislature to protect from disclosure to those accused of ethics law violations such things as the transcript and recording of executive sessions as well as the board’s investigation report and notes of the investigator and attorneys. The board considers the records “privileged and confidential.”
Film company president to address Press Club
Will French, co-founder and president of Film Production Capital LLC, will speak at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday.
French will discuss the economic impact the film industry has had on the state and what is ahead for the industry in Louisiana in 2015.
Press Club meets on Mondays in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St.
Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.
The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program.
‘Jim Engster Show’ to host Donelon, Nickel
Monday guests on “The Jim Engster Show” are Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and former Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Jim Nickel.
Donelon will review the state’s participation in the health care law at the conclusion of the early enrollment period for this year. Nickel, who has been one of the top lobbyists at the State Capitol for a decade, will preview battles over the budget crisis awaiting lawmakers when they convene for the 2015 legislative session.
The program airs 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays on WBRP Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge, and on WSLA, AM 1560 in New Orleans.
Leaders luncheon to focus on state budget
The Louisiana budget is the topic of the Leaders With Vision public policy luncheon Thursday in Baton Rouge.
The panelists include Mandeville Republican state Sen. Jack Donahue, who chairs the Senate Finance committee; Jon Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project; and Tim Ryan, an economist.
Doors open 11 a.m. Drusilla Place, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge. Lunch will be served at 11:40 a.m., and the program begins at noon.
Walk-ins accepted if seating is available. Only cash or checks may be used for payment at the registration desk.
For further information, call (225) 927-2255.