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Predictably, special session call contains risky items

Following the pattern in her first special session call last year, once again Gov. Kathleen Blanco has issued items where government could perpetrate some profound mischief on Louisiana’s citizenry.

The clearest danger comes from #19, which invites fraud and abuse in elections for years, even decades, to come. It allows for people whose identities never have been verified to vote in an election. No date is given, so presumably the Democrat-led Legislature with the Governor could come up with a bill that would apply to so-called first-time voters during the rescheduled New Orleans elections, or for that to fill the slot of Secretary of State (maybe Lieutenant Governor, too?), or in congressional elections after that, even the 2008 elections including that for president, so long as it is the “first” election that person votes in. Separately, #20 also contains abuse potential, because it would allow for people to vote outside of their parishes, unless accurate rolls are made available in these alternative places from the other parishes. Together, #19 and #20 could wreak tremendous havoc on Louisiana’s democracy.

Items #5 and #17 together also could have a tremendous deleterious impact on the state. These could be used by the majoritarian branches to force insurance companies to pay out for policies unwritten or for purposes for which the policies weren’t written, i.e. force them to pay off for flood claims when policies didn’t cover them. That would send rates for everybody in the state through the ceiling (if making up for the state insurance company’s losses doesn’t already), if insurance companies would write any such policies at all after such a bait-and-switch.

Finally, together items #33 and #34 could permit the state to begin issuing debt to pay for continuing operations. If debt must be issued, it should be for immovables related to recovery, rather than go down the same road that gave Louisiana the highest per capita debt in the nation 15 years ago.

With provisions such as these in the call, both sensible legislators and citizens must keep watch over the Legislature beginning next week to try to negate the possibly severe side effects.

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