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23.7.15

LA defending right Constitutional principles priceless


Louisiana spent a lot of money defending its Constitution for something overturned by federal judicial fiat. It was worth it.



Last month’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that protected from prohibition by states a product of homosexual activity, same sex marriage, ended up costing the state at least $330,000 in fees it paid outside counsel for that defense; these dollars might have been lower in terms of manpower had state attorneys handled the case that Louisiana’s constitutional ban, approved by over three-quarters of voters over a decade ago, was within powers granted by the states that should not be abrogated by including practices not already listed in the Constitution as protected as in the case of free speech and religious exercise. That figure probably will end up half again higher when court costs and reimbursement of the plaintiffs’ legal fees are figured in. Ironically, because Louisiana’s case presented the best exposition against the plaintiffs’ claims, that probably increased the costs.



Of course, a half a million dollars is relative. After all, Louisiana wasted, net, around $170 million in motion picture investor tax credits in the last year for which there is calculated data, and probably will waste around $50 million this year in the earned income tax credit that discourages working to maximal effort. Still, anything is better for use than having nothing available.

22.7.15

Resign-to-run would cost LA more than benefit it


So, New Jersey legislators want to indulge in pique, soothe bruised egos, and half bake concern over state governance by forcing officeholders to resign for office if they declare candidacy for another. While experiencing a similar dynamic in Louisiana with Gov. Bobby Jindal running for president, such a move brings more costs than benefits.



These kinds of laws exist in a handful of states, varying in their scope. A couple are absolute, negating running for anything at any time without resignation. A couple more limit the resignation imperative only up to the last year or so in that office, and still others apply any resignation requirement to only a circumscribed range of offices.



Just looking at the 2015 governor’s race here, depending upon the kind of law, all, some, or none of the current candidates would be able to run. Under the most stringent law, not a single one could have declared a candidacy, or in another couple of instances upon qualifying, unless resigning their current offices. Under more relaxed scenarios, as their terms in other state offices end at the beginning of next year, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Rep. John Bel Edwards could have avoided resigning by making a declaration as late as early this year, but in no instance could have Sen. David Vitter or Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.

21.7.15

LA should end deal with combative hospital operator

The best defense is a good offense, and so the private-public partnership for charity hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe has descended into farce as the state claims breach of contract and the operator sues its presumed opposition, providing so far the only real blemish on a largely successful transition into this model.



You knew trouble might develop when the state made the decision to turn over operations at all but one of its ten state-run general hospitals to nongovernment entities with the eventual deal almost two years ago for Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center – historically managed together – going to the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana. The nonprofit established nearly three decades earlier had no experience in managing health care except for operation of a PET scanner and had subsisted mainly off of taxpayer dollars (renewed only recently).



Until then, all of the hospitals were run directly by the Louisiana State University System which still officially oversees the operators, and all but the north Louisiana hospitals ended up under the management of nonprofit entities that run hospitals, although one partner in central Louisiana was a for-profit company. For its part, the BRF created a subsidiary to manage the hospitals, now called University Health Systems, past a startup period.

20.7.15

Events conspire to give Jindal breakout chance


The next two weeks could make or break Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations – and suddenly several events have teed up the softballs he needs to jumpstart his campaign.



Before and after announcing his presidential intentions, Jindal has continue to suffer low polling numbers for the Republican Party nomination. Granted, in a field of over a dozen serious candidates, the random mean would be seven percent, but bouncing around five points or more below that does not inspire hope that he can break out from near the bottom to grab it. More crucially, candidate debates that either will exclude or grant second-tier treatment to the lowest-ranking candidates in polls begin in a couple of weeks. While not getting first-team status doesn’t definitively doom his campaign, it does make things more difficult to come out on top in the end.



Fortunately for him, over the last month issues in the area he has chosen to distinguish himself most from his competitors, social, have fed him assists under the basket that he merely had to lay up to score. About the time he announced formally his candidacy, the U.S. Supreme Court rather inexpertly found a protected behavior nowhere written in the Constitution, homosexual activity, that had to be recognized  this way by states in the form of same sex marriage. This put Jindal front and center as he had issued an executive order not long before this stating that government could not discriminate in its dealings with citizens on the basis of their views on marriage.