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4.6.20

Brees right on protest view and desisting

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees understands discretion is the better part of valor, even if by practicing that it empowers an ignorant and reductionist sports mob.

This week, a finance website highlighted comments Brees made about kneeling during the playing of the national anthem as a form of protest. He spoke consistently about that act he had criticized four years ago when a handful of National Football League players hopped on that trend, saying at the time
… there's plenty of other ways that you can do that in a peaceful manner that doesn't involve being disrespectful to the American flag.
The great thing about this country is that we have the freedoms that allow you to speak out openly about any issue. So, I’m not commenting on the issue itself because any person has the right to speak out on any issue they want. That’s the great thing about being an American. But the American flag is what represents those freedoms. It represents the very freedom that [gives such protesters] the opportunity to exercise by speaking out his opinion in a peaceful manner about that issue ….

3.6.20

GOP challenged to enact SB 418 now, fix later

It’s time to see whether Louisiana Republican legislative leaders, especially GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, truly are serious about what they call a top legislative priority of this year and if they wish to supplant Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards as the lead policy-maker in the state.

The fate of SB 418 by Republican state Sen. Kirk Talbot will answer both questions. The bill reforms the tort system in regards to vehicle insurance, making Louisiana look much more like other states with far lower insurance rates.

Described by Republican legislators as a leading issue of the session in light of the economically depressive impact of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Edwards has threatened to veto the measure, and even after its passage in a watered-down form wouldn’t commit to desisting on that account. It passed the Senate, first in its original form then as part of a conference committee compromise, with more than enough votes to override any veto, but in the House while the version that went to conference passed with two more than the 70 votes required, the compromise version garnered only 66.

2.6.20

More history in offing at Edwards' expense

One historic session of the Louisiana Legislature down, one to go – and historic for more than one reason.

After enduring a regular session interrupted for about a month-and-a-half because of gubernatorial restrictions due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the Legislature launched itself into a special session potentially a month long. It’s only the second time it has done so, and the first time it hasn’t restricted itself to a narrow agenda.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards did take issue with the generality of the call, implying that it tried to do too much, although his claim rings a bit hollow. Of the 41 items, 14 deal with budgeting matters, some of which the chambers resolved in the regular session but left most hanging because of the shortened nature of the session. Another nine address the impact of Edwards’ actions because of the pandemic. A dozen concern tax matters, which in this even-numbered year the body couldn’t address during the regular session. Outside of these areas that timing has prevented to date their resolutions, just a handful of issues remain, and one named – tort reform – the Legislature successfully completed in the regular session.

31.5.20

LA tort reform bills realize different outcomes

Two (or two-plus) bills essentially addressing the same subject, but with two different outcomes in the Louisiana Legislature; why?

SB 418 by Republican state Sen. Kirk Talbot passed both chambers three votes higher than a supermajority. The bill would reform extensively tort law dealing with vehicular accidents in a way that, if the history of similar laws in other states provides any guide, will reduce both insurance rates and the size of court-ordered judgments, which garnered opposition from the trial lawyer lobby.

Those opponents include Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, on whose behalf a political action committee devoted to opposing tort reform in all of its forms spent $13.5 million that resulted in his narrow reelection. Edwards is using every last bit of his leverage to dilute the bill in any way possible, by promising not to veto the measure even as he doesn’t stand much of a chance in having such a veto stick, in order to save face. An overridden veto will reduce his governorship going forward to a cipher and even the smallest change that he could cajole from a conference committee picked by legislative Republican leaders would allow him with a straight face to refuse conceding defeat and to sign the bill.

29.5.20

Tort reform vote to force Edwards gamble

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards now faces the biggest gamble of his undistinguished career in the state’s top office.

Today, the House of Representatives passed HB 418 by Republican Sen. Kirk Talbot. The bill makes major changes to the state’s tort system as it pertains to vehicle insurance, containing features in the legal codes of many other states that have far lower personal vehicle rates.

Edwards, who before making it to the Governor’s Mansion worked as a trial lawyer, doesn’t want to see this threat to the wealth and livelihoods of his professional colleagues, not only out of comradeship, but because he owes his political life to them. Heavily backed by trial lawyers – who along with other beneficiaries to the current system gave to the special interest group Gumbo PAC $13.5 million from 2018-19 it spent on behalf of Edwards’ narrow reelection – he is considered by the special interests currently fleecing ratepayers as their guarantor that they can continue living the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed through vetoing bills like Talbot’s.

28.5.20

LA medical marijuana scam budget booster?

So, this is how Louisiana solves it Wuhan coronavirus-induced budget problems? By stimulating demand for medical marijuana and becoming a bigger than ever pusher?

That’s the most logical conclusion that can be drawn from the Louisiana Legislature’s passage of HB 819 by Republican state Rep. Larry Bagley, which awaits concurrence and gubernatorial assent to become law. Because nothing else can explain why something almost useless in addressing medical maladies suddenly becomes considered a wonder drug whose manufacture the state happens to control.

In the past couple years since the Legislature created a viable production and distribution system (subject to, naturally, the usual politicking) its legal use has expanded rapidly from just a handful of state-vetted “recommending” physicians (because the federal government bans its use in any form with one narrow exception, so doctors in Louisiana cannot prescribe it) for a small number of maladies to now on the brink of anything goes. Bagley’s bill basically allows any physician to recommend it for any reason.

27.5.20

Conservatism supports smoking ban ordinance

Shreveport’s pending decision to enact a partial smoking ban in bars exposes the complex politics behind these.

This week, the City Council engaged in the first reading of an ordinance that would build on existing state law and corresponding city ordinance regarding smoking in public places. It would extend a ban on indoor smoking at bars and include vaping as a form of smoking, but would exempt cigar and hookah bars.

Appropriately, the more conservative members of the Council brought this forward. In justifying smoking in public, supporters often allege conservative principles back that preference, but that contention relies on misappropriating the foundations of liberalism.

26.5.20

Budget can kicking sets up day of reckoning

It’s a legally dubious effort which will draw a bipartisan blind eye allowing a traditional kicking of the can down the road in Louisiana budgeting.

This describes state policy-maker response to using federal CARES Act dollars in supplementing the fiscal year 2020 budget and the upcoming FY 2021 budget. The Legislature appears poised to approve within the week legislation affecting the former and to do the same with the latter in a special session in June.

The state has received $1.802 billion designed to offset costs at the state and local level for expenses related to combatting the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic over the last four months of FY 2020 and first six months of FY 2021. At the same time the associated economic shutdown, prompted by a series of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards proclamations as part of the response, prompted the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference to forecast of a loss of just over $1 billion in general fund revenue in this span.

25.5.20

Memorial Day, 2020

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Monday, May 25 being Memorial Day, I invite you to explore this link.

24.5.20

Leftist bias in LA media outlets: case study

The next time an obviously leftist journalist sniffs and haughtily tells you the mainstream media, at least in Louisiana, doesn’t display a clear liberal bias, shut him up with this URL.

Ever since the end of the 19th century through the next half-century when changing market conditions diluted the partisan press into a more balanced kind of political coverage, the pendulum has inched its way from the center – but not in an increasing amplitude in arc, rather fixed ever more firmly on the left. It largely has continued (if now eroding) norms developed over a century ago – striving for accuracy and objectivity in reporting – but increasingly allows bias through other means.

These days, that takes the form of selective use of information and selective coverage. Bias enters the equation when reporters express incuriosity in comprehensively covering a story because what they see on the surface confirms their deep-seated political biases, and when editors make selections on what they deem worth covering or qualifies as news that mirror their political prejudices.