September 20, 2007


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
The field has narrowed in the race for state Senate District 6. State Reps. Diane Winston and Alex Heaton withdrew from the race last Friday and a district judge ruled that same day that candidate Mary Lou McCall does not live in the district and therefore is ineligible to be a candidate for election. McCall, who had 24 hours in which to file a notice of appeal, did not do so. Remaining candidates are incumbent Julie Quinn, Doug Johnson, and Monica Monica.

Also on Friday, State Rep. Terrell Harris withdrew from the House District 87 race, as did Kent Smith. This leaves Girod Jackson unopposed.

In another court case, the First Circuit Court of Appeal overturned District Court Judge Don Johnson's ruling that state Senator Cleo Fields was eligible to run for re-election. Fields is expected to appeal the decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court and has 48 hours from the time of the ruling in which to ask for the review. A lawsuit was filed alleging that Fields is not eligible to run for re-election due to term limits. He was elected during a special election in December, 1997 and took the oath of office from the Secretary of State that same month but wasn't sworn in on the Senate floor until January. Attorneys for the plaintiffs contend that the oath on the floor of the Senate is merely ceremonial.

September 19, 2007


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
When qualifying ended on Thursday, September 6, 25 candidates for state representative were elected without opposition, 20 incumbents and 5 newcomers. Last week, two candidates withdrew from the District 87 race (New Orleans area), incumbent Terrell Harris and Kent Smith, handing the seat to newcomer Girod Jackson. This brings the total of newcomers to 6 and the total elected thus far to 26, unless there is a repeat of the District 87 scenario before the October 20 election.

Those returning are Reps. Wayne Waddell, Mike Powell, Hollis Downs, Don Cazayoux, Brett Geymann, Chuck Kleckley, Mickey Guillory, Joel Robideaux, Gordon Dove, Eddie Lambert, Karen St. Germain, Avon Honey, Hunter Greene, Harold Ritchie, John Labruzzo, Jim Tucker, Mert Smiley, Tim Burns, Juan Lafonta, and J. P. Morrell.

Newcomers are Mike Danahay, District 33 (currently held by Ronnie Johns); H. Bernard LeBas, District 38 (currently held by Eric Lafleur); Simone Champagne, District 49 (currently held by Troy Hebert); Patrick Connick, District 84 (currently held by N. J. Damico); Girod Jackson, District 87 (mentioned above) and Greg Cromer, District 90 (currently held by Pete Schneider).

This leaves 79 House seats to be decided in the October or November election .

September 04, 2007


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer

Louisiana's election season officially begins today. Qualifying for statewide offices, including Governor, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and all seats for the state House of Representatives and Senate runs today through Thursday. At the end of qualifying, candidates will have 43 days to campaign before the primary election of Saturday, October 20 with the run-off taking place Saturday, November 17.

Early voting, in person, (formerly absentee voting) begins October 8 and runs through October 13.

For more election information, including how to find out where you vote and which legislators are term limited and who is retiring, please visit the legislative Web site and click on "Election 2007."


by Jessica Braun
New passport requirements have complicated travel this summer, but they have also uncovered many deadbeat parents. Millions of travelers now need passports to fly back from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and South America, but the State Department denies passports to non-custodial parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support. Once a parent makes good on the debt, or pays it down to the threshold, they can reapply for a passport. In all, states have reported collecting at least $22.5 million through the program so far in 2007. The money is then forwarded to the parent to whom it is owed. Also contributing to the increased collections was a drop in the threshold for reporting child support debt to the State Department from $5,000 to $2,500.
In Louisiana, 116 passports were released last fiscal year and 20 so far this year, based upon payment of child support debt to an amount below the threshold. For example, in March, a payment of $4,200 was received so the parent could travel to the Bahamas (his new wife won a trip for two). In April, a payment of $11,300 was received so a parent could obtain a job requiring a passport; and in May, a payment of $29,699.36 was received so the parent could travel to Mexico. Therefore, this has proven to be a very effective collection tool for overdue child support. The state may also garnish wages, seize state and federal income tax refunds, and deduct delinquent payments from lottery and gaming winnings. Travelers beware, because another jump in collections is expected next year when the new passports requirements will likely take effect for land and sea travelers too.