Monday, November 06, 2006




Louisiana roads remain bumpy
Advocate Capitol News Bureau

Louisiana voters agreed in 1989 to another 4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax for up to 15 years to finance specific transportation projects.

This year lawmakers quietly extended the tax again — to 2047. That’s 58 years of tax instead of 15. And costs are still rising.

Former Gov. Buddy Roemer proposed the program to promote economic development. Roemer said what he did right was make a plan and get it going. The trouble now is that the state overall has no plan, he said.

LABI lobby backs Daniel in Senate race
Advocate Capitol News Bureau

State Rep. William Daniel has won the support of Louisiana’s largest business lobby in his bid for the state Senate.

EASTPAC, a political arm of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, wants the “proven conservative” to win the Dec. 9 special election to fill the rest of the term of Sen. Jay Dardenne, who will become secretary of state on Friday.

Daniel is a proven leader who has promoted “prosperity and economic growth” while in the Louisiana House, the political group said.


La Supreme Court reinstates case against Ag commissioner

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom is again facing theft, bribery and money laundering charges in a 2002 case revived Friday by the state Supreme Court.

Throwing out lower court rulings, the high court said the time limit for prosecuting Odom in the complex case had not expired and the state still has one year to bring him to trial.

A state grand jury indicted Odom in August 2002 on 21 counts that included extortion, bribery and money laundering.


Turnout low in statewide election
By Robert Travis Scott

BATON ROUGE -- Twice as many Democrats as Republicans voted in Louisiana's Sept. 30 election, but the only Democrat running for statewide office on that ballot won only 28 percent of the vote. In that same election, more white than black residents voted in Orleans Parish and in the 2nd Congressional District, areas with predominately African-American populations.

"The thing that's phenomenal, to me, is that the Democratic Party did not get behind Heitmeier and did not put anybody in the insurance commissioner race," said Greg Rigamer, chief executive of GCR & Associates, a New Orleans technology firm that monitors voting trends.

Rigamer said he expects the turnout trends in Tuesday's election will not be greatly different than the September election, which was on a Saturday. The weekday date, combined with mega-polling places in New Orleans, will dampen turnout, he predicted. African-American political organizations that before Katrina worked in communities to get out the vote will be less effective now, because of flooding and residential patterns, Rigamer said.

Mud-throwing more common than discussion of issues
High-stakes election is ho-hum to most locals
By Frank Donze

With billions of dollars in appropriations still needed to rebuild the hurricane-shattered region, the 21 candidates vying for three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives have come to share the mantra that southeast Louisiana desperately needs effective representation in Congress.

But as voters continue struggling to piece their lives back together, the races on Tuesday's ballot for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts have stirred little excitement at home, even as the high-stakes battle for control of the House dominates headlines nationwide.

Allstate wants to boost rates 55% on homeowners policies
Higher deductible on storm claims sought
By Ed Anderson

BATON ROUGE -- Allstate Insurance companies will be seeking higher rates, possibly average increases totaling 55 percent or more, for the "next several years" starting in 2007 and will increase the deductible on hurricane policies by 5 percent on homeowners qualified for wind and hail coverage, company officials said Friday.

Best route sought for commuter rail
News and views from the Louisiana Capitol

Louisiana Recovery Authority board member Sean Reilly said that the time has come for the state "to look very aggressively" at commuter rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Reilly said a $60 million plan proposed by the state Department of Transportation and Development to refurbish Kansas City Southern tracks to accommodate eight 300-passenger trains on weekdays might not be the best long-term solution. "We might be looking at the tracks because they are there, and that may not be the best," he said. The authority has launched a study to determine the feasibility of commuter or passenger service linking cities in south Louisiana, Reilly said, but its price tag could come in at $1 billion.

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