Attorney general’s budget faces hurdles

The Louisiana House took a possibly unprecedented stance last week when it approved a standalone appropriations bill, apart from the state budget, for the attorney general’s Justice Department.

The likelihood of HB 105 passing, though, is not great, based on more than a dozen interviews regarding the proposal.

The bill is now pending further action in the Senate, where it’ll probably be assigned to the Finance Committee for an initial hearing.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, for starters, said he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk. Yet he may never get the chance.

LaPolitics interviewed all 11 members of the Senate Finance Committee, not including its interim members, and found there were seven votes already in opposition and four that either said they needed to think about it or required more information.

“I am in favor of giving (Attorney General Jeff Landry) as much discretion as possible, but I don’t know if we should do it as a supplemental item outside of HB 1,” said Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, referencing the bill that houses the state operating budget.

There are also legal questions, with Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne telling lawmakers a breakaway budget may be unconstitutional.

Corporate tax collections now net positive

After months of stories in the Louisiana media about how the state is paying out more in credits and exemptions than it is collecting in corporate franchise and income taxes, collections have finally hit a cumulative net positive and are expected to finish out the fiscal year that way.

As of the end of April, collections are at $135 million, which includes tax amnesty payments. (The Revenue Department includes amnesty in its count, whereas the Legislative Fiscal Office does not.)

Greg Albrecht, the state’s chief economist, said he expects June to come to a close with $354 million in corporate taxes collected for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The figure grows to $420 million for the fiscal year when amnesty payments are included.

As for what May and June might bring, Albrecht said there could be a boost on the way in the form of the tax changes that were passed during the 2015 regular session.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” he said.Fleming goes on TV, Maness respondsCongressman John Fleming of Minden became the first U.S. Senate candidates to put a paid spot up on television earlier and the resulting conversation from the campaign trail previews what will be the so-called “conservative primary” in this race.

The commercial, called “Not Easy,” is largely a bio piece that’s running on FOX News channels statewide. But it was this line that caught the attention of retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness of Mandeville, a fellow Republican who, in response, went on the attack: “(Fleming has) even taken on his own party – leading the way in removing John Boehner as Speaker of the House. It wasn’t easy. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Maness campaign manager Andrew Surabian put out this statement: “It’s disappointing that John Fleming’s first TV ad contains a complete falsehood.

While most members of the House Freedom Caucus actually voted against John Boehner for Speaker, John Fleming voted for Boehner three times!”

It’s another in what will be a long line of dustups between the two men who are both running to the right of the field and looking to out-conservative each other.

The noisiest hits, though, are more likely to come from Maness, aimed at Fleming, than the other way around. Fayard pulls from old Dem Senate campaignsDenham Springs attorney Caroline Fayard has assembled her U.S. Senate campaign team and is relying heavily on key staffers from Louisiana’s Democratic Senate campaigns of yesteryear.

Fayard has three top aides who worked to re-elect former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu over the last few terms.

Fayard’s senior campaign advisor is T. Bradley Keith, who served as Landrieu’s state director for 15 years. Her political director is Angele Wilson-Gant, who served as political advisor for Landrieu during her last three Senate races.

The Fayard campaign’s finance director is Jordan Mitchell, who served in the same capacity for Landrieu’s re-election campaign in 2014.

Then there’s former U.S. Sen. John Breaux. His one-time projects assistant is Mary Dawn Pugh, who will be working as Fayard’s policy director and scheduler.

Reaching much further back, Fayard has hired as her media consult Dane Strother, who has helped elect every single Democratic U.S. senator from Louisiana since he worked for the late Russell Long in 1980.

Showing that she doesn’t need a clean sweep, Fayard has also tapped Michael Walker as her campaign manager.

Walker most recently served as the 2015 campaign manager for the Chris Tyson for secretary of state campaign.They Said It“Sometimes we suffer from mental constipation and we may need a laxative.” —State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, on the legislative process“Thank you for that very fine speech.”—Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, to Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, after cutting Morris’ mic on and off “Finding a project in HB 2 is the equivalent of finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.”—Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City “If you’re term limited and you have a good Julie in your district, we’re willing to come and make a visit.”—Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, taking questions from Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, regarding what they have dubbed “The Julie Caucus”

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