The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |   May 21, 2019    |    Issue 188   |    |    @LaPoliticsNow    |     

Your Roll Call

BESE member declines to seek re-election… John Kay talks gas tax and industrial hemp, CDB… A look back at Dave Treen’s attempted comeback in 2003… James Armes, Julie Emerson and Mike Strain have been spotted… A staffer departs LABI for Chevron… Former Capitol reporter lands a promotion at POLITICO… Raymond Blanco is being honored by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette

Capitoland Countdown

44 days until sine die… 118 days until qualifying opens... 177 days until the primary elections... 219 days until the runoff elections... 279 days left in the term…


BESE Seat Opens Up

In a LaPolitics exclusive, BESE board member Kathy Edmonston said that she will not be seeking re-election to her Sixth District seat this fall, instead passing on the race in order to focus on her work as the Ascension Parish School System’s parent facilitator. In that role, Edmonston serves as an advocate for students, working with both schools and families to ensure that pupils receive the proper accommodations. 

“It has been an honor to serve the constituents of district six on BESE,” Edmonston told LaPolitics. “I will continue to support families whose children struggle in school. In 2015, I ran to be a voice for our children, their teachers and their parents. I pledge to continue to be that voice!”  

The Republican from Gonzales was initially elected four years ago, finishing first in the primary with 47 percent and defeating fellow GOP candidate Jason Engen in a runoff. She succeed former Chair Chas Roemer, who was term-limited. Edmonston’s election was notable because she was the only BESE candidate backed by the teachers unions’ to prevail at the ballot box in 2015. 

On the board, Edmonston was a critic of Common Core and pushed for the panel to vote on a long-term contract for Superintendent John White, arguing that the use of a month-to-month deal was impractical. She also drew attention for pushing for administrative changes at the Louisiana School for the Deaf and other specialty institutions. 

Edmonston also was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, supporting the presidential candidacy of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. 

The Sixth District covers parts of East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa and Washington Parishes. The election will coincide with the regularly scheduled gubernatorial, statewide and legislative races this fall. 

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HDA Client Society of Louisiana CPAs Recognized at the Capitol

“Louisiana counts on CPAs” — that was the message proudly shared with state legislators and the public at CPA Day at the Capitol on Monday, May 6. Rep. Julie Stokes and Sen. Barrow Peacock each presented resolutions acknowledging CPAs for their valuable contributions to the people of the great state of Louisiana. “CPAs stand ready to help legislators and their constituents build stronger, financially fit communities,” said LCPA CEO Ron Gitz, CPA, CGMA. “CPAs not only are committed to the highest ethical and financial standards, but we’re also dedicated to serving the needs of others. Our members volunteer countless hours with nonprofits, service organizations and community groups all with the purpose of improving the quality of life across Louisiana.”

From basic budgeting, to paying for education, to dealing with natural disasters, to starting a small business, to retirement planning, CPAs can help everyone from children to adults understand their personal finances and develop good money habits that can last a lifetime. If you are interested in having a local CPA speak at a school or community group on a financial topic or careers in accounting, contact LCPA State Government Relations Director Linda Babin, CPA, at 504.904.1125, Visit for more information.


AFP’s John Kay

LaPolitics: One of the biggest issues that you were tracking this session was the gas tax. What is your outlook now with that bill largely being defeated in Ways & Means yesterday? 

Americans for Prosperity State Director John Kay: Clearly, we’re happy that it didn’t pass. I wish we didn’t have to fight fights like these. I wish that we were working on positive policy that will move Louisiana forward. I think that the big takeaway for me from this bill is that there is a real reason that it was not sent to the voters. I think the voters would have destroyed this at the ballot box and it would have gone down in flames and made it very difficult to talk about a gas tax in the future. So legislators should think about that as they move into next year and 2021. They should really pay attention to what the voters in the state want and I don’t think a gas tax is what they want at all. That is why they are afraid to vote for it in an election year and even bring it up for a vote and that is why it didn’t pass two years ago. Voters do not support this. 

With the gas tax now off the table, what other legislative issues are you tracking? 

Today we are working on the hemp and CDB bill by Rep. Clay Schexnayder. It is really a no-brainer issue. The ability to grow hemp in Louisiana, which hemp and CDB are non-psychoactive compounds which do not get you high but have the ability to relieve pain. People find relief from things such as anxiety, chronic pain, some people even find it to reduce the “hangover” that you receive from opioids and sometimes it helps you even get off of opioids. It is a real, common sense way for the Legislature to help people in Louisiana find relief from those types of issues. Moving forward, Rep. (Mark) Wright has HB313 which would move DOTD gradually from the Transportation Trust Fund to the general fund and I think that is a conversation that is well worth having.


Dave Treen’s Comeback 

For most politicos, memories of the 2003 governor’s election are dominated by the vivid flashbacks to then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former DHH Secretary Bobby Jindal battling it out in the final hectic weeks of the runoff. Some of Blanco’s TV spots, such as the one detailing Jindal’s cuts to hospitals — nicknamed “Dr. Kevorkian” by consultant Ray Teddlie — have become legend in Bayou State political lore. 

But many people forget that the 2003 race also included a comeback bid from former Gov. Dave Treen. The 75-year-old Republican from Mandeville was looking to recapture his old seat that cycle and move back into the Governor’s Mansion after being soundly evicted by the voters in favor of Edwin Edwards in 1983. 

Treen had flirted with making a comeback bid prior to 2003, publicly considering running for governor in 1987, 1991 and 1995. He was so close to making the 1987 race that he even turned down a lifetime appointment from President Ronald Reagan to a vacant federal judgeship in New Orleans. Treen did jump into a special election in the First Congressional District in 1999, but lost a close race to then-Rep. David Vitter

At the center of Treen’s 2003 gubernatorial campaign was an effort to bring back his package of environmental and revenue measures, CWEL, that had failed to pass in the 80’s. The former governor wanted to use the money to pay for educational programs and to attract retirees to settle in the Bayou State in numbers similar to Florida. “It is a tremendous advantage to get retirees here in Louisiana,” Treen told WDSU in an interview

Harkening back to his image as the good-government hero in the carefree days of the 1980s, the former governor adopted the slogan of “Keep it Clean, Bring Back Treen.” His campaign even kept his signature blue and white color scheme which the candidate had used since 1971 for for signs, stickers and buttons. 

Treen also made the unique pledge of vowing only to serve one term if elected. He argued that not needing to worry about a re-election bid allowed him to undertake unpopular actions with he felt state government needed. “If I can’t put into place my plan in four years, then it can’t be done and I’m out of there in any event,” he told reporters. “But it can be done and it will be done.” 

However, despite the statesman-like pledges and rhetoric, when most of the Republican Party’s support and fundraising coalesced behind Jindal, the former governor dropped out of the race. 

S P O T T E D !

—Gov. John Bel Edwards was seen meeting with Acadiana-area lawmakers to discuss flooding in St. Mary, Assumption, Iberville, Terrebonne and St. Martin Parishes. 

—Both Congressman Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone were seen shaking hands and giving their stump speeches at the Washington Parish Republican Party’s meet and greet over the weekend. 

—Reps. James Armes and Julie Emerson were seen enjoying a good laugh and taking a picture with Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain

—Actor Kevin Costner sent a video message to Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, saluting him for his support of the film industry. 

Nungesser was also seen holding a baby alligator at the Gator Chateau in Jeff Davis Parish. 

—Pelican Institute CEO Daniel Espramer was seen in KPEL’s Lafayette studios Monday morning, visiting with Moon Griffon on his show. 

—You need a sign that things are getting a bit strange at the Capitol — former Rep. Chris Broadwater was seen wearing a regular tie and Rep. Sam Jones has shaved off his trademark mustache. 

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S T A F F   S H I F T S 

Camille Ivy-O’Donnell has departed LABI and joined Chevron as a State Government Affairs Analyst. 

Quint Forgey, who formerly worked with LPB and the Manship School News Service, has landed a new role at POLITICO with their breaking news team. Forgey has been with the D.C.-based publication since last year. 

O N   T H E   C A L E N D A R

—The Louisiana Youth Platform will be having their launch party tonight at LaPolitics’ Maginnis House after adjournment. 

—The Clerks of Court will also be having a reception at the Pentagon Barracks upon adjournment. 

—There will be a CENLA-themed reception at the City Club upon adjournment Wednesday. 

—The State Medical Society will be in Memorial Hall Wednesday afternoon. 

—Former First Gentleman Raymond “Coach” Blanco is being honored by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette at a ceremony on Friday, May 24. UL will be naming their Dean of Students Suite in Coach’s honor. He served of that role for over 40 years, from 1969 to 2009. 

—Hoopla, the annual House-Senate basketball game, is set for the evening on Monday, June 3 at the PMAC on LSU’s campus. Basketball insiders say that the undermanned upper chamber will be calling on LSU President F. King Alexander as their ace again this year. 

P O L I T I C A L   C H A T T E R

@MelindaDeslatte: “Senate votes 35-1 for bill that sets in motion up to five years of pay raises for judges. (Would also allow pay hikes for sheriffs whose salaries are tied to judges' pay rates). Moves next to House for debate. #lalege” 

—Rep. Larry Bagley has formally endorsed Congressman Ralph Abraham in the race for governor. 

—The Pelican Institute has released a new position paper on Medicaid, targeting issues and waste, fraud and abuse that has been identified with the program. 

—Senate Finance Chair Eric LaFleur is being honored this week by Spanish Town Market with his own sandwich. “The LaFleur du Boeuf” is a dip-it-dunk-it-love-it sandwich packed with roast beef and accented by Swiss cheese, grilled onions and mayonnaise — served au jus. 

Walter P. Reed, the former district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, reported to a federal prison facility in Morgantown, West Virginia last Friday. Reed was given a four year sentence in 2017 after being convicted on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and making false statements on tax returns. 

The Times-Pic: “Former Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts pleaded not guilty Monday (May 20) to 29 counts of tax evasion and wire fraud charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael B. North set his trial date for July 29.” 

—Cartoonist Fred Mulhearn gave his artistic take on the proposed teacher pay raise. 

—Former LSU Basketball Coach Dale Brown, a man who is never shy with his political opinions, authored an op-ed for The Advocate supporting university President F. King Alexander

—Former Board of Regents Chair Richard Lipsey is taking aim at House Majority Leader Lance Harris, slamming the Republican Delegation Chair over his bill to roll back sales tax measures passed last year. 

—NBC’s Today Show reported on SB184 by Sen. John Milkovich, the “heartbeat” bill. 

Pre-orders are being accepted for Bob Mann’s latest book, Becoming Ronald Reagan: The Rise of a Conservative Icon

T H E   W A R   C H E S T   W A R

—Businessman Eddie Rispone’s gubernatorial campaign will be having a fundraiser on Wednesday in Lafayette. According to the event’s invitation, it will be held at Tsunami Sushi and is billed as a meet and greet for young professionals. 

N E W S   S H A P I N G   O U R   P O L I T I C S

The Advocate: “While asking state lawmakers to grant an early extension of their monopoly license to operate a land casino in New Orleans, the owners of Harrah’s are challenging in court the Louisiana Department of Revenue’s contention that the casino owes tens of millions in back hotel taxes to the state.” 

The AP: "A bid to increase Louisiana’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21 narrowly escaped the House budget committee, but only after lawmakers added a long list of exemptions to the proposal.” 

The Times-Pic: “Titans of industry are often portrayed as men -- loud, brash, possibly bombastic. Someone who likes to hear himself talk. Not Eddie Rispone.” 

Gambit: “Timing is everything in politics, and time was on LaToya Cantrell’s side during her first year in office. She leveraged voter outrage over the Aug. 5, 2017 floods to get millions for infrastructure improvements from the state and the local hospitality industry, announcing the deal on the eve of her first anniversary as mayor. She also touted lower violent crime rates for murder, robbery and burglary.” 

B E L T W A Y   B E A T

—U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy will be introducing legislation this week clarifying the guidelines used for identifying disabilities in higher education. Cassidy’s bill, the RISE Act, will allow prior documentation used in K-12 education to qualify for accommodations at colleges and universities. 

Cassidy has also been recognized by Independent Electrical Contractors as their “Legislator of the Year.” 

—U.S. Sen. John Kennedy met with Acting FEMA Administrator Pete T. Gaynor last week to discuss obtaining assistance for residents of the Ruston area who were hit with tornadoes earlier this month. 

Kennedy also is working with other senators on getting an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program included in a disaster relief bill that is up for debate this week. The program is set to expire at the end of this month. 

—Minority Whip Steve Scalise will be meeting with Canadian Ambassador David McNaughton this week to discuss the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Trump Administration’s renegotiation of NAFTA. The Whip is currently working to guide the USMCA legislation through Congress. 

Scalise has also started practicing with the Republican team in preparation for the Congressional Baseball Game. According to Press Assistant Katie McKeogh, the Whip “hopes to reclaim his spot as second baseman for the game on June 26.” 

—Assistant House Majority Whip Cedric Richmond was inducted into Tulane Law School’s Hall of Fame last week. 

—Congressman Clay Higgins wrote a letter to President Donald Trump this week, thanking the commander-in-chief for visiting southwest Louisiana and his pledge to build a new bridge on I-10 in Lake Charles. 

Higgins will be hosting a telephone town hall with constituents this evening. 

—Congressman Ralph Abraham has also written to President Trump, requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture issue another round of Market Facilitation Payments to aid farmers hurt by Chinese tariffs. Abraham is also asking that the MFP formula be changed to average production instead of harvested production in order to benefit farmers who suffered from natural disasters, poor crop yield and other issues. 

—Congressman Garret Graves will be participating in hearings this week on the implementation of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which the Baton Rouge Republican worked heavily on. According to the congressman’s staff, many of Graves’ questions will focus on the slow bureaucratic response to the duplication of benefits issue and helping victims of the 2016 floods. 

Graves will also be participating in a bi-partisan soccer game with some other members, staff and a few professional athletes. He will also be running a 5K with Surgeon General Jerome Adams later this week. 


In Last Week’s LaPolitics Weekly

—President Donald Trump wades into the race in HD94 

—Congressman Ralph Abraham’s gubernatorial campaign is thinking about a boost for DJT 

—Could the House use a secret ballot in the speaker’s race? 

—How the North Louisiana Public Service Commission race shaping up 

—A look back at late Gov. John McKeithen’s pledge to build the PMAC 

—A member of the Landrieu family is running for governor   

—Sen. Rick Ward talks about the race for the upper chamber’s big gavel 

—SD31 leads off Inside the Rails 

Trump tries to pronounce Calcasieu in They Said It!  

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Sasol employees volunteer in Calcasieu classrooms through Partners in Education program

Sasol employee volunteers partner with Calcasieu Parish schools through Partners in Education, a collaborative effort between businesses and area school boards to engage students in education-based community programs. Sasol has been a proud partner of Calcasieu area schools for more than 25 years.

Over the last year, Sasol employees logged hundreds volunteer hours in four partner schools. The program is designed to enhance school-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through curricula and professional development for educators. 

Sasol leads several programs in area schools, including the McNeese State University Banners Cultural Series, which utilizes arts and humanities performances to engage students, and a monthly Second Saturday Science Show, which encourages student interests in science and provides educational employee demonstrations. 

Collectively, these programs bring math and science to life through demonstrations and hands-on learning. Combined, they have increased students’ grade-point averages across curriculums and educated them about the importance of STEM skills and training in today’s workforce.

To learn more about Partners in Education and other Sasol programs, visit Sasol online.

# H B D ,   T R A C K E R S !

—Tuesday, May 21: Brandon Brewer, Cloyce Clark and Chris Tidmore

—Wednesday, May 22: Former Congressman Richard Baker, Clare Stagg and Garrison Waite

—Thursday, May 23: Rita White, Sallie DuPont and Mary Kay Alford

—Friday, May 24: Rep. Jay Morris, former Rep. Harold Ritchie, Stephen Ledet and Terri Broussard Williams

—Saturday, May 25: Government relations pro Tom Spradley, Forest Bradley Wright and former Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association ED John Stevens

—Sunday, May 26: Michelle Southern and Lee Domingue

—Monday, May 27: Former Rep. Charmaine Marchand, JJ Buquet and Campbell Robertson


Beth and Bob Courtney celebrate 33 years of marriage tomorrow!

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Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review

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