By MELINDA DESLATTE
Associated Press Writer
BATON ROUGE (AP) - Levee oversight, New Orleans schools and an array of divisive matters that could bog down lawmakers are on the lengthy list of hurricane recovery topics included in a special legislative session called by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who had initially pegged it for limited emergency needs.Among the hot-button issues the governor is backing are stronger statewide building codes, a revamp of the New Orleans school system that would take control of the city's failing schools away from the troubled local school board and unified state oversight of the fractured system of levees that protect coastal areas, towns and New Orleans.
Blanco wants lawmakers to tap the state's "rainy day" fund, consider borrowing some cash to help alleviate some of the pain of cuts and create a system for state employees to retire early and get off the regular payroll.
"I will use this opportunity to work with the Legislature to remake state government, to make it smaller, better and more efficient," the governor said.
Any consolidation of the levee system oversight will run into problems with lawmakers who want to maintain the current structure of two dozen local levee districts with their own boards of political appointees and their own sources of income.
Initial discussions of a strict statewide building code ran into disagreements on Blanco's own recovery commission where board members questioned whether northern stretches of the state should be subject to the types of building codes needed in hurricane-prone areas, particularly construction requirements that will raise costs
Blaguerette says, pay attention to the matters up for discussion/debate in this special session of the legislature!