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13.12.19

LA law gains from retaining KY abortion law

Next up to the plate to help remind of the sanctity of life: Louisiana.

Kentucky had a productive at bat this week when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the state’s 2017 law that required doctors to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before abortions. Plaintiffs had argued that practice impinged on freedom of expression, which the Court found so lacking that without comment it didn’t review lower court rulings affirming the law’s constitutionality.

The law directs a doctor, prior to performing an abortion, to perform an ultrasound; display the ultrasound images for the patient; and explain, in the doctor’s own words, what is being depicted by the images. There is no requirement that the patient view the images or listen to the doctor’s description. The doctor also must auscultate the fetal heartbeat but may turn off the volume of the auscultation if the patient so requests.

11.12.19

End access incentive to give away tax dollars

If the Louisiana Legislature won’t reform campaign finance laws that convey questionable benefits to elected officials, at least it can change ethics laws in the narrow area of sporting and cultural events.

Back in the news whenever a big sporting event becomes relevant – in this instance Louisiana State University making the college Football Bowl Subdivision playoffs with the national championship game held in New Orleans – is the policy of some organizations to give legislators preferred access to tickets.

LSU does this when some of its teams qualify for postseason action, and in a larger sense that’s not controversial. It’s a state agency and as legislators pay full price – necessary because a ticket is a “thing of economic value” that would run afoul of ethics laws – there’s no foul. All they receive is the same head-of-the-line option to purchase tickets as do season ticket-holders.

10.12.19

LA's odd culture, primary can subvert electorate

It’s a testament to Louisiana’s offbeat political culture and obscurant election regime that House Democrats could have any meaningful influence in the next legislative term starting in 2020.

This fall, voters put 68 Republicans into the House of Representatives, leaving just 35 Democrats and two no-party legislators. That’s an all-time low for Democrats and an all-time high for Republicans since 1880.

Yet in the race for Speaker of the House, a candidate for whom two-thirds of the votes for could come from Democrats with just a smattering of GOP supporters might capture that office. In a radio interview last week, Republican state Rep. Alan Seabaugh described a situation where GOP state Rep. Clay Schexnayder could win with this coalition over Republican state Rep. Sherman Mack, who has the backing of most and the more conservative Republicans in the incoming chamber. Later this week, chamber Republicans will meet to hash out the party’s presumed choice.

9.12.19

Trump bails out Edwards on SNAP policy

Despite Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ narrow reelection win, Louisiana government will shrink a bit and its economy will get a boost.

Thank the Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration for both. Even though in a relative sense Louisiana had the worst state economy under Edwards, in an absolute sense the state’s economy actually improved in some ways – because of Trump policies, in spite of Edwards policies. Even the leakiest boat rose with the economic prosperity Trump policies of lower taxes and reduced and revised regulations with an eye towards unleashing private sector activity; it isn’t hard to see how a victory by his Democrat competitor Hillary Clinton would have prevented all of this and, at best, continue the worst recovery since World War II, instead of the country experiencing the Trump economic boom.

And this saved Edwards. Because Trump policies could mask to some extent the anti-growth, pro-big-government agenda of Edwards and its deleterious economic consequences, this kept enough people from feeling dissatisfied enough to follow the example of other states in the past five years whose electorates booted out governors for better relative economic performances.

5.12.19

Ailing LA towns need added scrutiny, action

Ailing municipalities in Louisiana have caught the eye of the Legislative Auditor, but need to grab greater attention from policy-makers.

Recently, the Auditor began publicizing a list of 18 such cities, towns, and villages. It doesn’t include a half-dozen that already have had or will have the state take over their functions precisely because of an inability to pay bills or to provide services. This posting reflects the increasing number of entities that have run into trouble.

While municipalities that make the unfortunate grade fell prey to a number of factors that put them in fiscal peril, almost all of these are self-inflicted. The only one that isn’t, more than trivial depopulation, among these two dozen applies in only half of the cases.

4.12.19

More precise analysis needed for LA elections

Even as Louisiana’s 2019 state elections fade temporally, imprecise analysis continues to obscure its larger electoral patterns and consequences.

A previous post dispensed with the notion that Louisiana followed a supposed national trend of suburbs indiscriminately lending support to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ narrow reelection. That view presupposed that some suburbanites converted their voting preferences.

However, as previously noted, whatever new support Edwards picked up came disproportionately from the changing demographic composition of some state suburbs, almost exclusively Jefferson Parish. Compared to other less mature suburb parishes, Jefferson had substantially higher minority population while its median household income tracked more to the state average than the higher number seen in most other suburban parishes.

3.12.19

Senate choosing Cortez blow to Edwards

The slim hopes of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to advance his agenda in a second term became even more microscopic if one media outlet’s story is accurate.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that enough votes have lined up behind Louisiana state Sen. Page Cortez to make him Senate president for the next four years. No other independent source has confirmed this yet, nor has Cortez himself.

If this comes to fruition, it will mark the first instance in decades of the chamber electing its leader without gubernatorial interference. It did, midway through Republican former Gov. Buddy Roemer’s term, replace Roemer’s backed leader with one of its own choosing supported by Democrat former Gov. Edwin Edwards who would defeat Roemer two years later.

2.12.19

Kennedy needs comment clarification again

So, did Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy finally step off the ledge this time?

Last week, Kennedy provoked commentary on two national media appearances. In the first, he said that the Ukraine may have sponsored hacking of former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton campaign computers. In the second, he said he had misunderstood the question to be one of general election interference, that he never meant to say Ukraine backed hacking, and that he would stand by a characterization that the Ukraine did try to interfere in that 2016 election.

This clarification brought partisan attacks from the media, both nationally and in the state, long on assertion but short on factual basis. In essence, meticulously compiled investigative journalism reports which never have been refuted (although recently one of the original reporting media outlet tried to downplay the information by relying heavily on semantics) support Kennedy’s stance.