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14.4.21

Bill could make rogue agency accountable

Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton put her money where her mouth with HB 630 that could result in a severe clipping of the Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District’s wings.

Over the past year, the growing notoriety of this special district incorporating the reservoir in its name has prompted state policy-makers to intervene in its controversies. Having run into budgetary difficulties as a result of past bad decisions – which it recently passed on to most Bossier Parish taxpayers by raising their property tax rates, the only parish agency with that power to do so in the latest quadrennial reassessment – the highhanded nature of its board, whose members aren’t elected but selected by various local governments, and board member/Executive Director Robert Berry have continued to flummox citizens.

Berry has come under fire from Republican Atty. Gen Jeff Landry, who launched an ongoing suit to have Berry removed from an office with the claim under law Berry can’t fill these two offices simultaneously. The grievances that Horton – whose district takes in some of the property under the jurisdiction of the District and many parcels where residents get taxed by it – relayed on behalf of constituents fueled Landry’s move.

13.4.21

Speech highlights Edwards' declining relevance

This year’s state of the state address by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards illustrates his continued slide towards irrelevancy, both in the reach of his policy agenda and its messaging and in its increasing distance from reality.

The agenda is unambitious. His disinterest in tossing red meat to the political left while simultaneously pretending real problems don’t exist was best exemplified by not even mentioning, after his humiliation on tort reform for individual vehicle insurance last year, a bill by one his allies designed for show on that account that actually likely would create a less efficient insurance market on the agenda he didn’t mention. Yet his address also didn’t mention other genuine vehicular tort reform issues, such as the growing crisis with commercial insurance.

Leaving out this and other things like sales tax administration reform, protection of children from faddishness, and a bare mention on income tax reform, much of what does appears on it piggybacks onto largely non-controversial items and even the recurring liberal wish list items of dealing with illusory pay inequity between sexes and increasing the minimum wage seem almost perfunctory in their presences. Edwards treated these as such by mentioning them only in passing.

12.4.21

Demand equal treatment as GA; save tax bucks

Quick, before they change their minds! It didn’t seem to work out over laws promoting increased pro-life protections. But maybe this time Hollywood will be serious and take Louisiana taxpayers off the hook … and you can help!

In 2019, Louisiana and other states passed such laws, although not all survived Supreme Court scrutiny of the recent past. Hollywood grumbled about boycotting such states, with Georgia and Louisiana being the two most generous in passing out subsidies to film and television producers, but nothing really came of it.

Almost two years have passed and the same threats have reappeared, this time over Georgia’s changes to strengthen ballot integrity. A handful of industry movers and shakers said they didn’t plan on producing there, but now one who actually had planned on doing so has pulled the plug, citing the new law.

11.4.21

Cost metrics demand pause on justice changes

Contrary to what the state’s public may think, the day of reckoning for Louisiana’s criminal justice policy changes of four years ago is drawing nigh: sold as a way to reduce costs without damaging public safety, those costs sooner rather than later actually look to increase.

These changes, such as reducing sentences, different sentencing, and increased eligibility for release on a periodic (for work release) or permanent basis, adherents such as main sponsor Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards claimed would save money that could be used to pad the state’s budget but mainly for “reinvestment” into strategies that supposedly would reduce the crime rate. While the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic postponed last year’s report on the changes, until then the state estimated cost reductions of $30 million.

However, these early optimistic monetary returns distracted from a looming reality. Unlike all but one other state, Louisiana houses a significant portion of state prisoners in local jails, historically hovering around the 50 percent level. With this a persistent feature of the state’s criminal justice system, parish sheriffs got into the business in a big way, often ambitiously expanding capacity.

8.4.21

Fleeing system explains LA GOP voter losses

A significant number of Louisianans leaving the GOP because of its presumed association with violent activity around the U.S. Capitol? Absolutely fake news.

Even just a surface knowledge of Louisiana politics and electoral behavior in general should brought skepticism to a headline screamed by the Louisiana Radio Network: “State GOP membership sees trend-breaking dip post January 6th US Capitol attack.” Its content argued, apparently reviewing first quarter 2021 numbers, that Republicans shed registrants disproportionately, with most of that occurring in January, hence the association with the episode of unrest (see the stylebook). It noted drops of that magnitude didn’t happen in 2017 (slight gain) and 2013 (slight loss), true for both the first month and first quarter.

However, insofar as voting partisanship has little meaning in Louisiana state politics. With the blanket primary system in place, little reward or punishment accrues to registering a certain way. One could argue, as one of my colleagues at Louisiana State University (who probably didn’t look at the data himself) that changing a registration could serve as a symbolic penalty on the party, but when the symbol means so little substantively relative to the act of voting in the first place, that seems unlikely as a response.

7.4.21

Leftists inadvertently endorse LA flat tax

Even in manure you sometimes can find a gem here and there. That describes the latest advocacy attempt by the leftist Louisiana Budget Project, with the very policy problems it identifies amenable to solving by legislation before the Legislature that the group would reject.

Last week, the group that champions redistribution of wealth took advantage of woke trendiness in issuing a report about state tax policy. It rehashed the oft-made observation that the lower income a household, the greater proportion of its cash income goes to pay taxes. This it attributes to state tax policy that charges too high of a sales tax and insufficiently redistributes wealth, but adds a new wrinkle to this critique: that this policy causes “racial injustice in Louisiana’s tax system.”

The report blithely assumes, consistent with the attempted redefinition ongoing by leftist elites of what constitutes confirmatory evidence of racially prejudiced policy, that outcomes define this and thus differences in outcomes by race have no other explanation than prejudicial policy – despite the large amount of evidence that invalidates this notion in a vast number of policy areas. Not only is that a bad assumption, but also the data the reports presents also contradict it.

6.4.21

Bossier City sore losers defying voters' will

In his military career, Bossier City Republican Mayor received and gave many salutes. Now, as his 16-year tenure approaches its end, he is giving Bossier City residents a Bronx salute.

Walker and his city hall gang, many of whom will lose their power and prestige when Republican Mayor-Elect Tommy Chandler who defeated Walker last month takes office, don’t appear willing to make a graceful exit. That’s the implication of an ordinance scheduled for introduction this City Council meeting, with final passage set for Apr. 20.

The ordinance would make adjustments to contracted services rendered by the Baton Rouge-based Manchac Consulting Group. Over the past five years, Manchac has overseen sewerage and wastewater administration under a private-public partnership agreement, to net over $7 million by the time the agreement expires on Walker’s last day in office, Jun. 30.

5.4.21

LA govt policy must protect unvaccinated

Let’s try to understand correctly why a significant portion of Louisianans won’t take a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine presently without lapsing into overly simplified argumentation, avoidance of which will produce optimal public policy in combatting the virus.

A recent pair of studies pointed out that about a third of the state’s population didn’t intend to receive a vaccination. One of these, the 2021 Louisiana Survey, also provided data on the party and ideological identifications of respondents, which revealed liberals and Democrats much more likely to want to get vaccinated than do conservatives and Republicans. The same pattern was observed on the issues on approval of a mandate to wear masks in public and on state government response to the pandemic, with liberals and Democrats much more in approval.

The common nexus behind all three of these is government fiat. More than most states, Louisiana has responded with a heavy-handed approach of government control that statistically has brought a low payoff, and vaccine development had heavy government involvement. Unfortunately, the short-term, risk averse nature of politicians at all levels of government – many recoiling at the idea what could happen to their political careers if they received blame for anybody’s death because they “didn’t do enough” – plus the opportunity playing up the risks of the pandemic by the political left in order to increase its ability to control and magnify the power of government served a political end.

4.4.21

Easter Sunday, 2021

This column publishes five days weekly after 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 Sunday, Apr. 4 being Easter, I invite you to explore this link.

1.4.21

Demagogic insurance bill aims to distract

It’s not even old wine in new bottles; it’s old wine in old bottles and still sour. And it’s the same old story of distraction to enable continued transference of wealth from ratepayers and consumers to trial lawyers.

SB 55 by Democrat state Sen. Jay Luneau essentially warms over some corpses from last year, combined into one bill. It would prevent insurers from basing rates on individuals for vehicles on the status of an insured being a widow or widower, the insured's credit score/rating, or the gender (which really means “sex,” but insurers refer to it as “gender”) of an insured over the age of twenty-five.

The facts haven’t changed to make any of these changes any more redeemable or sensible. To start with the banning using of widow or widower status that typically confers higher rates on previously married individuals, that simply reflects that in general single people drive more, which raises rates. Individual cases vary, but insurers often can’t distinguish among individuals and so are permitted to use this grouping.