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Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Guest: Jay Dardenne, Show # 110


Attorney, Locke Meredith, interviews Louisiana Secretary of State, Jay Dardenne.  They will discuss Dardenne’s duties and responsibilities as Secretary of State, what his goals are, as well as his running for Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana.

Dardenne has been Secretary of State for four years, first finishing the term of the late Fox Mckeithen, then re-elected with an overwhelming sixty-four percent majority.  As far as pesonal history, Dardenne was president the student body when he graduated from LSU, and has served in the Louisiana State Senate for fifteen years, as well before becoming Secretary of State in 2006.  As a Senator, Dardenne served during the terms of past Governors Edwin Edwards, Mike Foster, and Kathleen Blanco.  Dardenne was known a “thorn in the side” of Democratic Governor Edwards, but served as floor leader for Republican Governor, Mike Foster, being a Republican himself.   Floor leader means that he handled the legislation being advocated by the Governor.  During his time office, Dardenne handled the legislation that established Baton Rouge Community College and the motion picture tax credit.

The motion picture tax credit, Dardenne explains, has had a huge positive impact on Louisiana.  It gives tax credits to people who invest in movies in Louisiana: producers, people hiring Louisianans, even to people renting equipment for movie making in the state.  Since this legislation has passed, Louisiana has become a hot spot for movie making, which has benefited many types of businesses in the state.   Major movies filmed in Louisiana include Steele Magnolias and Twilight, among others.

Dardenne talks about other successful legislation he has been a part of, during the past fifteen years.  He says that the establishment of the community college system was also a really big one.    Another substantial piece of legislation Dardenne is currently working on has to do with the structuring of the board of regents, who regulate higher education in Louisiana.

Next Dardenne goes into historic problems with Louisiana budgeting, namely the fact that, as a state, Louisiana has often been dependent upon one-time sources of finances.  Examples include: oil revenue from the great oil boom, Federal funding for Katrina, and now stimulus dollars.  The problem, Dardenne says, is that this funding is being built into the operating budget of the State, and it is not going to be coming in annually.

One of Dardenne’s roles in office as Secretary of State, is Chief Elections Officer, putting him in charge of making decisions regarding the elections in Louisiana.  He has made early voting a priority, while in office.  Formerly called absentee voting, early voting now allows voters who know they will be out of town during Election Day to come in and vote during a week long period, two weeks before Election Day.  Dardenne gives lots of credit to Voting Commissioners, mostly senior citizens, who monitor the voting process.

Dardenne and Meredith both express their frustrations with historically low voter turnouts in elections.  Fifty percent is high in Louisiana.  You can register to vote at or at your local registrar of voters, starting at age seventeen.  Louisiana has expanded its technology in the voting process, giving instantaneous and accurate results on Election night.  Furthermore, lately, Louisiana Government has also been expanding its technology in the commercial division, allowing businesses to register online, submitting their annual reports at

As Secretary of State, Dardenne has also played a large role in the museum system in Louisiana.  His office has created the Heroes and Heritage Trail, linking the seventeen museums operated by the Secretary of State’s Office.  They have invested millions, mostly one-time surplus money, into the Old State Capitol, which now has new exhibits.  One of these is called The Ghost of the Castle, an exhibit about a spirit they believe looks over the castle.

Besides occupying his current position as Secretary of State, Dardenne is running for Lieutenant Governor for the State of Louisiana.  This position is responsible for promoting the state and managing the tourism budget.  Governor Jindal has expressed he would like to terminate this position to save the state money, but Dardenne insists that this position is essential for the promotion of our state to outsiders.  He feels he has the expertise needed to promote our state.

Dardenne describes the office of Lieutenant Governor as one with three major components: salesmanship, ambassador, and management.  In particular, Dardenne believes we need to be investing more of our state’s funding into advertising and media which positively advertises Louisiana to other states, especially in the wake of the Deep Horizon oil spill.  When asked what he will change in Louisiana if elected Lieutenant Governor, Dardenne responds with a statistic: for every dollar spent on advertising for Louisiana, we get seventeen dollars back.  Dardenne wants to bring people from our neighboring states in, attracted by our cuisine, our sportsman’s paradise, our museums, and historical sites.  The funding for the tourism department comes from a general fund, as well as from hotel and motel revenues.

Dardenne has come up with a presentation called “Why Louisiana ain’t Mississippi” in his efforts to promote Louisiana.  It highlights Louisiana’s history, demographics, politics, culture, music, and everything else that makes Louisiana special.

Thirty years ago, the Lieutenant Governor’s position was quite different than today.  Before the state constitution changed, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana oversaw the actions of the State Senate, Dardenne explains.  Now, the Lieutenant Governor’s function is to be whatever the presiding Governor designates.

Besides running the tourism department, if elected Lieutenant Governor, Dardenne wants to do more to help our state.   Dardenne says, “I want to bring a lot of energy to that department and try to do more, but I also want to make certain that we maximize the return on the investment of dollars spent for Louisiana.” The Show concludes.