State legislators gather for three-month session

By Howell Dennis

The 2008 legislative session began Monday afternoon with a joint session speech by Governor Bobby Jindal. The three-month long session began at noon and will have to be adjourned by June 23.

The topic on most people’s minds is whether Jindal’s “honeymoon” period will continue or will legislators will begin to push their own agendas.

Jindal, who was sworn in on January 14, has already been through two special sessions where most of his proposals received overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats alike. The financial disclosure by elected officials, strengthening lobbying rules and accelerating business tax breaks were among Jindal’s proposals that won approval.

Political experts have said that Jindal’s capturing of 54 percent of the vote in the October 20 primary along with inheriting a $1.1 billion budget surplus, combine to enhance his political “honeymoon”.

“Governor Jindal is working a honeymoon with a rare combination of an electoral mandate, a budget surplus and a disproportionate number of new legislators,” said Wayne Parent, an LSU professor of political science, in an e-mail response to questions.

However some Democrats said it is all but inevitable that Jindal’s agenda will start receiving more legislative resistance, especially because the governor cannot control regular-session agendas as well as the special sessions that he calls.

“I think it’s going to be different,” Broome said. “Not necessarily adversarial, but a lot more dialogue.”

Another factor in Jindal’s political honeymoon is the fact that term limits have produced wholesale changes in the Legislature, where many elected officials are still in a learning mode.

Of the 105 members in the House, 59 are new members. The Senate’s 39 members include four new faces and 18 who are in their first term.

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