Popularity and political muscle don’t make bad law good, changing something’s name doesn’t change its importance, and a politician’s personal political pique shouldn’t cost taxpayers money are all understandings that would aid state Rep. Joe Harrison in doing his job.
Harrison has misfortune to be in the Louisiana Legislature’s Republican majority but out of step with its prevailing idea that government ought to be right-sized and taxpayer-friendly. On several issues, such as improving education by disempowering special interests, trying to rein in the gravy train of retirement benefits paid out to state government employees and to privatizing operations to make a bloated public hospital system run more efficiently, Harrison has protected through word and deed big government by strident opposition to these kinds of relief.
Lately, he has expressed this through a useless measure that created a cabinet-level Department of Elderly Affairs. It garnered many co-sponsors and two unanimous chamber votes, because to vote against it would seem like voting against your grandparents, But it would do nothing any differently or better for the state’s elderly than organizing most programs addressing elderly concerns in the current Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs – if it actually came into existence, because the Constitution limits the number of cabinet departments to 20 with all spots taken. The only difference is a few other smaller agencies also could be folded into the new department.