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Incomplete Medicaid expansion report misleads

Present one-sided information to the public and you’re likely to shape public opinion in that direction, a result recently captured by some academic researchers found echoing from the works of others.

Revealed publicly piece by piece, the latest installment of the 2018 Louisiana Survey conducted by Louisiana State University’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs focused on public attitudes about Medicaid expansion and criminal justice reforms. This came on the heels of a study released by the Department of Health that purported to show a positive fiscal impact from expansion.

The survey said 69 percent of Louisianans approved of expansion, and the report claimed state revenues over costs from expansion climbed $55 million while local governments received an extra influx of $75 million. It also asserted health care gains would accrue from expansion.


Unify command to improve jail performance

Plenty of reasons abound to end the experiment known as the Union Parish Detention Center Commission.

Prior to commencing its operations, the state passed a law removing it from the authority of the parish sheriff. Uniquely among Louisiana jails, it does not have a constitutionally-specified entity controlling it, but a committee comprised of the sheriff, the (3rd Judicial) District Attorney, police chief of the city hosting it Farmerville, a member of the Union Parish Police Jury elected by its members, and the president of the Police Jury. It contracts with the sheriff to operate the facility and legally is considered a component of parish government run by the Police Jury as that body funds it.

And it’s weathered a lot of bad public relations, right from the start. Initially, the Commission contracted to a private operator, whose efforts proved so slack that most work-release inmates found access to consume illegal drugs. This led to yanking that program that returned in 2015, as well as eventual takeover by the sheriff.


Political conflict necessary for LA to advance

At the very end of a recent piece by my Advocate colleague Mark Ballard comes an interesting quote, summing up exactly why Louisiana over several decades dug itself such a deep policy hole.

Said by former House of Representatives Speaker, Commissioner of Administration, and chairman of the 1973 constitutional convention Democrat Bubba Henry, in reference to the late former Republican state Rep. and state Sen. Tom Casey’s passing and his role in bringing about institutional reform: “But then, we were interested in the subject matter. They [today’s legislators] seem to be more interested in ideology.” Here, he made reference to battles in the past two years over general appropriations and capital outlay budgets, and tax policy related to that.

This echoed his remarks last year at a CC 73 reunion. When asked about having a new convention, he said, “If legislators can’t agree on the legislation to eradicate the debt [i.e. budget deficit] that we have, I don’t know what they could do in the constitutional convention that would be helpful to the state.”


Concrete rules best to mitigate order's effect

Even if Baton Rouge or every other local government now permitted to rule on property tax exemptions always gave maximal breaks, the damage has been done for at least the next 21 months.

Within a year of assuming office, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order regarding the Industrial Tax Exemption Program. The law it addressed allows the governor to cancel local property taxes entirely for up to 10 years.

Edwards changed that, saying he would allow only five years’ worth at 100 percent and three more at 80 percent. Further, he would allow local government input that could make those numbers even less advantageous.


Wackos prove necessity of curbing their zeal

Even as they complain about the possibility, environmentalist wacko protesters prove the point of the necessity of a Louisiana law that could limit their tantrums.

HB 727 by state Rep. Major Thibaut would add pipelines to the category of critical infrastructure. The state already protects from trespassing at these various sites such as power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, water treatment facilities, and natural gas terminals. Violators could draw as many as 15 years in prison with a $10,000 fine, going up to 20 years and $25,000 if the action could threaten human life or disrupt site operations. And, conspiracy to do so carries the same penalty.

He introduced the bill on Apr. 2, less than a week after unknown apparent protestors damaged equipment at a Bayou Bridge pipeline construction site. Environmentalist groups have vigorously fought the pipeline’s presence, ultimately losing regulatory and court battles, although many forswear the use of violence to achieve their ends.


Legislature still acting unwisely on tuition control

Here we go again with the Louisiana Legislature missing again on something commonsensical that puts it out of step with the rest of the country to the detriment of the state’s people.

Last week, the House of Representatives turned back HB 418 by Rep. Barry Ivey that would have allowed the state’s four higher education management boards to set their own tuition, subject to some parameters. Currently, Louisiana is but one of two states that require legislative input into tuition hikes.

The bill would have limited increases to 10 percent annually and no more than 20 percent total over four years. Further, it would have exempted recipients of Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars awards, meaning during the course of the award for a student that state taxpayers would not have to increase their effort to cover any rise in tuition.