Net privacy issue will return to Capitol

By Sarah Gamard, Mitch Rabalais & Jeremy Alford

This year and last there were bills filed in about 25 states to address privacy issues with internet service providers, and all of them were brought about by President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse a set of rules enacted by his predecessor.

The recently-adjourned regular session placed Louisiana in that category, and like practically every bill introduced in the other states the one floated here failed to gain traction.

Still lawmakers in the Bayou State and elsewhere are attempting to double their efforts to keep service providers from giving away or selling customers’ personal information without permission.

HB 679 by Rep. Edmund Jordan, D-Brusly, was spiked by the House Commerce Committee, but would have saddled providers with such a customer approval stipulation, among other provisions.

Jordan told LaPolitics that he’s planning to revisit the issue during the 2019 regular session and is already working with national partners on the legislation. He didn’t disclose who those patterns are, but he did say they would be visible during the next regular session.

Reflecting on last month’s hearing, Jordan said his bill drowned in the disapproval of telecommunications companies.

“It interferes with their business model,” said Jordan. “They sell that information to other people. Of course they’re going to rise in opposition.”

A representative from the D.C.-based State Privacy and Security Coalition, which sent a spokesperson to testify against Jordan’s bill, took the position that Louisiana would have become the only state with an “additional regulatory burden,” since nearly 30 other states considered similar regulations and rejected them.

The coalition represents 23 communications companies and six trade associations.

Scalise to campaign aggressively

U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish will maintain a robust national campaign schedule this fall while stumping for Republican congressional candidates, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to phone it in back in Louisiana.

Jason Hebert of the Baton Rouge-based Political Firm said the whip will leverage his nearly $2 million war chest for a tradition media buy later this year as well as direct mail, digital outreach, print advertising and more.

“He never takes anything for granted,” said Hebert, a Scalise campaign consultant.

Scalise already has three challengers. Two are Democrats, including Jim Francis and Dr. Tammy Savoie. Then there’s Libertarian Howard Kearney, who is trying to flank Scalise from the right.

All, though, are attempting to paint Scalise as an out-of-touch politico neglecting the district for his national obligations.

“Our leaders have stopped listening to the people,” Savoie said in her campaign announcement.

While Savoie and Francis point to the shocking 2014 defeat of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a case study, others are quick to dismiss such notions.

“It can be a problem if you’re not paying enough attention to the home folks,” former Congressman Bob Livingston told LaPolitics.

“Eric Cantor did think he was totally secure and paid too much attention to national politics, but Steve is a unique case. I don’t think he has a problem at all.”

In a separate interview, former Congressman Billy Tauzin added, “Louisiana has always been generous about its members seeking higher office.

Being in leadership makes it a lot easier to do things for your people. While it is a tough assignment, you have so much opportunity.”

Political History: Zachary Taylor and White House cuisine

Earlier this year, a minor controversy erupted in Louisiana over the “jambalaya” served at President Donald Trump’s State Dinner at the White House. But long before Trump and his guests feasted on that rice dish, another commander-in-chief brought Cajun and Creole food to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Zachary Taylor, our nation’s 12th president, is the only Louisiana resident to ever occupy the White House. Even though Taylor was born in Virginia and spent his early years in Kentucky, he developed an attachment to the Bayou State while stationed at military posts in New Orleans, Natchitoches and Baton Rouge during his distinguished career in the Army. Interestingly enough, Taylor and his family eventually settled in a plantation home that historians believe was located on the present-day grounds of the State Capitol.

But before he jumped from Louisiana’s capital to Capitol Hill, Taylor made his name south of the border. When tensions heated up between the U.S. and Mexico over a Texas territorial dispute in 1846, the general and his men were ordered to the Rio Grande. During the subsequent war with Mexico, he won decisive battlefield victories against larger forces at Buena Vista and Monterrey. Press reports were filled with stories of Taylor’s heroism, along with the adoration of his troops, who nicknamed their commander “Old Rough and Ready.”

When Taylor returned home to Baton Rouge, he was greeted by a steady stream of well-wishers and political influencers, who implored the celebrity commander to jump into the presidential race. Taylor, a self-proclaimed independent who had never voted in his life, was reluctant at first, but accepted the nomination of the Whig party.

Taylor himself never left Louisiana during the fall campaign, choosing to stay home and let other Whigs speak on his behalf. Notably, one of Taylor’s surrogates was a young congressman from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln. In the general election, Taylor defeated both U.S. Sen. Lewis Cass of Michigan, the Democratic nominee, and former President Martin Van Buren, who had launched a third party effort.

When the Taylors moved into the White House, they brought their recipes with them, having the kitchen staff prepare them a plethora of Louisiana dishes, including gumbo and jambalaya. According to the White House Historical Association, the president’s favorite was beignets, although he preferred to eat them as a dessert rather than breakfast.

Unfortunately, the good times (and food) did not last long, as Taylor contracted cholera at a fundraiser and died in office on July 9, 1850.



About Jeremy Alford 227 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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