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Trendy law empowers Shreveport govt at people's expense

Continuing a trend for decades as a result of Shreveport’s economic stagnation, too often the political establishment’s reaction to this slow wasting is to make reactive policy that concerns itself more with image than with beneficial substantive effect. Recent passage of the so-called “Fairness Ordinance” provides another example that does nothing helpful and, worse, creates a bad precedent in privileging certain behaviors with detrimental consequences to individual freedom.

The ordinance echoes parts of state law in that it disallows discrimination in provision of services or accommodations, hiring and applying personnel practices to hired employees, and renting and selling of real estate on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, age, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political or religious affiliations – but with sexual orientation and gender identity added as they appear nowhere under state law. It exempts businesses with fewer than eight employees, landlords of fewer than five units, and religious organizations.

Immediately striking is the intellectually slipshod way in which the protected classes are amalgamated. Most of the list concerns immutable factors about human beings – your DNA makes you of a certain race and sex and disability, your circumstances and life history determine your disability, origin, ancestry, and age – but also includes four behavioral attributes. While discrimination prohibition against what people are is of a grave concern to government, because they are what they are and there has to be an extraordinarily compelling reason to treat people different on that basis, in allowing government to specify acceptable attitudes and behavior in treating people differently on the basis of attitudes and expression of them through behavior invites tyranny and must have a high standard of proof to allow for it.


Stop bonus funds shell game with needed legal change

Machinations and fortune are combining to make the ultimate disposition – and therefore the fate of a balanced fiscal year 2014 budget for Louisiana – of the latest version of state tax amnesty more and more interesting, and political.

Turns out that the nonprofit (if funded by both politically neutral and leftist sources) news source The Lens got hold of a memo from state Rep. Joel Robideaux that described past tactics in dealing with amnesty money. The first phase of this version has been completed with a goal of securing $200 million that appears to have been exceeded. Each of the next two fiscal years also features smaller, less-generous versions to delinquent taxpayers.

In it, Robideuax lays out a strategy of funds transfers that he said for fiscal year 2010 laundered amnesty dollars for use in the operating budget. Any money that arrives in excess of forecasts by the Revenue Estimating Conference, which explicitly excludes amnesty proceeds, when forecast subsequently by the REC, unless it designated otherwise is classified as nonrecurring and thereby becomes unavailable for use in the operating budget. Robideaux described a process that shifted money, some designated by the statute setting up the amnesty and another portion declared by the REC as nonrecurring, and essentially sanitized it all into recurring money thusly eligible for use as operating funds.


Real ethics gold standard in reach of LA policy-makers

Maybe Gov. Bobby Jindal and reform-minded members new and old got the Legislature to install the silver standard of ethics laws for itself almost six years ago, but it seems clear that getting to a geniune gold standard is going to take some work, given some of the attitudes of its more revanchist members.

Last week the Joint Governmental and Affairs Committee (that is, each chamber’s respective committee of this kind) met to gather data as a result of state Sen. Jody Amedee’s SCR 78 passed last session. The bill asked to study the appropriate use of campaign funds and the administration and enforcement of laws within the jurisdiction of the state’s Board of Ethics. It is to deliver a report on the subject in just under three months.

Board and interest group representatives urged it to ban certain freewheeling practices legally allowed with campaign dollars. For example, lawmakers may use such money to pay for event tickets at which they are not invited guests and for meals and to lease vehicles of any quality for “non-personal” use as long as they have some remote connection to campaigning or performance of office duties. Serving as an example for the ordinary members of his chamber, Sen. Pres. John Alario spent since those reforms passed through last year over $52,000 on an auto lease, around $57,000 on events, and thousands more on fine dining.


Desperation drives T-P flogging of dead expansion horse

If you are feeling a bit like Sisyphus or Phil Connors when perusing the editorial page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, you’re not alone. There’s a reason why you keep reading again and again what seems to be the same editorial touting that Louisiana should expand Medicaid eligibility courtesy of the Patient Protection and (Un)Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) – ideological intransigence in the service of trying to save this law that its editorial writers worship.

No fewer than seven times, about once a month since April, has the T-P regurgitated the same thing, that the state, if not the Legislature then Gov. Bobby Jindal, should take the option to expand Medicaid eligibility. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared invalid the part of the law that the federal government could force states into expanding it, leaving that as a state-by-state option. The law also allows for the federal government to pay for the entire expansion starting in 2014 and next couple of years, and then the state begins picking up a share until it levels off in 2020 at 10 percent (far less than the roughly 40 percent or so that changes annually under the current, more stringent eligibility requirements).

The basic argument remains the same: so much federal money flowing in, it’s “free” for the first few years, the moderately poor should have it instead of depending upon uncompensated care, hundreds of thousands could benefit, ad nauseam. It appears to continue belting out one of these rehashes each lunar cycle because Jindal never complies.


Edwards' polling, statements reflect poorly on candidacy

Some recent information about and statements made by state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only officially announced for governor in 2015, if they actually want to win the office may have Democrats looking for a more capable candidate.

The leader of his party caucus didn’t fare well in a recent poll about that, corralling less than 10 percent of the vote and trailing considerably three Republican names put forward. However, it’s early and the question did not indicate partisanship, which would have boosted his totals somewhat (although having the same last name as Prisoner #03128-095, for whom some segment of Democrats in the state would vote for even if it were revealed he rooted for the University of Alabama and played poker with Nick Saban and who appeared on a sub-literate reality television show, should have provided some cachet to increase John’s totals), so on that basis alone, as a standard-bearer for Democrats’ aspiration here he might do.

Unless he goes around saying stupid stuff, and he does. Witness his remarks to the Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Faculty Senate (historically not exactly the most distinguished policy thinkers in higher education or anything else) where he provided his analysis of funding policy in this area over the past several years that concluded there has not been enough will to fund higher education in the state.