Capitol Access

Weekdays at the bottom of the hour during Morning Edition

Your on-ramp for news and insight from Louisiana's statehouse.

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EPA

Louisiana’s share of the $18.7 billion BP settlement is of intense interest to the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. But director Chip Kline told the board Wednesday that most details are remain under wraps.

“Some of us are still under a confidentiality agreement as this thing plays out, so there’s only so much that we can discuss,” Kline explained, by way of apologizing for not being more forthcoming.

CPRA staffer Alyson Graugnard was able to give a timeline of the next steps, now than an agreement-in-principle has been reached.

Dan4th Nicholas / Flickr

The names Melissa Sellers, Kyle Plotkin, Frank Collins, Sean Lansing, Sarah Haley, Shannon Bates, Mike Reed, Alexis Nicaud, and Doug Cain may not mean anything to you, but each of them has served in Governor Bobby Jindal’s press office at some point during the past seven and a half years.

“I’ve never seen this kind of revolving door,” says Marsanne Golsby, who served as Governor Mike Foster’s press secretary for his entire two terms. “And before I was Governor Foster’s press secretary, I was a reporter covering the capitol, and I don’t remember this much turnover. I do think it’s unusual.”

Hurricane Katrina, as pictured in the Gulf of Mexico at 14:45 UTC on August 28, 2005.
NOAA

Don’t you love your smart phone, giving you information and instantaneous communication in the palm of your hand? But what if cell service, power and internet weren’t there? Remember Katrina?

“Then you have your response, which, if you remember, uh, didn’t go real well,” Kevin Davis, head of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), said, in a masterpiece of understatement. “It was a huge disaster,” he added, quite frankly.


Sue Lincoln

What’s it like out on the campaign trail? Over the next couple of months, I’ll be checking that out with candidates for governor. First up is Democrat John Bel Edwards. I caught up with him just past the midpoint of last week’s statewide tour, and traveled with his caravan around DeRidder and up to Leesville.

Unlike David Vitter, Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle -- who have held statewide posts – it’s a constant round of introductions.

“Lettin’ us know who you are?” asked a barber in DeRidder.

“I’m known more than you might think,” Edwards replied, “But I’ve got the most room to grow.”

Sue Lincoln

Leesville residents are breathing sighs of relief, as across-the-board troop reductions have mostly spared Ft. Polk.

“It shouldn’t hurt us too much,” Elmer Phillips said.

Ft. Polk is losing 388 soldiers, but the worst-case scenario would have cut 6500 troops from the military base in west-central Louisiana. The U.S. Army is reducing forces by 40,000 worldwide.

“We just did not want to lose these troops,” Beryl Ford said, visibly relieved.

Treasurer John Kennedy / Flickr

State Treasurer John Kennedy addressed the Baton Rouge Rotary Club Wednesday. He had quite a bit to say about the budget, and the lawmakers who crafted it.

“I was very, very disappointed in what the legislature did this past session, in terms of our budget," Kennedy said.

The Treasurer asserts legislators didn't even try to address the things that had created the $1.6 billion budget hole.

Just as the summer days are heating up, so is the governor’s race. Some of the candidates are actively wooing the women’s vote.

“I don’t view women as a special interest. I view ‘em as Louisiana’s interest, with an absolutely deserving right to sit at every table, with equal pay for equal work,” Republican Scott Angelle says in one of his ads.

“Scott Angelle’s trying desperately to be in the runoff with Vitter at this point, and he’s appealing to women,” U-L Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross observes.

Sue Lincoln

How do you start a whole new industry from the ground up, especially when that industry is medical marijuana? That’s what state Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain has to figure out. His department has to come up with the rules and regulations for producing and processing the marijuana by January.

“We are responsible all the way from the seed to the delivery of the final chemical product,” Strain told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Running for office these days means more than just shaking hands and kissing babies. It now requires social media savvy. And while Twitter and Facebook offer free venues for candidates to get their messages across, they can also mean that missteps go viral.

Case in point: #AskBobby. Last week, the super PAC supporting Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign invited Twitter users to submit questions to the candidate. Within hours, #AskBobby was the top trend in Louisiana, and trending nationally as the number three most-used hashtag – even though the questions were far from pretty.

Whether it’s a Catholic priest, a Baptist minister, or one of the House members, each day of a legislative session, the House convenes with a Christian prayer. I asked House Clerk Albert “Butch” Speer when was the last time a prayer was something other than Christian?

“I don’t remember any time,” said the man who has served as House Clerk for 32 years.

Much of the reason is that invocations are done on a volunteer basis; members themselves or their pastors.

“The vast majority of the members of the House profess Christianity as their major religious belief, and so that’s what we’re going to end up with--because it’s purely voluntary,” Speer said.

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