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June 13, 2017 — Issue 104 

Have a job connected to the Capitol? Following the session? Do you enjoy information that’s delivered in numbered lists?

This your lucky day! Here are the afternoon’s top five political takeaways:

1.) If you’re taking bets at home, the new number is $100 million. That’s how much money that’s being reserved in the budget by the Appropriations Committee. The full House weighs in next on the bill, but what we all really want to know is where the Senate and Gov. John Bel Edwards want that number.

2.) The Edwards Administration has not yet issued a “Just In Case” call for a fifth special session. Administration officials appear to be waiting to see what happens on the House floor before pulling that trigger. Fourth floor folks, though, do generally seem confident that a compromise will be reached during the ongoing special session. (That storyline may need to be updated tomorrow…)

3.) Under attack from a round of TV buys from Truth In Politics, Edwards is getting some relief from Rebuild Louisiana, which has moved forward with a “matching buy” for a digital spot that was released Thursday evening and has been edited down to 30 seconds. (The governor still singles out House members in the ad for blowing up the regular session.)

4.) The pace of governing at the Capitol is noteworthy. With adjournment slated for Monday, many are hoping for an early exit… (It’ll be believable when its seeable.)

5.) The lobbying corps is largely gone and outside of the Alabama limestone. They know the political mood is toxic in Baton Rouge, plus a few no doubt enjoyed shutting down their session expense accounts. (Besides… lawmakers don’t need more distractions than they’re already faced with right now.)

On a side note, thanks for waiting around on this issue, and all of those delivered during the legislative sessions… Makes for long days!

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Tuesday History: Remembering Marie Snellings

Marie Louise Wilcox Snellings was a Louisiana woman who carved her own path across this state’s unforgiving political landscape. But her contributions also extended well beyond elected life.

In 1933 Marie Louise was one of the first women to earn a law degree from Tulane University. She also secured a master’s in law from Columbia University before conducting research for and learning to cook from U.S. Sen. Allen Ellender of Houma. (Those culinary and political lessons came in handy later in her life.)

After college Marie Louise became very active in Republican politics and ran successfully for the Ouachita Parish School Board in 1964. Having received resistance from party establishment types, Marie Louise switched to the Democratic Party soon after and eventually won a seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Her time on BESE stretched from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Well known as an excellent cook who was schooled by Sen. Ellender, Marie Louise likewise wrote a popular cookbook and several children’s books. When she was in her 50s Marie Louise even bought and managed a 600-acre farm in Caldwell Parish, where she grew cotton and bred cattle.

The parents of two children, Snellings and her husband adopted a third child, Frank Snellings, from Ireland in 1954. He is now married to former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Marie Louise died Feb. 2, 1994, in Monroe.

Excerpted with permission from KnowLouisiana.org, the Digital Encyclopedia of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

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CAPTURING HISTORY

A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates:

Mossville Project, Sponsored By Sasol, Now Live

In response to Mossville residents’ interest in preserving the history of their community, Sasol provided a grant to the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, in partnership with the Louisiana State University/T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History and local writer Bill Shearman, to capture, record, preserve and make available the written and oral history of the people and community of Mossville, the neighborhood adjacent to the company’s ethane cracker and derivatives project. The exhibit opened last week at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum.

The museum and steering committee of Mossville residents worked together to make this project a reality. Members of the steering committee collected stories, photos and mementos for the exhibit.

“As a Mossville resident, I was amazed at some of the things I learned about my own community. I found out we had artists come out of this community, we had professionals and sports people come out of this community, we even had a pilot that flew Air Force One for President Carter that came from this community,” Edward Butch Lemelle Jr., Mossville History Project steering committee chairman, said. “I take great pride in this project.”

Transcripts, research and photographs are on display at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, the McNeese University Archives, LSU Libraries Special Collections and Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Collections, which is available to researchers and patrons. Audio, video and images are available on LSU Library servers.

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Jay Dardenne’s Ode To The 2017 Regular Session

It started with lots of hot air

And ended with a bust

No one around the Capitol

Could determine who to trust.

On the day the Fighting Tigers

Won their biggest game

The strategy in government

Was to figure out who to blame.

There was nary a walk-off homer

Nor a sacrifice bunt

The Legislature met for 45 days

And all they did was punt.

So we gather again in Baton Rouge

To wail and moan and jaw

Let’s just get this over

And head to Omaha!

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Alternative Ode, Devised Via Twitter

The outlook wasn't brilliant

For the #lalege that day

The budget stood short $50 mill

With a session left to play. (@skooks)

The hairs are all long gone

I pulled them out last time

Another special session's on

Kicking the can should be a crime. (@LarryLarmeu)

They’d do it right this time

Maybe with different meds

But the only big difference

were longer hairs on their heads. (@LaPoliticsNow)

They'll fuss and fight for 2 weeks straight

About which choice is true —

Is it easier to replace Walt Leger

Or replace lost revenue? (@JohnJelEdwards)

They'll fight about the budget

Till they find a way to fund it

Or risk another thrashing

At the hand of hacks & pundits. (@clancygambit)

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Chuck Kleckley On The Pod

The LaPolitics Report has hosted three former or current House speakers and Chuck Kleckley makes four in tomorrow’s episode.

Kleckley has some very interesting thoughts to share about Speaker Taylor Barras and the mood in the House.

The former speaker likewise discusses what it was like working with Bobby Jindal and explains what his own path was like for the House’s big gavel.

This episode also kicks off with a historic snippet about one of New Orleans’ most iconic foods.

As usual we’ll be sending out an email with a link to the audio tomorrow, but you’ll also be able to find it at LaPolitics.com and on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

Your Wednesdays have never sounded better.

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FISCAL YEAR FIRE SALE!

Trial Subscription Offer For LaPolitics Weekly

(It’s Free…)

(Seriously…)

Always wanted to check out LaPolitics Weekly but never clicked the subscription link? Well, here’s a free shot for you.

Send a request to news@LaPolitics.com, provide your name and preferred email address, and you’ll get a free trial subscription to LaPolitics Weekly for three months. No strings attached.

The insider scoop starts flowing your way on the first day of the new fiscal year — on July 1, 2017 — and won’t stop for three months.

This offer expires on June 30, 2017.

LaPolitics Weekly has been Louisiana’s premier trade publication for elected officials, lobbyists, campaign professionals and journalists for 24 years.

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EWE Party Update

— Gov. Edwin Edwards’ 90th birthday celebration on Aug. 12 at the Renaissance in Baton Rouge will be a “sellout,” according to event organizers Robert Gentry and Jack McGuire. (The ballroom will hold a maximum of 530 people.)

— Over 300 tickets have already been sold as of June 12, with more reservations coming in.

— EWE and his family will be joined by special guests Gov. John Bel and Donna Edwards, said Gentry and McGuire. Both governors will speak, they added.

— More info: www.ewe90th.com

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Political Chatter

— The first forum in the New Orleans mayoral race is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Unitarian Church on Jefferson at Claiborne. Those participating include LaToya Cantrell, Desiree Charbonnet and Michael Bagneris.

— Acadian Ambulance Services chairman and CEO Richard Zuschlag has joined PSC candidate Dr. Craig Greene’s Lafayette campaign finance committee.

— Lobbyist Michael Willis’ Bad Joke Of The Week: “Why wouldn't the crawfish share his dinner? Because he was a little shellfish!”

— He's a Cinderella story… A lawmaker hosting his first golf tournament… Rep. Chris Leopold's “Inaugural Caddyshack Golf Tournament” is scheduled for next Friday on June 23 at 1 p.m. at the Stonebridge Golf Club of New Orleans in Gretna… Dress as your favorite Caddyshack character and win a prize… Or just play golf pong… Contact Joanna at 504-430-4495 for more info.

— On Monday the U.S. House passed Congressman Mike Johnson’s HR 2457, the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Extension Act of 2017, by a vote of 402 to 1.

— Today Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the appointment of Col. Kevin Reeves as the deputy secretary of Public Safety Services and the superintendent of Louisiana State Police.

— Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said it was a “tremendous honor” to represent the nation’s agricultural producers at a meeting Thursday with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. “We discussed infrastructure challenges and what it means to the rural community,” said Strain. “While we are an economic super power, our infrastructure must keep up. Improving infrastructure improves commerce, the economy and it moves America forward.”

— Congressmen Garret Graves and Cedric Richmond have introduced HR 2849, the Louisiana Flood and Storm Devastation Act of 2017, to help flood victims financially recover from the events of 2016.

— Next Thursday, on June 22, NLC Louisiana is having its annual Fellows Fundraiser. It’ll be at Cellardoor in New Orleans from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature the top three declared candidates for New Orleans mayor, including LaToya Cantrell, Desiree Charbonnet and Michael Bagneris. TICKETS & MORE INFO

— Speaking of, Michael Bagneris has a fundraiser for his mayoral bid Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Allegro Bistro on Poydras Street. Blues and jazz singer Sharon Martin has the entertainment covered.

— C100/CABL commentary on the regular session: “As disappointing as this session was for fiscal reform, we hope to have another opportunity to get it right before the temporary taxes expire next year. It is our hope that lawmakers will reflect on this lackluster session, consider the substantial future damage we can avoid, and return in a special session with firm plans to address our fiscal woes in a responsible and comprehensive fashion that positions Louisiana for a more prosperous future.”

— Rep. John Schroder is donating his special session pay to victims of the 2016 August flood.

— The 2017 chapter of Louisiana Youth Seminar is about five weeks away. There are more than 320 students registered and others on a waitlist as well. Want to help a student attend this impressive program? Donate online at www.louisianayouthseminar.org.

Karla Loeb has started her own consulting business, Loeb Consulting LLC. She was formerly the director of policy and government affairs for PosiGen.

— Gov. John Bel Edwards and LED Secretary Don Pierson presented local craft brewery Gnarly Barley with the 2017 Lantern Award last week.

— The Louisiana Democratic Party announced a new partnership with the National Democratic Training Committee as the first program of their “resistance summer.” The partnership will provide free training through a website hosted by NDTC that focuses on running successful campaigns.

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Quick Clips

— “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has named Dr. Vindell Washington as chief medical officer.” Via City Business

— “Mary Werner, an oil and gas executive, was named Tuesday by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the LSU Board of Supervisors.” Via Mark Ballard, The Advocate

— “Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, was one of the most vocal proponents for tax reform during the regular session that ended last week. But most of his proposals were batted down by fellow Republicans. He vowed that if another special session were called, he would boycott it because the frustrated business owner thought everything should have been handled during regular session. It wasn't. So he did.” Via The LSU Manship School News Service

— “New Orleans City Councilman James Gray is facing another suspension of his law license after the state Attorney Disciplinary Board found last month that he had failed to respond to a complaint about his practice. If the full board accepts the committee recommendation that Gray receive another suspension, it will be the second time in two years the councilman will be barred from practicing law.” Via Kevin Litten, The Times-Pic

— “As officials seek full recovery of the once disastrously depleted red snapper population in the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf states are considering a proposed compromise on a contentious threeday federal red snapper season for recreational anglers.” Via Janet McConnaughey, The AP

— “Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope’s problems may be getting worse. On Monday, someone started the process to recall Pope, who took office in January 2015.” Via Claire Taylor, The Advertiser

— “Senate President John Alario said Sen. Karen Carter Peterson shouldn’t have shouted and cursed at Rep. Dodie Horton on the House floor last week, but he stopped short of saying he would reprimand her.” Via Greg Hilburn, USA Today Network

— “The former head of the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida will serve as interim director of the Louisiana State Museum. Steven Maklansky, who previously worked for the State Museum and the New Orleans Museum of Art, will replace Tim Chester, the former interim director who left after accusing Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser of interfering with day-to-day operations at the institution.” Via Jeff Adelson, The Advocate

News clips provided by ON TRACK WITH MARUSAK online news clipping service. Day or night, receive breaking political and government news from across the state right in your email inbox. For more information about the exhaustive daily service, contact Jennifer Marusak at jmarusak@bellsouth.net.

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The Capitol Blame Game

The fallout from the dramatic conclusion of the regular session last week, and from the bumpy start to this term’s fourth special session, is only just beginning.

There are already well-publicized accusations that the Capitol’s top leaders are at best dysfunctional and at worst guilty of political malpractice. It’s a narrative that’s being driven full throttle into the minds of voters, fueled largely by engagement on social media and developing news coverage.

The storyline will continue past the special session’s adjournment (Monday, June 19) as well in search of just one answer: Who’s to blame?

THE GOVERNOR

It’s clear that Gov. John Bel Edwards was ready to blame “a handful of House members,” based on a digital ad that he shot in Baton Rouge last Wednesday morning — before anyone knew the state budget would die on the vine and a special session would absolutely be needed. “I’m prepared to keep the Legislature in Baton Rouge as long as it takes,” Edwards crows in the spot that went live right after the regular session ended.

The governor was more direct than ever on camera when identifying the House as the Capitol’s bottleneck. The digital ad, bankrolled by Rebuild Louisiana, marks a somewhat new tone in terms of public and paid-for presentations.

What is bothering conservatives isn’t the fact that Edwards took alternative takes during the shoot, as to be prepared for any outcome. It was that he spent Wednesday (June 7), before and after the shoot, refusing to budge on negotiations with the House over how much forecasted revenue to apply to the budget.

While the governor was eventually moving with the Senate and House toward a middle ground by last Thursday, Republicans are now arguing that a budget could have been passed had the governor decided to start bending earlier in the process.

Edwards, though, is sticking to his strategy of blaming the House, which on the surface is a difficult task. After all, it’s a challenge to put a face or personality on an institution to demonize, whereas the Governor’s Office has an easily-identifiable figurehead.

The governor has overcome that obstacle with the help of the working press. Editorials published by The Advocate and The Lafayette Advertiser calling for new House leadership definitely helps narrow the focus of Edwards’ messaging.

THE HOUSE

The last day of the regular session and the first day of the special session ended with representatives being pulled in different directions by GOP House Speaker Taylor Barras and Democratic Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger.

Barras allies, during the opening hours of the special session, were pondering a vote to oust Leger as pro tem while moderate Republicans — many of which sided with Democrats in trying to get a last-minute budget vote in the regular session — were questioning whether they had enough momentum to unseat Barras.

Neither side, however, was able to test the waters. Barras recognized Natural Resources Chairman Stuart Bishop for a motion to adjourn until this week, which Leger objected to before a 66-38 vote sent everyone home to watch LSU play baseball.

That surprise motion was politically expedient. With emotions running high any number of motions could have surfaced Thursday evening or even into the weekend had the House met.

There’s still a bit of work to do to ensure cooler temperatures will prevail as the special session moves along. But there’s no doubt that the lower chamber will continue to control the bumpiest terrain in the Capitol.

None of this has stopped some representatives from blaming senators for this mess, alleging the governor instructed the Senate not to negotiate with the House. Senators, of course, are fond of professing that no one tells the upper chamber what to do.

THE SENATE

The same complaints heard over the past year and a half about the House having too many access points for legitimate negotiations were being parroted by senators again as the regular session adjourned.

In fact, some senators sound more pessimistic than their representative counterparts that a true compromise can be reached. The ideology behind how much money to save and spend is pushing the House and Senate even further apart than Memorial Hall already does.

The Senate is also being asked to address a request for censure filed by the House GOP Delegation targeting Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who told a representative on the lower chamber’s floor to “shut the f**k up” during the regular session’s closing moments.

A few representatives said they were just as offended by the decision made by Peterson, the chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, to come onto the House floor last Thursday evening, walk to the well and hand Speaker Pro Tem Leger a rules book during a critical point in debate.

While the governor and Senate are blaming the House, and the House is blaming the governor and Senate, many observers are willing to note that there’s plenty of blame to go around for everyone.

It’s also worth noting that the blame game could begin once again when this special session reaches a conclusion… If it reaches a conclusion.

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A message from Harris, DeVille & Associates:

Drug Spending Slows

The rate of growth in prescription drug spending appears to be slowing. A March 2017 annual report on national health care expenditures by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reveals that among all health services, prescription drug spending has the largest projected slowdown. 

Growth held to just 5 percent in 2016, compared with 9 percent in 2015. Express Scripts’ 2016 Drug Trend Report also found that spending increases on medicine were down from an average of 5.2 percent in 2015 to 3.8 in 2016.

PhRMA, the brand medicine manufacturers’ trade association, points out that brand biopharmaceutical companies retain only around 63 percent of total gross spending on brand medicines and just 47 percent of total U.S. spending on prescription drugs, including generics. 

More than one-third of a drug’s list price is rebated back to insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers and the government, or is retained by other stakeholders in the supply chain. 

Several drug manufacturers have voluntarily provided more transparency on the discounts and rebates they pay into the health care system, to government insurers and to middlemen, including pharmacy benefit managers, according to a CNBC report in late February. 

States welcome the change, but they also recognize the value of new treatments. More than 550 new medicines are in development, according to PhRMA. To view the article, click here

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Birthdays

— Today: Todd Parker

— Wednesday 06/14: President Donald Trump, Sen. Regina Barrow, former Congressman Billy Tauzin, Berry Burnside Balfour and Callan Joffrion

— Thursday 06/15: Cajun muse Marie DesOrmeaux Centanni, Tom Warner and Kerry St. Pe’ 

— Friday 06/16: Cherie Melancon Franz

— Saturday 06/17: Sen. Conrad Appel, Rep. Scott Simon, Lori LeBlanc and Katherine Fremin Carver

— Sunday 06/18: Rep. Jimmy Harris and Mike Thompson 

— Monday 06/19: Dr. William DuBos and Travis Cummings

— Who We Forgot: Comms pro Cory Stewart (June 11)

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Weddings & Anniversaries

Rachel Hunter Livengood and her husband Mark celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary Monday.

Charlie Davis and his wife Ellen celebrated 12 years together on Sunday.

Leslie Leavoy is getting married! Brady Smith is taking the leap with her!

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