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End govt preferences bias in electioneering

It’s time for Louisiana to make campaigns concerning ballot propositions more impartial, taking away a bias that favors government preferences.

State law does not address how local governments may involve themselves in elections such as on taxation matters. Nor does it require local governments to regulate electioneering; some, like Bossier Parish, put matters like legal placement of campaign signs in a Unified Development Code or elsewhere in their code of ordinances.

Livingston Parish does not, making no mention of the issue at all. That’s why a sign has appeared on Walker High School property visible to traffic concerning an “OPERATIONS FUNDING RENEWAL” for “Livingston Parish Public Schools” asking viewers to “VOTE October 14,” and, for those not swift on the uptake, reiterates that “This is NOT a new tax!”


LA one step closer to legalized hooting up

Louisiana has gotten one step closer to hooting up in mass by securing both cannabis distribution channels relative to a permissive medical marijuana law that legalization proponents don’t like.

Last week, Southern University chose the Lafayette shell company Advanced Biomedics to operate the school’s medical marijuana business. Until 2020, statute allows Southern and Louisiana State University to do so, each by itself or through proxy, producing all but inhalable cannabis products while emphasizing reduced THC levels, for “recommendation” by physicians to address a variety of ailments.

LSU previously chose GB Sciences, based in Nevada, as its operator. Given federal laws’ prohibition on growing the cannabis sativa plant, although state law said only the two Baton Rouge-based universities could grow the crop, each has farmed out the task over concerns that doing it themselves might threaten receipt of federal research grants.


Caddo rebel monument on the move ... maybe

Except for a Hail Mary that would shake up more than just the current dispute, it looks as if the Confederate monument by the Caddo Parish Courthouse will head to the dustbin of history.

Last week, the full Caddo Parish Commission voted to advance an ordinance to move the object. On Oct. 19 the vote on the actual measure will come, but the balloting that pushed the matter forward and on another signals high certainty that this will succeed.

During its Monday work session prior to the Thursday regular meeting, Commissioner Lyndon Johnson proposed the movement. With little debate, commissioners voted 8-4 to put the item on the future agenda, with Commissioners John Atkins, Mario Chavez, Doug Dominick, and Jim Smith opposing. This disregarded the recommendation of a task force set up by the Commission that called for adding monuments or other material to the area next to the existing object that would expand the historical overview about the object and, more generally, address race relations.


Battle to come over last year's surprise surplus?

Just because Louisiana finds itself with a surplus in closing out fiscal year 2017 doesn’t mean it can’t apply this money to next fiscal year.

Realized revenues for last fiscal year went $143.2 million above the budgeted baseline. It might hit $143 million. But, as it becomes in a sense “bonus” money, those kinds of dollars the state only may spent on a set of nonrecurring items, classified in the Constitution as paying off bonds early, reducing the unfunded accrued liability in retirement accounts, spending on capital outlay (especially for roads with federal matching funds available), filling the Budget Stabilization Fund, or engaging in coastal restoration efforts. The law also gives priority to the BSF and UAL, designating a minimum of 25 percent (or, if greater, $25 million) and 10 percent, respectively, of any declared surplus goes to these.

House Speaker Taylor Barras already has voiced a preference to put at least $99 million into the BSF. That would repay draining it that amount in the year’s first special session, although the BSF statutory ceiling would allow depositing a much larger amount. By the numbers, with the recently found money at least $35.8 million must go to the BSF and $14.3 million to chip away at the UAL.