Mandatory parenting classes being considered

By Jeremy Alford and John Maginnis

Should new parents be required by law to attend special classes before being permitted to raise their child? It’s an idea state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is seriously considering.

“Right now we’re looking at what other states have done and thinking about who should be included and what the classes should cover,” she told in an interview last week. “I recognize that not everyone knows what to do when they bring that child home. It could make a big difference, especially with a single parent.”

Barrow said she also realizes that she could face opposition from critics arguing that the proposal infringes upon basic rights.

“In order to enter any profession you have to take a test. To get a driver’s license, you have to pass a test,” she added. “And when you think about it, this is about shaping another life. You need the right tools to do that.”

The issue, however, is far from settled and she said the idea is still in the conceptual stages.John Kennedy has decision to makeIf U.S. Sen. David Vitter enters the 2015 governor’s race, GOP eyes will turn to Treasurer John Kennedy, who remains interested in, but uncommitted, to the race. Vitter is expected to make a final decision in January.

With Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne intending to run, is there room on the ballot for a third statewide-elected Republican official?

The four-term treasurer, who declared for governor in 2003 before dropping out, has said that Vitter’s decision would not affect his, but there is no doubt that the senator’s candidacy would have a big impact on Kennedy’s potential bid.

More so than Dardenne, Vitter and Kennedy share a following among the fiscal conservative wing of the GOP. Both have been the strongest Republican critics of Gov. Bobby Jindal, just as they operated as a tag team in slamming former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s hurricane recovery and spending policies.

With $2.3 million in his campaign account as of the end of last year, Kennedy, 62, can afford to bide his time and watch how Vitter fares as an early frontrunner. If the senator does not stumble, the treasurer might pick the opportune time to endorse him and run for re-election as treasurer.

Yet there’s another scenario to consider. If elected, Vitter’s first official act would be to appoint someone to finish the last year of his Senate term. That prospect makes giddy dozens in politics who aspire to be the chosen one.It seems only logical that as a candidate Vitter would use the potential appointment to his electoral advantage.

Already, pols and pundits largely agree that the smart choice for him—politically—would be Kennedy, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2008.

He placed second behind Vitter in a recent statewide governor’s poll and draws from the same conservative voter pool. The scenario would be that Kennedy at some point declares he is not running and endorses Vitter, who wins and appoints Kennedy senator, who then would be the odds-on favorite to win a full term in 2016.

Dust off the Internet sales tax issueJust in time for the holidays, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case out of New York involving a law that was passed by state legislators there requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes for internet purchases.

While the decision is more than a stone’s throw away from Louisiana, parish level officials were buzzing earlier this month about the tax money to be had, exchanging emails with links to different stories and discussing what the state Legislature needs to do.

“I believe this really opens up some new possibilities for our state and our parishes,” said one longtime lawmaker. “I’ve already been contacted by my parish president.”

So how much does Louisiana lose by not being able to collect online sales taxes? The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates $800 million of sales tax revenue annually in Louisiana is not collected and remitted by internet vendors. Another study by the University of Tennessee found that Louisiana probably lost out on closer to $440 million in online sales taxes in 2012.

Up until now, even Gov. Bobby Jindal was saying that forcing online retailers to collect sales taxes and remit them back to states and their counties/parishes was something Congress had to do. But this new move, or lack thereof, by the Supremes changes the dynamics of the debate. The U.S. Senate has passed a bill addressing online sales taxes, but it’s probably stalled in the House.

The Louisiana Legislature, meanwhile, can’t vote on tax proposals in an even-numbered year, so such a proposal would have to wait until 2015. Or Jindal could call a special session if the issue heats up and increased revenues look more likely.


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