Capitol Buzz for Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013

LSU President F. King Alexander was in Washington, D.C., last week to speak with other university presidents about the Higher Education Act, which expires at the end of the year.

Congress is expected to renew the act at some point next year.

The law provides federal funding to parents and schools through financial aid, scholarships, grants and tax credits.

Once back in Baton Rouge, Alexander had a positive message for those concerned about the current state of national politics: Despite the rancor and gridlock in Washington among Democrats and Republicans, the Higher Education Act is a nonpartisan issue, and has been that way going back a decade, he said.

“This discussion started a decade ago,” he said. “Measuring affordability and rewarding institutions for keeping students out of debt isn’t new. I testified on this back in 2005. I think both Democrats and Republicans are concerned about reform.”

Acadian Day makes for 4-day weekend

State employees will get a four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend thanks to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Jindal issued a proclamation declaring Friday, Nov. 29, as a legal state holiday: Acadian Day.

Jindal noted that governors traditionally declare the holiday that commemorates “the arrival in Louisiana of the Acadian people from the French colony Acadie following the ceding of that colony to England in 1713 and in recognition of the fact that much of the early economic and political development of Louisiana is directly attributable to the industry of the Acadian people. … ”

Lawmakers seek relief on flood premiums

A group of Louisiana lawmakers are attending the National Conference of Insurance Legislators meeting Thursday to discuss the effect of changes in the flood insurance program on Louisiana homeowners and businesses.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act aimed at shoring up the federal flood insurance program that paid out millions in claims, particularly after Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Many financiers require flood insurance as a condition for their loans. The changes, in many cases, increase the premium prices, particularly on properties considered flood prone that were built before the program was instituted.

State Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, said he would ask the conference to support a resolution asking to delay the start of the new program for two years until the Federal Emergency Management Agency completes its affordability study.

“We want our fellow state legislators to clearly understand what is at stake here,” Morrish, the chairman of the state Senate Insurance Committee, said in a prepared statement.

State Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, and state Rep. Gregory Cromer, R-Slidell, also will attend the national meeting in Nashville.

Leger marks ‘No Shave November’ for health

State Rep. Walt Leger III announced he would not shave in November to raise awareness of cancer and other men’s health issues.

Louisiana has the fourth-highest rate of deaths because of prostate cancer. Among African-Americans, the prostate cancer rate is 60 percent higher, said the Speaker Pro Tempore, the state House’s second-highest leadership position.

Leger, D-New Orleans, wants men to use “No Shave November” as a reminder to schedule a physical with their doctors and discuss prostate cancer testing.

He is posting photos that track progress of his facial hair on http://facebook.com/WaltLeger4LA.

Palin casts opinions on pope, politicians

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seemed to have an opinion about everyone — including Gov. Bobby Jindal — during her recent media blitz to promote her latest book.

She said Pope Francis was kind of liberal and that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s appearance is extreme.

She grouped Jindal in a category in which Palin places all Republicans possibly seeking a presidential nomination. As Palin told “Today” show host Matt Lauer: “I would never put my faith and hope in any one individual politician. Not any of them. There is no Ronald Reagan on the scene today.”

Back in 2008, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Jindal “the next Ronald Reagan.” A portrait of Reagan astride a horse graces Jindal’s office at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Former DOTD leader Movassaghi honored

Kam Movassaghi, former secretary of the state Department of Transportation and Development, made brief remarks last week when he was inducted into the state’s Hall of Honor.

Movassaghi jokingly noted that it was not easy having a “144-member board of directors and each one with a specific agenda,” a reference to the Legislature.

Teen leader nominees sought for recognition

The Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council is seeking nominations to honor some of the state’s young leaders for the fourth annual Leadership Awards.

The award was designed by members of the council to recognize youth leaders who served as a positive example and achieved a significant civic accomplishment.

Nominees must be between 14 and 19 years of age and a Louisiana resident.

Nomination forms are available online at http://civiced.louisiana.gov. The deadline for nominating a teen is Jan. 3.

Carrere replaces Polite on Civil Service panel

Gov. Bobby Jindal has appointed Ronald M. Carrere Jr., of New Orleans, to the State Civil Service Commission.

Carrere is a lender at Liberty Bank and Trust Company. He previously worked for the city of New Orleans in both the Workforce Development and Economic Development departments.

Carrere was nominated by the president of Xavier University to serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District, as required by state law.

He fills a vacancy on the seven-member commission created by the resignation of Kenneth Polite. Polite, a New Orleans lawyer, is the new U.S. attorney for the Eastern District based in New Orleans.

The commission oversees state government employment practices.

State retirement board members re-elected

Four members of the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System board have been re-elected to new terms.

Active LASERS members voted to give new four-year terms to Lori Pierce, of the Department of Treasury; Beverly Palmer Hodges, of the Department of Natural Resources; and Janice A. Lansing, of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Also re-elected without opposition to a two-year term was Port Allen City Court Judge William T. Kleinpeter.

Retired LASERS members elected incumbent Kathy Singleton, who retired from the Office of Community Service.

The 13-member policymaking board has fiduciary oversight over the pension plan.

LASERS covers more than 150,000 active and retired employees and their families and pays more than $1 billion in benefits annually to retirees and their beneficiaries.

Dardenne launches new political website

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has introduced a new political website.

The website, http://www.jay dardenne.com, includes a new design, social media features, news updates, a calendar of events and a media center.

In the coming weeks, Dardenne’s political operation said the website will offer “a unique social platform” that will allow supporters to connect directly on the website, recruit volunteers and solicit contributions. It also will host a text-messaging service, where users can receive updates on any mobile device about Dardenne and his political activities.

Dardenne, a Republican, is frequently mentioned as a 2015 governor’s race candidate.

Political Events

Monday, 10 a.m.: Joint Select Committee on Oversight of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility will consider a name change, BP settlements and fishery closures. House Room 4 at the State Capitol.

Monday, 11:45 a.m.: Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce’s new President and CEO Jason El Koubi will address the Acadiana Press Club about plans for Lafayette’s business community. At Abacus Banquets & Receptions, Jubilee Room, 530 West Pinhook Road, Lafayette. A lunch buffet is available for $12, not including beverages. Open to the public but only members and working media may ask questions.

More information at www.acadianapressclub.org.

Monday, 1:30 p.m.: Orleans Justice and Rehabilitation Reform Commission will receive presentations from the Office of Inspector General, Municipal Court and traffic court. Senate Committee Room E at the State Capitol.

Tuesday, 9 a.m.: House Select Committee on Homeland Security will discuss security at the Capitol, school safety and Camp Minden. House Room 3 at the State Capitol.

Wednesday, 5 p.m.: The 40th anniversary of Louisiana’s 1973 Constitutional Convention will be commemorated with a symposium sponsored by The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. The two-hour forum will feature firsthand accounts of the convention by former Govs. Edwin Edwards and Buddy Roemer, former Louisiana House Speaker Bubba Henry, former state Rep. Woody Jenkins, Mary Zervigon, retired federal judge Tom Stagg and Johnny Jackson Jr. — all of whom played a role. Holliday Forum of the Journalism Building on LSU’s campus. The forum is free and open to the public. However, those wishing to attend should RSVP by visiting www.cc73.eventbrite.com.

Thursday, 9 a.m.: Interim Emergency Board meets. Senate Committee Room E at the State Capitol.

Thursday, 10 a.m.: Gaming Control Board meets. House Room 1 at the State Capitol.

Thursday, 10 a.m.: State Bond Commission meets to discuss a $4 million loan for BREC and the bonding of unclaimed money in the state treasury for interstate work. Senate Committee Room A at the State Capitol.

Thursday, 10:15 a.m.: Minimum Foundation Program Task Force review of possible changes in how public schools are funded. Claiborne Building, Room 1-153, the Iowa Room.

Thursday, 11:30 a.m.: State Sen. Elbert Guillory, the state’s only black Republican legislator, will be the keynote speaker at the meeting of the Ascension GOP Roundtable. Guillory is serving as the honorary chairman of the Free at Last PAC, an effort to support black Republicans who run for federal office. Brew-Bachers’s Grill, 909 E. Ascension St., Gonzales. Cost for the meal is $14. The Roundtable is open to the public and guests are welcome. Reservations are requested. Phone (225) 644-5728 or e mail ARWrUS@aol.com.

Thursday, noon: Leaders With Vision’s public policy forum entitled “What does the Common Core initiative bring to the table?” Session will take place at Drusilla Place Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Thursday, 12:30 p.m.: Legislative Audit Advisory Council meets. House Committee Room 6 at the State Capitol.

Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Cash Management Review Board will get details on the state’s new Office of Debt Recovery. House Committee Room 3 at the State Capitol.

Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Joint Legislative Committee on Budgetary Procedure will discuss state budget issues in House Room 5 at the State Capitol.

Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial Commission will meet in accordance with Act 745 of 2010 at the Chalmette Battlefield Visitors Center, 8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette.

Thursday, 3:30 p.m.: Accountability Commission meets on student testing during transition to more rigorous public school courses. Claiborne Building, Room 1-153, Iowa Room.

Thursday, 6:30 p.m.: Michael R. Bertaut, health care economist and exchange coordinator for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, will address the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge at Drusilla Seafood Restaurant, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Suite D, Baton Rouge. Pachyderm meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information, visit the Pachyderms of GBR Facebook page.

Friday, 9:30 a.m.: Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget will look at Medicaid costs and museum donations in House Committee Room 5 at the State Capitol.

Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email is cnb@theadvocate.com.