The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

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The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

December 18, 2018 - Issue No. 169

By Mitch Rabalais (

& Jeremy Alford (

Two-Week Publishing Break Begins Now…

Longtime readers know it’s time for LaPolitics’ annual holiday break. That means two weeks off from The Tuesday Tracker (12/25 & 01/01) and LaPolitics Weekly (12/27 & 01/03). We’ll be back in your inboxes the week beginning with Kings’ Day (01/06). As for what’s ahead in 2019, LW subscribers get that scoop on Thursday. From our families to yours, wherever they may be, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Greene wants an end to Fortnite, T-Fred wants wrinkle cream,
Hewitt wants fuzzy slippers & Norby wants peace (on the REC)…

The biggest date of December is exactly one week away. So we asked a few Trackers what they wanted underneath their trees. Let’s call it our present to you.

In case you were wondering, and we know you were, late Gov. Jimmie Davis was asked at age 100, or thereabouts, to reflect on a childhood Christmas from his past. “I got a blown-up hog bladder and a plucked blackbird for Christmas,” he told The Washington Post. “We ate the blackbird and played with the hog bladder and thought we were well off.”

Well, here’s hoping you have a better Christmas than Jimmie used to, and here are those holiday wishes from inside the rails…

“One year without a special session.”

Greg Hilburn, USA Today’s man at the Capitol

“An official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot,

range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”

—Congressman Ralph Abraham

“Santa, can you please bring a combination of

Jack Bauer and Ronald Reagan to take out Fortnite?”

—Public Service Commissioner Craig Greene

“For Christmas I am hoping for some quality family time and a new pair of fuzzy slippers.”

—Sen. Sharon Hewitt

“I asked Santa for some really good anti-wrinkle cream,

and a new ouija board for Joint Budget.”

—Senate Health and Welfare Chair Fred Mills

“Super Bowl victory.”

—Senate Finance Chair Eric LaFleur

“Peace in the REC.”

—Sen. Norby Chabert

“Tickets to the Super Bowl! Go Saints!”

—House Majority Leader Lance Harris

“A ‘yes’ vote from the speaker in the REC.”

—House Minority Leader Robert Johnson

“Seventy-five points on my LABI score.”

—Rep. Jay Morris

“First and foremost, I want everyone to take one minute to truly stop

and think about the birth of our Savior… Then I want season tickets to the Saints!”

—Judge Jonathan Perry

“More jobs… less taxes… a nice bottle of bourbon…

and for Nick Saban to take a job in the NFL.”

—LABI President Stephen Waguespack

“I would really like to see the Steelers make the playoffs.”

—Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moller

A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates

Louisiana State Medical Society
Announces New Vice President of Legal Affairs

HDA client the Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS) announced Maria Bowen as its new LSMS Vice President of Governmental Affairs. Bowen joins LSMS Vice President of Legal Affairs Lauren B. Bailey, LSMS Governmental Affairs Associate MaryBeth Wilkerson, LSMS Sr. Director of Communications Christopher LeBouef, and LSMS Executive Vice President and CEO Jeff Williams on the legislative team for the state’s largest physician association representing all specialties.

“Maria has an exceptional reputation, tremendous experience, and excellent relationships throughout Louisiana,” said Jeff Williams, Executive Vice President and CEO. “It will be great to be part of a team dedicated to advocating for Louisiana’s physicians,” Maria said. “I love the thought of being able to help those who work so hard to help others.”

Prior to joining the LSMS, Bowen has represented a number of different industries and boasts more than twenty years in association management including governmental and public relations experience with a varied background in issues management, communications, fundraising, coalition building, and grassroots lobbying at the local, state, and federal levels. The Mound, LA, native ventured to Baton Rouge to attend Louisiana State University and never left. Maria said.

Bowen joins the Society full-time in January 2019.

Moller on EITC, ACA & more

Last week we saw the Louisiana Budget Project unveil their district fact sheets, in which you guys really broke down all of the data and dollars on a district-by-district basis. What really brought about this project?

LBP Director Jan Moller: Well the genesis of this project was the debate last session on the Earned Income Tax Credit. Rep. (Ted) James had asked me during the debate on the EITC bill to read off data about the EITC for each of the members from the House Ways and Means committee. You know, how many people in their district would get the credit and how much money would be returned to their district if the credit was raised. It was Rep. (Phillip) DeVillier during that debate that started asking about other programs. You know, how many people are on TOPS in my district? How many people get food stamps in my district? That gave us the idea really and we realized that there was a need for this information. We realized that members did not always know how various programs impacted their areas. So after the session ended, we decided to see how much of this information was obtainable and how we could put it in a format that was easy for people to access.

What kind of feedback have you gotten on these from lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters and other folks from around the Capitol?

Moller: So far, and granted it has only been a few days, but it has been overwhelmingly positive. There was no agenda behind this other than to provide people with information that was useful. I’m always curious, I'm a data geek, that’s why I do this work. Again, there was no other agenda than to let policymakers see how these programs that we always debate in public life impact the people they represent. I hope there is some insight and maybe some surprising data for some folks. So we’ve had some very positive response, including from people who don’t always share our opinions on public affairs.

Switching gears for a minute… Friday we saw a federal judge in Texas make a ruling declaring the entity of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. There is already talk of some bills being filed for the next session. Do you think we are going to see an engulfing debate?

Moller: Well, Medicaid was always going to be a big issue because it covers so many people in this state. So many people, by virtue of income or disability are dependent on that program to access healthcare. It obviously is the most expensive program in state government. The coverage that more than half a million people in Louisiana depend on is being threatened by this judge’s ruling. So absolutely it is going to be a huge issue and hopefully this ruling will be a wake up call to those who take the program for granted. The expansion of Medicaid has been one of the great public health success stories in Louisiana. We have an uninsured rate in our state now that is below the national average. This ruling threatens to undo that, and think efforts will be made to protect the gains that have been made.

Now I know you can’t reveal too much, but what are some of the other things that we will see out of the Budget Project over the next year?

Moller: We’re still looking at that. We’re going to continue to do research on the budget, on revenues. Obviously, the tax compromise from 2018 is far from perfect, but I think we have some stability in our budget for the first time in over a decade. We hope the Legislature doesn’t squander some of that by trying to cut taxes. So we will be very vigilant on that front and we’re going to be looking for policies that help low income working families get ahead. That’s what we do every day.

Christmas gifts from Uncle Earl

If you’ve spent any time around Louisiana politics, it’s a safe bet you’ve heard a story or two — or probably 100 — about late Gov. Earl K. Long. Legendary were the escapades of this pea-patch planting, hospital-escaping, stripper-dating, microphone-screaming, linen suit-wearing, lawmaker-punching chief executive.

While the governor was a man who frequently referred to himself as “The Last of the Red Hot Poppas,” younger generations are likely unaware of Long’s spiritual side and his holiday gift-giving.

Long had been quoting the Bible out on the stump his entire career, and telling voters he was the best friend they could have, besides “Jesus Christ and Sears and Roebuck.” But he didn’t start regularly attending services until he was baptized by the First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge in 1955.

(According to historian Morgan D. Peoples, Long didn’t want to offend voters in Catholic south Louisiana, so he made a point of telling crowds in Acadiana that he was “about 40 percent Catholic and 60 percent Baptist,” by virtue of his attendance at Loyola University’s Law School.)

As Christmas neared following his baptism in 1955, Long painstakingly worked at his Pea Patch Farm in Winnfield, preparing the fruits of his agricultural spread to give out to voters as gifts. The breads, vegetables and milk became an annual tradition that Long maintained until his death.

While lawmakers usually didn’t get much out of Long if it wasn’t connected to a piece of legislation, Uncle Earl was rather kind during the holidays to his favorite preachers in Baton Rouge and Winnfield. Every year they received fully-dressed hogs, slaughtered personally by The Governor.


A federal judge in Texas struck down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act Friday evening on constitutional grounds, likely sending the controversial health care legislation back to the U.S. Supreme Court for another hearing.

The State of Louisiana was a party to the suit challenging the law, as Attorney General Jeff Landry joined the legal action brought by his Texas counterpart and 18 other states earlier this year. “Since day one, this case has always been about the Constitution and federal overreach,” Landry said in a statement.

The court’s ruling has triggered movement in Baton Rouge and added yet another item to the docket for the upcoming regular session. Keep in mind this session will already have debate on teacher pay raises, a tax rollback and budgetary reforms on top of the usual process around the budget and Capital Outlay.

Up on the Fourth Floor, Gov. John Bel Edwards and his team have already crafted a plan that would keep some of the current existing health care items in place. In a letter to Speaker Taylor Barras, Edwards expanded on some of the specifics of his plan, which would provide protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, prevent health status from being a factor in eligibility decisions and and keep children on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, among other things.

Rep. Chad Brown has volunteered to carry the bill that would contain the governor’s desired legislative solutions. While Brown is surrendering one of the five allotted slots he has for this upcoming session, he views it as a necessity. “I’m not trying to make any political statements,” Brown told LaPolitics. “I think this is something that will effect a lot of Louisiana citizens and particularly, a lot of my constituents.”

Brown added that he has already spoken to the House staff about language and the drafting of the bill, but has yet to speaking with his colleagues to start getting specific commitments of support. However, Brown did say that he feels that the issues that will be addressed in his bill are ones that have “broad support” in the lower chamber.

Speaking to LaPolitics, House Minority Leader Robert Johnson echoed Brown’s comments, adding that he feels that there needs to be a sense of urgency among his colleagues in the lower chamber. “We want to viciously fix this problem,” Johnson said. “Right now, Louisiana has no plan.”

Despite the battles that the House has seen this term, Johnson feels confident that a bill addressing the healthcare issues will be passed in the regular session. “I don’t know who can vote against giving people with preexisting conditions back their healthcare,” he said.


The first female mayor of Louisiana’s most well-known city is preparing to help ring in the new political year with an aggressive push for more tax dollars.

The same could likely be applied across the municipal spectrum in other mayorships, particularly with the Legislature’s April fiscal session on the 2019 calendar. Short of a special call issued by the body or governor, legislators won’t vote again on tax-related matters until the regular session of 2021.

Using recent history as a guide, representatives and senators dislike taking votes on taxes, especially during election years like 2019, and many of them simply hate — or fear — voting against their local officials. So the competition for tax votes next year will be brisk.

Yet there’s one difference with the revenue campaign originating in the geographic jewel of Orleans Parish — there’s a statewide angle involved. The Crescent City is, after all, a popular media focal point in Louisiana and a major tourism driver for the state. 

"New Orleans needs a little bit more revenue, so that not only she can take care of herself, but so that she can continue to drive the economy of the state of Louisiana," said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

With little wiggle room in the municipal budget and a daunting list of public works projects to address, Cantrell has been exploring options since she took office in May. The numbers involved are eye-opening, and they grow with each passing year of inaction, according to the mayor.

"I’m owning the infrastructure needs of this city, which will require an additional $80 million to $100 million a year, so that we can not only fix but that we can maintain infrastructure in this city," Cantrell said during the season-opening episode of The LaPolitics Report podcast, which is slated to be released Jan. 8.

It’s no secret that New Orleans has a glaring infrastructure problem; potholes are as ubiquitous as po-boys and significant street flooding has common occurrence. In Cantrell’s view, the current state of affairs is unacceptable.

"Looking at it as a system, it is inadequate right now,” she said. “That is a fact.”

As lawmakers begin the process of introducing legislation ahead of the regular session, Cantrell is open to reworking some of the existing formulas for tax collections in her city, some of which may require legislative approval. In certain instances, it may likewise mean diverting tax revenue from the state or other entities, for the benefit of New Orleans.

"I’m just looking to get a little bit more of what we generate, so we can do better on infrastructure," the mayor said.


With the deadline for a government shutdown looming in three days, all of Capitol Hill is in a holding pattern, waiting to see if President Donald Trump and the Congressional leadership can work behind the scenes hammer out a deal on a spending bill.

The political intrigue means that the Washington spin cycle is going full blast, with talking points bouncing around cable news, while social media is hotter than a cracking Christmas fire. As the back and forth continues, members and staff are growing increasingly impatient, as with each passing day it appears more likely that they will have to spend part of their Christmas stranded in the nation’s capital.

— Both U.S. senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, will be working with House members and the leadership to obtain a solution to the pressing problem presented by the National Flood Insurance Program. As of now, the program’s current two week extension runs out on Friday. While a bill offering a six month extension, sponsored by both Cassidy and Kennedy, managed to pass the Senate on Nov. 29, it is still awaiting movement on the House side of Capitol Hill.

— Majority Whip Steve Scalise will be working overtime this week, as he is be the Republicans’ point person in the House securing votes for passage of a spending bill. The New York Times reports that some GOP members, on their way out through either losing re-election or retirement, have stopped showing up for votes. The caucus’ loss in numbers means that Scalise’s job gets even more complicated as the leadership attempts to get the money legislation through.

— Congressman Cedric Richmond has landed a new post in the incoming House Democratic leadership. Richmond’s new role will be assistant to the Majority Whip, a job that will make him the “right-hand man” to incoming Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. The position is a new one, created by Clyburn and incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and it will make Richmond the number four man in the leadership. With Pelosi already announcing her intentions to step aside in 2022, the New Orleans pitching ace is in a prime position to move up the Democrats’ pecking order.

A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates

HDA client Louisiana Chemical Association President Gregory Bowser recently reminded us:

Louisiana’s Industrial Property Tax Exemption Program encourages businesses to invest in the state by allowing local governments to delay a portion of property taxes on new projects or major expansions for a set period of time. Those projects still pay sales and other taxes from the beginning of the project. The ITEP program is fundamental to the creation of manufacturing jobs in the state. Without it, Louisiana would have the highest taxes in the south and the seventh-largest in the nation for new manufacturing projects. Governments are not giving money to companies; they are delaying receipt of a portion of property taxes for the first few years of a project that, once constructed, will pay millions in property taxes for decades. If those projects had chosen not to locate in Louisiana, there would not have been money to exempt. 

The Louisiana chemical industry annually generates more than $1 billion dollars in revenue for local governments, more than $1.1 billion to the state treasury and $79.7 billion in sales for businesses in our state. In addition, within the next four years more than $14.5 billion of industry investments will come onto local property tax rolls when their exemptions expire.

The Louisiana chemical industry is the cornerstone of the state’s economy. The more than 29,000 people directly employed by Louisiana’s chemical industry pay taxes, bring good jobs to the state and contribute to the communities in which we operate. ITEP is an integral part of that picture and it helps assure our state’s continued growth.


— How politics and pennies are colliding in the Revenue Estimating Conference

— How Speaker Taylor Barras and Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry are changing the revenue estimating game

— What do the REC meetings reveal about the upcoming race for governor?

— A timeline of the 2015 race for governor and how 2019 matches up

— How John Bel, David, Jay & that Breaux Bridge boy did it

— How New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is getting creative and trying to find new revenue streams

— With the Farm Bill off his plate, what are Ralph Abraham’s next moves?

— The Louisiana Budget Project, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, and Marty Chabert all make appearances in “Field Notes”

— Sen. Sharon Hewitt’s deadlines lead off our “They Said It!” feature

Get on the inside today with a subscription to LaPolitics Weekly!


President Donald Trump sent his well wishes and some Christmas cheer to East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Nick Tullier, who is still recovering from his injuries is the 2016 police ambush. Congressman Garret Graves happily hand-delivered a note from the president to Tullier at the Houston hospital where he is undergoing treatment.

JBE IS RUNNING IN 2019…LITERALLY: Yesterday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his intentions to run in the Louisiana Marathon’s 5K race next month.

The Times-Pic: “The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the state entity with oversight of Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Center, raked in an additional $2.6 million in hotel taxes in 2017, pushing its revenue from tourist-related taxes to a record high, according to a Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report released Monday (Dec. 17).”

— Tuesday, West Baton Rouge Parish Council Chairman Gary “Sprout” Spillman announced his candidacy for the special election in HD18. The seat was vacated by Major Thibaut upon his election as Pointe Coupee Parish president.

— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise showed off his cooking skills in a video he made with his three Washington, D.C. roommates. You can draw your own conclusions, but the Whip’s blackened redfish looks delicious.

America magazine, a publication operated by the Catholic Church’s Jesuit order, profiled Gov. John Bel Edwards and the role that his personal faith plays in his life.

The News-Star: “Louisiana could save more than $100 million in Medicaid payments annually by verifying eligibility through income tax records, the latest in a series of audits shows, which the health department can now do through its new technology system.”

Jim Beam’s latest on the future of consolidated city-parish governments

— Congressional Aide Michael Willis’ BAD JOKE OF THE WEEK: “What do you call an elf who sings? A wrapper!”

It’s Almost Christmas Y’all!

Need client gifts? How about your board?

We’re willing to bet you know a political junkie or two…



What We’re Putting In Your Stocking

The Politics of Reform:
PAR: 50 Years of Changing Louisiana

by John Maginnis (Out of Print!)

The Last Hayride
by John Maginnis
(Optioned by HBO)

Cross to Bear: America’s Most Dangerous Politics
by John Maginnis (Optioned by HBO)

by Tyler Bridges & Jeremy Alford

Plus a discounted one-year gift subscription to LaPolitics Weekly (Just in time for 2019!)

Email or call 225-772-2518 for more information


— Tuesday, Dec. 18: Former Sen. Bob Kostelka, Terry Baugh, Laura Paul and John Spain

— Wednesday, Dec. 19: Sen. Jay Luneau, former Rep. Loulan Pitre, Dr. Nic Walts, Martha Reynolds, Cheri Coussan, Christina Stephens and Jason Waggenspack

— Thursday, Dec. 20: Carol Shadoin

— Friday, Dec. 21: Late Gov. James A. Noe (1890), former Congressman Jimmy Hayes and Tom Tauzin

— Saturday, Dec. 22: Brenda Ellington, Bob Bell and Tom Guarisco

— Sunday, Dec. 23: Attorney General Jeff Landry, Scott Sternberg and Katherine Dore

— Monday, Dec. 24: Robin Richards

Copyright © 2018

Jeremy Alford/Louisiana Political Review

All rights reserved.

Tuesday Tracker



Phone: 225-772-2518

Mail: Post Office Box 84779, Baton Rouge, LA 70884

Fax: 225-612-6408

Twitter: @LaPoliticsNow

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