Sue Lincoln

Capitol Access Reporter

Sue Lincoln is a veteran reporter in the political arena. Her radio experience began in the early ’80s, in “the other L-A” — Los Angeles.

Since her transplantation to Louisiana 25 years ago, she has covered the state, the capital, and its colorful cast of characters for Louisiana Radio Network, LPB and the Southern Education Desk.

Now she’s focusing her experience and expertise on producing WRKF’s Capitol Access.

Ways To Connect

Gov. Bobby Jindal called members of the capitol press corps into his office Thursday, sitting down with them to give his impressions of the first week of the session. He spent much of the time speaking of his support for Rep. Mike Johnson’s HB 707.

“This bill simply prevents the state from discriminating against Christians and others with traditional views of marriage,” Jindal stated. “It’s hard for me to see why anybody would be opposed to that.”


“Even if we are challenging the governor, we are asking you to inspire us with leadership, and come up with a solution that will solve this problem,” UNO student government president David Teagle told the House Appropriations committee Wednesday.

Teagle was one of several hundred college students from around the state who showed up at the capitol to protest proposed cuts to higher education.

courtesy LA OJJ

While the Senate Finance Committee began working through the budget Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee was taking public testimony on it.

“Thank you for coming today for this testimony,” Appropriations chair Jim Fannin said in welcome, noting the weather made it more difficult than usual for many who turned up to add their input to the process. “We are appreciative for that,” he said.

Much of the public testimony went as expected: requests for higher allocations to cover jobs and services.

With three whacks of the gavel, Speaker Chuck Kleckley called the Louisiana House to order, starting the 2015 legislative session. The main event of day one was Governor Bobby Jindal’s address.

“Here we are—the moment so many of us have been waiting for: my last state-of-the-state speech,” Jindal began, to appreciative laughter from senators and representatives alike.

Joking aside, the governor made several claims regarding the state of Louisiana’s economy. Democrats, led by Amite Rep. John Bel Edwards, challenged several of those statements. Let’s check both for spin.

The 2015 legislative session convenes today, with just 60 days to solve a one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit. Has it ever been this bad?

“We’ve gone through this a couple of other times; the Arab oil embargo in the early 80s, and then also in the middle 90s when Roemer was governor,” House Clerk Butch Speer recalls. “We had those two crises, and they were actually worse than this one. Certainly in the middle 90s we were over a billion dollars short. We’re a billion and a half now, but the budget is 6, 8 times as large now.”

Participants in the legislative process can easily get sucked into the intensity of a session. BUT Louisiana lawmaking does not take place in a vacuum. It happens in the tallest state capitol building in the United States—a place filled with symbolism.

Built in the first few years of the Great Depression, it was the brainchild of then-Governor Huey P. Long.

“He completed it in just 14 months’ time, at the cost of five million dollars,” explains Capitol tour guide Audrey Fry.

courtesy LSU

Louisiana’s House Appropriations Committee has been asking every agency to present their worst-case scenario when showing up for budget hearings. Wednesday, the committee got the grim prognosis—full force—from higher education.

“Higher education would be reduced by $600-million. That’s an 82-percent reduction from 14-15,” legislative budget analyst Willis Brewer stated.

It wasn’t a comfortable conversation, as Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann — a Common Core opponent — grilled Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White in the House Appropriations committee meeting Tuesday. At issue were plans to purchase new batteries of state standardized tests.


The budget is the big issue when the legislature convenes next week, and the administration is placing heavy emphasis on GEMS initiatives.

“GEMS” is the acronym for Government Efficiencies Management Support”, which is the title of the efficiency report commissioned last year from the consulting firm of Alvarez and Marsal. Although the report wasn’t delivered till the very end of last year’s session, lawmakers were loudly skeptical of the cost of the contract to provide the report, and the savings promised by Alvarez and Marsal.

Fifteen million pounds of deteriorating explosives are improperly stored at Camp Minden in northwest Louisiana. The company charged with disposing of them has gone bankrupt. The U.S. Army agreed to destroy the M6 propellant via open tray burning. Area residents said no.

Last week, lawmakers on the House Appropriations committee asked Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch for an update.

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