Jindal wants ‘common sense’ in Congress
Published 12:00 am Monday, October 9, 2006
LaPlace Rotary hosts lawmaker
By KEVIN CHIRI
LAPLACE – U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) may still be one of the new kids on the block in Congress, but it hasn’t stopped him from making some concise evaluations of just what goes on at Capitol Hill.
Jindal was the guest speaker at the LaPlace Rotary Club meeting this past Tuesday at Bull’s Corner Restaurant, and talked to the group of local business people about what he sees as a problem in Congress about simple “common sense” when it comes to the laws of the land.
Jindal, elected to Congress as the First Congressional District representative in Nov., 2004, hasn’t wasted time getting in the middle of some important issues. But his fight, he told the Rotary crowd, is to simply try and help build Louisiana into a place that will grow economically, and keep its best people working here.
“Do you know that 50 percent of the teachers who graduate from state colleges are no longer working in Louisiana within five years,”
he said. “And a survey of those teachers showed the number one problem they face isn’t the test scores, but the lack of discipline they have in the classrooms.”
Jindal told one funny story after another, usually linked to his own parenting or to that of his parents.
“I remember when I got in trouble at school, I would be in trouble three times. I would get in trouble from the teacher, then when I came home and saw my mother, and then I got in the most trouble when I saw my father,” he said. “These days teachers say they no longer want to inform parents about problems at school, because at least half of the parents get mad and blame the school.”
Jindal lamented the lack of “common sense” in so much legislation that comes from government in general.
“One of the first bills I had to push through when I got to Congress was one which was about to allow the IRS to go back and tax people for relief checks they had gotten years before for flooded homes or other disasters,” he said. “I had old people calling me crying, saying they would lose their homes.”
Jindal said he managed to get that bill through and approved, which halted the IRS from that effort, but only when the final vote he needed in the Senate agreed to back the bill if he could add his name to it.
“When I was called by the leadership and told that the bill would pass if I allowed certain people to put their name on it, I told them I didn’t care whose name was on it, even when they wanted to take mine off it. I just wanted to see us help the people who needed it,” he said.
Jindal said there is a clear problem in Congress with too many legislators more concerned with “who gets credit” for things, rather than what gets done.
The congressman highlighted the recent case in Louisiana in Tangipahoa Parish, where a judge said the school board in that parish couldn’t begin their meetings with prayer since “they were concerned that it might make some kids be affected by prayer.
“There are a lot of things I’m concerned about my children being affected by in this day. There’s pornography, drugs, violence-but I’m sure not worried about kids being affected by prayer,” he added. “I told somebody that the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court start their meetings with prayer, so if someone has a problem with that, maybe they should start there.”
Jindal is leading the fight in Washington to get Louisiana its fair share of oil lease royalties, a matter which former lawmakers have not been able to succeed on the state’s behalf for.
But it appears the deal is now getting closer, and may give Louisiana a minimum of $200 million a year for coastal restoration. Jindal is pushing hard to have those royalties include current leases, while others in Congress want the royalties to only apply to new leases. But either way, he said that Louisiana may finally be ready to get the money it has long deserved to help stop coastal erosion.
“Congress is finally understanding that we generate 30 percent of the nation’s energy and while most other states get up to 50 percent of the oil royalties from those leases, we have gotten nothing,” he said. “But the leadership in Congress has told me they want to get this passed this year.”
And last but not least, Jindal talked about the Katrina effect in Louisiana, once again noting the way Congress has handled the situation with what he considers not enough “common sense.”
“We have seen so much of the money wasted that has been sent here, because too much government guidelines are not handled right,” he said. “Congress has sent $110 billion down here, but I don’t think you can say anyone sees that much work has been done.”
He hopes the tragedy from Katrina will be something Louisiana will use as an opportunity to come back better, and not just rebuild what we had before.
“The question now is where do we go from here, a year after Katrina,” he asked. “The greatest danger to me is that we rebuild what we had before. But we’re rated so low in so many areas here that we should try to do things differently. I hope we will make the tough choices so that in five years we don’t look back and wonder why we handled things the way we did.”