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Mary Landrieu, Bill Cassidy set for Monday night debate, have different plans for media afterward

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., right, and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, participate in a Senate race debate with Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite Rob Maness  on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy are set for their one and only debate before the Dec. 6 runoff. The debate will be televised live Monday at 7 p.m. After the debate, Landrieu and Cassidy have different plans for addressing reporters. Check out our politics blog for more details.… Continue reading →

Presidential primary poll: Bobby Jindal far behind competition, but U.S. News analysis has good news for him

Gov. Bobby Jindal is shown in this June 2, 2014, Advocate file photo.

The good news for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is that, if he decides to run for president, his seat as the state's leader could aid him, according to a new U.S. News and World Report analysis. The bad news, according to a new presidential primary poll, is that Jindal trails Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Florida Gov.… Continue reading →

Number of Louisiana public schoool advisory committees explodes: Why so many?

The number of public school advisory committees has exploded in recent years, which means education debates rage for months before and after the Legislature grapples with the same issues. One special panel is wrestling with the rollout of a state law that overhauls Louisiana’s special education rules, which is in addition to a standing… Continue reading →

Orleans Parish School Board asking voters to approve rededication of existing tax for upkeep of new school buildings

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A group called

The Orleans Parish School Board will be asking local voters on Dec. 6 to approve a proposition allowing the board to use some of the tax dollars it already collects to pay for long-term upkeep of the city’s new school buildings. None of this seems controversial, at first. In fact, the proposition would not even change… Continue reading →

Judge sets early voting lawsuit hearing

A state district judge Tuesday rejected a West Monroe legislator’s attempt to extend early voting for the Dec. 6 election. 19th Judicial Court Judge Todd Hernandez denied a temporary restraining order and set a Dec. 4 trial date in an in-chamber’s session. “It was not unexpected,” said state Rep. Marcus Hunter, a Democrat, who argued shortening… Continue reading →

Crowd gathers for peaceful Michael Brown memorial on LSU campus

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- LSU senior Nygel Anderson speaks during the protest after students gathered Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at LSU's Greek Theatre during a candlelight vigil held in memory of Michael Brown and recent events in Ferguson, Mo., regarding his death.

More than 200 people gathered on LSU’s campus Wednesday night to hold a memorial for Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown and others whose deaths they believe illustrate tensions between law enforcement and the black community. A white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Brown, who was black, in the middle of a street in August, setting off… Continue reading →

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal scheduled to be in Virginia on election day

On the Dec. 6 runoff election day, Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to speak to the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual gathering of party activists. That state’s Republican activists meet for seminars and speeches at what is called the Donald W. Huffman Advance. Huffman was chairman of Virginia’s Republicans. Continue reading full story on the… Continue reading →

Some La. communities support corporal punishment in public schools

The Louisiana Department of Education showed 4,460 reported incidents of corporal punishment against students in the 2011-2012 school year, according to an analysis by The Huffington Post. That calculates out to a rate 6.3 incidents of paddling or other physical punishments meted out in the state’s public schools per thousand students. Continue reading full story on… Continue reading →

Mobile pet shelter coming

Construction is expected to begin in December on a mobile pet shelter which will be ready for use by the 2015 hurricane season, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain said Monday. “The benefit of a mobile pet shelter is immediate onsite sheltering and care of pets affected by a disaster, the ease of safe transport of… Continue reading →

Hunter filing lawsuit over early voting

State Rep. Marcus Hunter will seek an expedited hearing when he files a lawsuit challenging shortened early voting for the Dec. 6 elections. “I’m hoping to have it heard Tuesday or Wednesday before the judges take off for Thanksgiving,” said Hunter, D-West Monroe. Hunter objects to Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s eliminating two official state holidays… Continue reading →

Coming this week: Edwin Edwards to start TV, radio campaign ads

Photo provided by ARI B. KRUPKIN -- Former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards spoons coffee into son Eli's mouth at his campaign headquarters in Baton Rouge. Edwards' wife, Trina, is holding Eli.

Republican congressional candidate Garret Graves didn’t participate in a 6th District forum on Monday, leaving the door open for Democratic opponent and former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards to mount an unchallenged attack against the former Jindal appointee. “I don’t like to talk about people in their absence, though it’s his fault that he’s not here,” Edwards said… Continue reading →

Texas Gov. Rick Perry to campaign for Rep. Bill Cassidy in Louisiana on Tuesday

Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks about the costs of  illegal immigration in his state during a press conference at the Republican governors conference in Boca Raton, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. The organization's annual conference began Wednesday in a luxury oceanside resort where the nation's Republican governors are celebrating their party's recent success in the midterm elections while privately jockeying for position as the 2016 presidential contest looms. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will campaign for Rep. Bill Cassidy in Louisiana on Tuesday. Cassidy is also scheduled to cast his early ballot Tuesday. Check out our politics blog to find out where Cassidy and Perry will campaign.… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Louisiana Rep. Marcus Hunter files lawsuit, objects to shortened early voting because of holidays

 State Rep. Marcus Hunter

Louisiana Rep. Marcus Hunter said the state is trying to limit voting by eliminating two of the seven early-voting days because of holidays. Hunter, D-Monroe, said he's hoping to have the case heard Tuesday or Wednesday. Election Day is Dec. 6. Check out our politics blog for more details.… Continue reading →

Critics hopeful influential panel will suggest major changes to Bobby Jindal-backed teacher-evaluation law

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Four years after the state overhauled the way teachers are evaluated, critics hope to reopen the debate and trim the weight given to student test scores. Some of the same officials who vehemently opposed the law pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal say they hope that an influential panel studying the issue will recommend major… Continue reading →

Solar energy heats PSC debate

Eric Skrmetta; Forest Bradley-Wright

Eric Skrmetta and Forest Bradley Wright, the two candidates in the Dec. 6 runoff for the District 1 seat on the state Public Service Commission, are as diametrically opposed on the topic of alternative energy as two people can be. Wright is an advocate for alternative energy — that derived from nontraditional sources such as… Continue reading →

Capitol Buzz -- Report: Group Benefits revisions could be costly

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Huey P. Long's statue and grave in front of the State Capitol Building.

A new Legislative Fiscal Office analysis concludes that the latest revisions to the state health insurance program ease some of the out-of-pocket expenses of its 230,000 state employee, teacher, retiree and dependent members. Under the original revamp, Fiscal Office director Travis McIlwain projected average out-of-pocket costs to increase by 47 percent over current Group Benefits health… Continue reading →

Why Bill Cassidy’s low-key strategy to defeat Mary Landrieu seems to be working

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Bill Cassidy's election results party on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

— Chances are that Republican Bill Cassidy doesn’t consult an actual game plan that spells out how he can unseat Democrat Mary Landrieu in the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana that will be decided Dec. 6. But if he were doing so, it could read something like this: For the… Continue reading →

Early voting starts Saturday for senator, other Dec. 6 contests

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., at a ceremonial investiture for new U.S. Attorney Walt Green, aAugust 1, 2014 at Russell B. Long Federal Building and Courthouse.

Early voting begins Saturday for the Dec. 6 runoff election in which voters statewide will choose between incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Bill Cassidy for a U.S. Senate seat and decide many other contests. Early voting will continue daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 29 at parish registrar of voters offices… Continue reading →

Vacant jobs eliminated to help balance the state budget

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols

The Jindal administration eliminated 167 vacant positions and found some extra dollars to balance the budget halfway through the fiscal year. “None of the positions that were taken were filled,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief budgetary adviser, said Friday. “The bottom line is we protected higher ed. We protected health care. There were… Continue reading →

‘Daily Show’ takes on Mary Landrieu, Keystone XL efforts

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Keystone XL oil pipeline bill sponsor, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The U.S. Senate has rejected a proposal to fast-track the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Jon Stewart, on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” poked fun at Louisiana’s U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her unsuccessful effort this week to get the Senate to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. See the clip here.… Continue reading →

State changing Medicaid contracts

Kathy Kliebert

The Jindal administration won’t renew a contract with Magellan of Louisiana to coordinate services for poor residents with mental health and addictive disorder problems. Instead of the one company caring for Medicaid patients’ maladies, such as drug addiction, schizophrenia and other behavioral problems, the care will be covered by the five private insurance… Continue reading →

Diabetes costly for Louisiana

Associated Press file photoA diabetic tests his blood-sugar level in 2009.

Direct and indirect costs of diabetes in Louisiana hit $5.4 billion annually, which an economic impact study released Thursday by the American Diabetes Association called alarming. The new statistical data puts the national price tag at $322 billion associated with medical costs and lost productivity — 48 percent higher than just five years prior.… Continue reading →