Louisiana Politics: Refinery tax being 'vetted'

By JEREMY ALFORD LaPolitics.com

With some lawmakers already getting cold feet over the idea of a personal income tax change in 2017, a small circle of political players are starting to look at a concept that is being described as a refinery tax.
It’s relatively new to ongoing tax conversations, but sources with the Edwards administration say the Revenue Department is “vetting the idea” while not actually taking a firm stance on it.
One of the working concepts involves a swap for the elimination or reduction of the severance tax.
But nothing is concrete at this point, and it would certainly be a non-starter with the business lobby unless there are some gigantic sweeteners — and even then it’s a long shot.
“It may or may not even happen,” said state Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, who’s working on the concept. “I’m still looking at all the numbers. It’s not a shot at our refineries and I don’t want to put them at a disadvantage. I want to make it a win-win.”

Who's next secretary
at Wildlife & Fisheries?
Who will be the new wildlife secretary?
Since Charlie Melancon’s abrupt — but somewhat expected — resignation as wildlife and fisheries secretary last week, speculation has been building over who will replace him.
Administration sources say that, as of last Thursday morning, Gov. John Bel Edwards had “no clue” on who he wanted to fill the job.
Edwards was said to be just beginning the process of finding a replacement.

List for treasurer grows
After losing her bid for the U.S. Senate this year, Democratic attorney Caroline Fayard is among the many names being urged to look at the special election for treasurer, which has so far been dominated by an avalanche of Republican contenders.
“I haven’t made any decisions,” she said, noting the election won’t be held until October and everyone is still recovering from the 2016 cycle.
State Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, meanwhile, is out of the running.
“Given that the state coastal master plan is going to need some extra attention this year, and the challenges with the budget, I have to be focused on my legislative district right now,” he said.
But you can add Republican Angele Davis of Baton Rouge, the president and CEO of the Davis Kelley Group, to the list. She’s thinking about the race.
Reporter Julia O’Donoghue over at NOLA.com has included a few other new possibilities in her recent reporting as well, including state Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte; state Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, D-New Orleans; and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness.
Like Fayard and Maness, Derrick Edwards, a New Orleans attorney and quadriplegic, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate this year, but Edwards actually put out a press release last week stating he will be a candidate for treasurer.
State Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, has been in the field the longest and is already building a campaign team. State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Metairie, has started raising money and brought in a six-figure haul at an event last week.

Another EWE book in works
Baton Rouge author Leo Honeycutt said in a recent interview that another book about former Gov. Edwin Edwards is already in the works.
Honeycutt and Edwards last collaborated on “Edwin Edwards: Governor of Louisiana,” which was released in 2009.
“Remember, I had 1,200 pages on the cutting room floor from book one,” said Honeycutt.
Edwards was actually back in the headlines last week after he was hospitalized for a bout of pneumonia. Edwards is now recovering and back home.
Honeycutt, meanwhile, still has to finish his current book project on LSU great Skip Bertman before he can dedicate his time fully to his next book on Edwards.

Political history:
First Creole governor
Last Friday marked the 200th anniversary of Jacques Phillippe Villeré being sworn in as the second governor of Louisiana.
Although Villeré was not the first to hold state’s premier office, he was the first Louisiana native to be elected to the post and the first Creole to serve in the position.
By today’s map of Jefferson Parish, Villeré was born in Kenner and went on to govern during a time when Louisiana’s economy was booming and its population was on the rise as a new state. Open trade along the Mississippi River was key to Villeré’s success on both of these fronts.
Villeré’s four-year term is also where you’ll find disputes between Anglo-Americans and native Creoles starting to take root. The Legislature even waded into the clash of cultures by publishing all laws in French and English. It was a divide that dominated state politics for many of the years that followed.
From a policy perspective, you have Villeré to thank for dueling-related deaths being classified as a capital offense. But that is certainly not his greatest policy accomplishment. Before he was Louisiana’s second governor, Villeré helped draft the state’s first constitution and actually ran to become the first governor in 1812 — he lost in a landslide to William C. C. Claiborne.
Villeré ran again for governor in 1824, but lost. He was preparing to make a bid yet again in 1830 in a special election, but died on his St. Bernard Parish plantation before that campaign could get underway.

They said it
“‘Want to know how to live a long and happy life? Never hold a grudge.’”
—Author Leo Honeycutt, sharing advice he received from Edwin Edwards, in the Times-Picayune
“There’s a better chance of (star running back) Leonard Fournette coming back to LSU for his senior season than us not having to come back with $300 million or more in cuts.”
—Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, in The Monroe News-Star
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.

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