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6.6.19

Hollywood, don't fling LA in that briar patch

Please Hollywood, please, don’t fling Louisiana in that briar patch.

In the Uncle Remus story “The Tar-Baby,” Br’er Rabbit escapes the clutches of Br’er Fox by tricking him through exhortation to throw him into a briar patch, into which Br’er Fox can’t follow. Similarly, Louisianans tired of wasteful government spending should hope the prejudices of film makers allow them to save big.

Recently, the state joined a growing list of state passing much greater restrictions on abortion, if U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence changes to allow their constitutionality. Act 184 prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which generally occurs around six weeks of gestation, unless the physical health of the mother is at grave risk.

5.6.19

Budget debate highlights dense LA Democrats

If you want to know what’s wrong with Democrats, nationally and through a Louisiana lens, look no further than debate over the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget.

As the failure of liberalism’s economic bromides of divide, take, and redistribute became increasingly clear through their application under Democrat Pres. Barack Obama (and, except for wild deficit spending throughout, most of foundational damage happened in just his first two years when Democrats controlled Congress), the far left that has captured the national party simply refuses delivery of these facts. Instead of discarding their discredited theories, they wish to double down on them, such as through infatuation with the “Green New Deal” with its ruinous costs that would do next to nothing to (theoretically) reduce alleged catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

Simultaneously, those elites have embraced identity politics with a vengeance, believing that creating a myth of oppression against numerous groups – principally women, racial minorities, those who act differently than their physical sex suggests, and non-Christians – with coercive policies supposedly to remand would construct a majority electoral coalition. The 2016 election results showed the jury out on that strategy, but they responded to that in the same fashion as they did on the economy by engaging in escalating shrillness.

4.6.19

Skittish conservatives empower minority govt

While Louisiana’s screwy dalliance with minority government bears some blame, the halt to public policy progress in the state also falls on the shoulders of conservative Republicans too skittish to try to change that.

A small coterie of Senate committees has spiked a passel of legislation that brings cheer to conservatives. Efforts to roll back a sales tax hike early, bring down insurance rates, increase efforts to root out fraud in benefits programs, allow enforcement of the death penalty, and stabilize state finances have fizzled when encountering panels comprised of a majority of Democrats and/or big government Republicans.

This arrangement where the larger Senate has a majority of fiscally conservative Republicans that likely would have approved all of these measures has occurred because of Louisiana’s personalistic political culture, which overemphasizes and magnifies the ability of politicians to distribute resources to favored constituencies. Power that accumulated into the hands of Republican Sen. Pres. John Alario, who has spent nearly half a century seeking power and privilege in the Legislature, was put into the service of Democrat Gov.  John Bel Edwards to stack the committees on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, Senate and Government Affairs, and the three Judiciary ones with these fellow travelers who don’t represent the Senate majority nor the state’s people as a whole.

3.6.19

Imperfect rideshare bill merits becoming law

A couple of clich├ęs summarize the impending approval of statewide rideshare regulations in Louisiana: the third time is the charm and sometimes it’s necessary to take a step backwards to take two steps forward.

HB 575 by Republican state Rep. Tanner Magee will come before the House of Representatives for concurrence, having passed its major hurdle in the Senate. The bill would create a mostly statewide regulatory framework for transportation network companies (TNC), largely replacing a patchwork system with a few local governments regulating and the remainder of the state without any framework, leaving legally ambiguous whether a rideshare concern could operate in those areas.

But not entirely comprehensively. The first iteration of the legislation in 2017 essentially disregarded local regulation, and it foundered for that reason. New Orleans in particular had regulations more financially lucrative than the proposed law would have allowed. And as that wasn’t much less onerous than on traditional taxicab service, this also reflected the interests of cab companies, who wanted a similar degree of regulation on their competitor.

2.6.19

Change law to eliminate payment shortfalls

It’s not exactly a case of breaking out the violins when considering the finances of Louisiana’s state partner hospitals.

The giant maw of health care in Louisiana, supercharged by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ ill-advised decision to expand Medicaid, continues to consume all tax dollars in its path. It’s budgeted up over $700 million from this year, with almost $100 million more in state-sourced money. This means it now takes up just about half of the state’s operating budget.

But the nine hospitals contracted with the state to provide indigent care find themselves having to do with not enough for the state. Last month, these reported overall paying out more money to service qualifying residents than received from the state. To make matters worse for them, because of auditing complexities the state chronically runs behind in making payments owed.