Tuesday, 18 January 2011 19:44

Louisiana Politics: Buddy Shaw, Reapportionment, BGR, New Orleans Assessor

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Louisiana Politics: Sen. B.L. Shaw will not run again for the Senate.  Reapportionment coming; BGR settles with New Orleans (Orleans Parish) assessor's office.

Stop the Presses!
By Lou Gehrig Burnett

Shaw surprise
    Republican state Sen. B.L. “Buddy” Shaw paid me a visit on Saturday to reveal that he is not going to run again for the Senate District 37 seat.   He is completing his first term as a senator and could run two more times before being term-limited.
    But Shaw pointed out that he served eight years in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1996 to 2004 and that the one term in the Senate gives him 12 years of service.
    “I was, and am, a big proponent of term limits.  When I voted for a limit of 12 years for state legislators, I took that to mean one could serve only that amount of time in one or both bodies.  I feel very strongly about that,” Shaw said.
***Fax-Net Exclusive***    
    He also noted the wear and tear on a legislator from this area who has to make the long trip to Baton Rouge and back many times during the session as well as when the Legislature is not in session for committee meetings.
    Shaw is 78, and if he were to serve another term, he would be 82 by the end of that term.  “My health is good,” he said, “and I want to be free to spend more time with family and friends and do things I want to do.”
    He said that he and his wife, Mary Ann, who went door-to-door with him during the last campaign, talked over the pros and cons and made their decision.
    Most politicos saw Shaw, a former principal, as unbeatable if he ran  for another term.  He is regarded as having the highest integrity by his legislative colleagues, his  constituents, and those who know him.
    With Shaw giving up the political plum of Senate District 37, it is likely several potential candidates will now emerge.
    In 2007, Shaw’s opponents were Billy Montgomery (R), Barrow Peacock (R), Jay Murrell (R), and Sheva Sims (D).  Whether any of them decide to run remains to be seen.
    Other names already being mentioned include state Rep. Jane Smith, R-Bossier, who is term-limited in the House; and state Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, who is completing his first term.  There will likely be others.

Nail-biting time
    When new Census figures are revealed every 10 years, governmental entities – from Congress to states to cities – must reapportion their representational districts.  It’s that time again.
    The unenviable and difficult task falls to each state’s Legislature, which redraws the lines for themselves, state Supreme Court justices, appellate  court judges, members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), the Public Service Commission -- and, of course, Congress.
     The Louisiana Legislature will go into a Special Session from March 20 through April 3 to do just that.
    There is nothing more sacrosanct than an elected official’s home turf, the area from which he was elected. It is, therefore, understandable that redistricting can be a nail-biting experience for many elected officials.
    After the 1990 Census, Louisiana went from eight to seven U.S. House seats.  It was a wild plan that the Legislature put forth.  The 8th District, represented by Republican Clyde Holloway, was eliminated.
    The 4th District, represented by Republican Jim McCrery, and the 5th District, represented by Democrat Jerry Huckaby were combined so a majority-black district could be created for African-American  Democrat Cleo Fields, a state senator.
    The infamous district became known as the “Zorro District” because it zigzagged in a Z shape through 28 parishes and five of Louisiana’s largest cities – Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Monroe, and Shreveport – providing Fields with a 63% black district.
Fields won the election.  In the process, Holloway and Huckaby were unable to retain their Congressional  seats.  Fields served two terms in Congress while a challenge to the redistricting plan made its way through the courts.
    Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the new 4th District as unconstitutional.  The seven Congressional districts were eventually redrawn to basically resemble the way they were before the outlandish redistricting plan concocted by the Legislature.
    Now comes the 2010 Census, and Louisiana will lose another Congressional seat, going from seven to  six. The state didn’t lose population over the last  decade, but it grew by only 1.4%.  Other states grew more and will gain U.S. House seats, the number of which is set at 435 for the entire country.
    Currently in Louisiana, each Congressional district has about 640,000 people.  With one less district, that number will increase to about 755,000 people for each of the districts of the six congressmen.
    The state’s population stands at 4,533,372.  Each  of the 39 state Senate seats must contain at 116,240 persons.  Each of the 105 state House seats must have at least 43,175 persons.
    The numbers haven’t changed much since 2000,  but there will be some needed changes in geographical lines because of the loss of population in New Orleans and in coastal parishes, such as St. Bernard and Plaquemines, thanks to Hurricane Katrina.
It will be interesting to see what happens in northwest Louisiana because Bossier Parish will undoubtedly emerge as one of the parishes with significant growth.  Lafayette and Baton Rouge are predicted to have increases in their populations, as well.
    Currently, some Senate and House districts are  split between Caddo/Shreveport and Bossier.  It could result in Bossier gaining clout in some of those districts.
    The population figures for parishes and municipalities won’t be released by the Census Bureau until February 3.  Once received, public hearings will be held around the state prior to the Legislature going into its Special Session.
    A nail-biter for Shreveport will be whether the city reaches the magic 200,000 population mark when the new Census figures are released, which is critical when it comes to federal aid and other benefits.
    Shreveport officials put forth a Herculean effort 10 years ago to reach the 200,000 mark after Census figures showed the city fell short of that number.  The city prevailed in its appeal.
    City councils around the state reapportion their  own districts, and the same holds true for parish governmental entities, such as school boards and police juries.
    An aside: While losing a U.S. House seat diminishes Louisiana’s clout in Congress, that loss of a seat will be offset by the fact that five of the six House members are Republicans.
    With the GOP in the majority, good committee seats will give the five Republican congressmen more clout.

*************A  D V  E  R  T  I  S  E  M  E  N  T***************
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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new analysis showing that, without the Affordable Care Act, up to 2 million non-elderly Louisiana residents who have some type of pre-existing health condition, like heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis or cancer, would be at risk of losing health insurance when they need it most, or be denied coverage altogether.  Across the country, up to 129 million Americans would be at risk.

Under the full range of policies in the Affordable Care Act to be enacted by 2014, Americans living with pre-existing conditions are free from discrimination and can get the health coverage they need, and families are free from the worry of having their insurance cancelled or capped when a family member gets sick, or going broke because of the medical costs of an accident or disease.  Repealing the law would once again leave millions of Americans worrying about whether coverage will be there when they need it.  

Sebelius comments are in response to the Republican attempt to repeal the health care act passed last year.

¬ Congressman John Fleming, M.D. announced today that House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) has named him Chairman of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs. The subcommittee is responsible for wildlife resources, coastal zone management/barrier protection, fisheries, marine monuments and oceanography including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Lunch With the League
WHERE?  at Drusilla Seafood,
3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809
 January 20, 2011  Networking:  11:30 a.m. Program at Noon
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED - Your menu item will be selected when you arrive
Lunch With the League
WHERE?  at Drusilla Seafood,
3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809
 January 20, 2011  Networking:  11:30 a.m. Program at Noon
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED - Your menu item will be selected when you arrive
the ABC_s of Redistricting of Louisiana   
Citizens are invited to join in this dialog with knowledgeable panelists and to anticipate
more effectively in the upcoming public hearings scheduled around the state from
Feb. 17 to March 1 and give their opinions on the re-shaping of congressional districts,
since Louisiana has lost one congressional seat for the next congressional election.  
Also, the Louisiana House and Senate, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the
Public Service Commission, the Louisiana Supreme Court and the State Courts of Appeal districts will be redrawn,
THIS will have an effect on EVERY Louisiana citizen.
Speakers on the panel are:
    Alfred Speer, Clerk of the Louisiana House of Representatives
    Elliot Stonecipher, Demographic Research/Owner of Evets Management
   Dr. Albert Samuels, Author and Assistance Professor, Southern University
Ruth Ulrich, Newly elected Vice-Chair, Republican National Committee
Kevin Franck, Communications Director, Louisiana Democratic Party

We hope to see all of our members who can attend the debate.
Tickets may be purchased online with a credit card at Pay for Lunch Here
or Call 225-927-2255 or email [email protected] to make your Reservation and
Cash or Checks are accepted at the door.
Members may
Pay Your 2010-2011 Dues Here
or send your dues check to:
P.O. Box 3956
Baton Rouge, LA 70821

BGR Settlement

 The Bureau of Governmental Research has settled the lawsuit it filed against the Orleans Parish Board of Assessors for its failure to turn over public records at a reasonable price.
Beginning in March 2010, BGR made numerous attempts to obtain a user-friendly version of the local property tax roll from the assessors. The assessors responded to BGR’s requests by asking unreasonable charges for producing the information, going as high as $12,779. BGR took the position that the charges bore no relationship to the actual cost incurred to create the copy, and therefore violated the Louisiana Public Records Act.
In order to move forward with research that depends on obtaining the tax roll, BGR settled with the newly installed single assessor on terms acceptable to the organization. BGR agreed to pay $1,343 for the information, and the assessor agreed to pay BGR’s court costs.
“The price BGR has agreed to pay still exceeds the actual cost of producing the records, but it’s time to move forward,” said Scott Willis, BGR’s chairman. “The settlement allows BGR to proceed in a timely manner with important research on the local tax base.”

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