By Eric Cormier
A review of recent U.S. Congressional success from a senator and a stump speech from a congressman were the highlights of the Louisiana Municipal Association's annual convention Saturday in Lake Charles.
Saturday was the last day of the event, which was held at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
The day's keynote speaker was U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
She and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., spoke about legislation and the need for common sense decision making in Washington, D.C. Landrieu said a prime objective for her in her 16 years in Congress has been to "express Louisiana's views and opinions."
She reminded the audience of her work in getting the RESTORE Act passed. It is supposed to benefit states damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The law, which went into effect this past week, stipulates that 80 percent of penalties collected from companies responsible for the incident be disbursed to Gulf Coast states affected by the spill.
"In the last two years, we have built a strong coalition to pass the legislation. Louisiana is supposed to get between $2 billion and $5 billion. That money will be used as a down payment to secure and restore Louisiana's coastline," she said. Landrieu also championed the federal government's Smart Growth Initiative.
She said the Army's training grounds at Fort Polk should remain in the state because DeRidder and Leesville officials "picked up tools for smart-growth development."
"It would be a shock to me if Fort Polk doesn't stay and grow."
She asked LMA members to take an interest in local education. "I'm pleading with you to get involved in way that is politically appropriate. Help fashion a change for quality education. People are attracted to communities where children can get quality education," she said.
Boustany, who is campaigning for another term in Congress this year, apologized on behalf of his fellow federal lawmakers.
"Congress has a 9-percent approval rating. We left for recess, so the approval may go up," he said.
He said the country "needs conservative leadership you can trust." He wants government leaders to manage the nation's debt and control health care costs.
Boustany, a doctor, said he has the experience and insight to address medical financial woes the country is dealing with. He touted his work in obtaining federal dollars for hurricane relief in south Louisiana and assisting veterans in Lafayette, Jennings and Lake Charles though winning battles for Veterans Affairs clinics.