Instruct lucky Republicans on proper LA Legislature role
If you see one of the few Republicans to sign on to the idea floated by state Rep. Dee Richard, ultimately failing, to call a special session to review recent state responses to budget deficit conditions, offer to stake him at the craps table because this is one guy who knows when to roll the dice to get a natural – even if he may not properly understand his job.
Maybe some of the others will overhear your wise counsel and accept it if they genuinely wish to affect the policy formulation and policy implementation processes positively. For the last thing this incident was all about was that a favorable response to the petition connoted a desire for a better policy-making process in Louisiana now or in the future. The entire notion behind the effort was about exercising political power to achieve certain but varying politicized motives. It is to the discredit of any legislator or observer who fails to grasp this essential truth.
Altogether, 49 of the 144 legislators signed the effort that would have inserted much more decisively the Legislature into the policy implementation process. That’s greater than a third of seated members, but it did not allow for advancing to a vote whether to have the session since a third was needed in both chambers and the House was five to the good yet the Senate four to the bad. The session would have allowed rewriting of laws to allow for greater legislative insertion into the policy implementation process and could have undone the budgetary adjustments, many of which downsized or closed government facilities in a handful of legislators’ districts.
Observers who for political reasons desire fomenting opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal simply for the sake of conflict and inefficiency in state government, or the gullible who thought anything meaningful could happen by the session’s emergence, even if just the symbolism of a chimerical “legislative independence” appeared as a result, rooted for success in the matter. Of the legislators involved, the large majority of signatories being Democrats, representing about half of all the legislators of that party, fit the former motive. But the GOP signatories had a very different motive – raising their political profiles while coming across as “concerned” about how the cuts impacted their constituencies.
As previously noted, this small group wanted to have its cake and eat it, too. Any session would have furthered the Democrat agenda of obstructing state government right-sizing and provision of a platform to score political propaganda points. Also as previously noted, nothing could have come out of it anyway because Jindal’s veto power would have swept away any of the bad ideas it issued. It would have harmed the state through a waste of funds on the session, and injured the Legislature and especially its presumably conservative members who assisted in bringing it about by the corresponding public backlash against the waste. Worst of all, its specific ideas were impractical and any general policy that came out of it, according to what would be permitted by the call, would have been unwise. In short, anybody who calls themselves a conservative Republican who supported the idea went against both wisdom and principle to the detriment of his political career and the production of good public policy.
However, if the illusion of “caring” could be created by asking for a vote while avoiding the consequences above by not having the session, those gambling Republicans could have the best of both worlds. And for a handful, it paid off. Do not be surprised if they coordinated their choice with other House and Senate members, calculating at least one chamber would come up short (for the hard left in both houses, this was a no-brainer: as it cannot govern with its policies, without any responsibility for consequences a vote to increase bomb-throwing opportunities would maximize its ability to stop the erosion of the populist swollen state government it prefers).
But while handing these Republicans your stake and the dice, take the opportunity to educate them on the proper scope and role of a Legislature. Remind them that in a representative democracy, a legislature’s main job is to formulate policy, contrasted with the executive branch’s main task of implementing policy. Inform them that, as the session call requested, the more that legislators are invited to intrude into the implementation process, the more likely the result tends to satisfying parochial interests at the expense of statewide interests. Instruct them that the Legislature already has plenty of policy-making tools – appropriations language, the ability to override full and line-item gubernatorial vetoes, and the power of impeachment and removal of executive officers – to affect executive implementation behavior that encourages a statewide perspective.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:05