Monday, April 5, 2010

Post-holiday catch up edition

Much has happened during the short Easter break. The legislature is back in session, but unlike previous years, the opening was marked by dissension.

Leadership issues: Because former Speaker Pro Tem Karen Carter Peterson was elected to the Senate, the House had to choose a new pro tem. Normally, that's not a big deal. The guys gather in a back room, agree with the governor's pick for the post, and hold an election to make it official.

But as Times-Picayune reporter Ed Anderson writes here, this year there were actually two candidates: Independent Joel Robideaux of Lafayette, who had the nod from Speaker of the House Jim Tucker, and Democrat Noble Ellington of Winnsboro. Surprisingly, Ellington came within a handful of votes of beating Robideaux.

Retribution from Speaker Tucker was swift and harsh, as reported here by the Picayune's Jan Moller. Ellington and some of his supporters lost plum committee assignments, and Ellington was threatened with the loss of his digs at the prestigious Pentagon Barracks near the capitol.

Jindal losing his luster? A poll from LSU's Public Policy Research Lab revealed that Governor Jindal's direction for the state may no longer be supported by a majority of residents.

As reported here by Advocate bureau chief Mark Ballard, a solid majority oppose the governor's rigid opposition to taxes in the face of the state's economic crisis, and 51% say the repeal of the Stelly tax reforms was a mistake "because it cost state revenue and contributed to the current budget shortfall." Nearly 60% say the Stelly reforms should be reinstated.

College shake-up in the works? Higher education in Louisiana probably won't look the same after this legislative session. As Bill Barrow of The Advocate reports here, several plans are floating around the capitol that would restructure governance of colleges and universities. The most drastic would replace the state's four college boards with one 15-member board of trustees. college shakeup Jindal plan unpopular

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