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Analysis shows case compelling to make SB 469 law

Given that from the very start the overall themes behind the lawsuit launched by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East were greed, ideology, and power, it’s no accident that forces that support the continuation of the suit channel those qualities in a last ditch effort to keep alive an option contrary to the best interests of the state and its people.

Filed last summer against 97 companies claiming they violated permitting law and had to pay unspecified damages that could reach into the billions of dollars, at the outset its ringleaders openly admitted they saw these oil producers as fatted calves to be slaughtered in order to increase vastly the revenues and spending of their agency, even if their choices seemed outside the scope of their agency’s authority, had no coordination with, or even countered the state’s overall master plan for coastal restoration. Insulated from accountability to taxpayers, this clique blindly asserted that this action was necessary for coastal restoration, and rigged the contract to shunt as much as a third of recovery to go to lawyers it hired and it put in a poison pill provision that meant a huge payday to them even if it chose to drop the suit – a clear breach of fiduciary duty to taxpayers.

In response, SB 469 was passed this session in the Legislature to allow only entities under the state’s Coastal Resources Management Act to bring legal claims involving allegations about permits in coastal areas. Those agencies would be the state, the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, the attorney general, parish governments with coastal management plans, and the local district attorneys for parishes without a plan.


Jindal gets another shot to strengthen CCSS narrative

As the 2014 Louisiana Legislature regular session closed, Gov. Bobby Jindal has strived to have it both ways on the Common Core State Standards, and has a chance to reinforce that soon with a by-product of the session.

Jindal at one time gave understated support (the only kind given for so long since there was no controversy attached to it until about a year ago) to this framework agreed upon by most states for concepts to be taught in schools, but earlier this year reversed course and disavowed both the testing regime Partnership for Accountability and Readiness for Colleges and Careers (largely developed from the state’s previous testing framework) for CCSS and CCSS itself, saying they risked too greatly forcing Louisiana into following a national curriculum. He appeared to be egged on by some legislators, special interests, and concerned parents, first by a claim that he could back out the state unilaterally from participating in PARCC, then by the observation that promulgated rules for PARCC administration he could veto.

The contract withdrawal strategy seemed questionable as it also would take the acquiescence of Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Pres. Chas Roemer and Superintendent of Education John White, who have backed steadfastly CCSS and PARCC. But the Administrative Procedures Act clearly gave Jindal the ability to veto the regulations which, for whatever reason, were issued only in early May. This meant that Jindal had until the end of that month essentially to reject them, which would restart the process. Theoretically, this loop could continue indefinitely and presumably CCSS/PARCC opponents could use the time to induce the state’s withdrawal from them.


Better tweaking of LA capital punishment law needed

Perhaps it's best that the Legislature passed on enacting a bill that tweaked Louisiana's procedures for capital punishment, as more needs doing to ensure that these sentences get levied appropriately.

HB 328 by state Rep. Joe Lopinto would have allowed purchase of the combination of drugs required to produce a lethal injection formula, compounded for executions that minimizes suffering of the guilty, from out-of-state pharmacies and for information regarding suppliers and participants in the process to be kept confidential. Many states have experienced difficulty in getting such chemicals because manufacturers of them face intimidation from vocal minorities against the idea of capital punishment that, if they sell these, negative public relations campaigns against them will be engaged in, leading them reluctant to sell these if knowledge of that becomes public.

In effect, this activism attempts to veto by other means, through preventing the practice from being carried out, the sensible public policy of the use of a death penalty. The fact is that allowing capital punishment makes society better off by saving lives, in three ways. First, it has a proven deterrent effect that preserves the innocent. Second, it protects from those not deterred by ensuring that they never again can threaten society that provides them targets, where they may access those targets through various means such as judicial incompetence that allows them out of prison, within prisons where they have the chance to murder correctional employees and fellow prisoners, and/or by escape. Third, their eternal souls may be saved by having to face execution, for impending death provides a terrific incentive to focus on this aspect of their existence that without they may otherwise never explore, resisting the knowledge that the owner of the vineyard is like God the Father, and that salvation thus can come at any time, even the at the end of life.


Moral, legal factors make surrogacy veto best choice

Even if there hadn’t been a good moral argument for Gov. Bobby Jindal to veto HB 187, there was an additional good policy argument to do so.

This past weekend Jindal issued a veto of the bill by state Rep. Joe Lopinto that would have allowed the state’s judiciary to enforce surrogacy contracts. The bill would have allowed a married couple to hire a surrogate mother aged 24-35 to carry embryos from them and to pay only for expenses for the task and lost wages by the surrogate. It was a much narrower bill than one Jindal vetoed last year tailored to overcome many past objections to it.

But it continued to draw opposition from some, including Louisiana’s Catholic bishops, because the entire concept of surrogate births is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. It denies the unifying grace of marriage and invites the indiscriminate disposal of human life, the unused embryos. And if Jindal has demonstrated nothing else during his political career it’s that on legislation concerning bioethical questions he takes his Catholicism seriously in informing his actions concerning these.


Whitney CD 6 entry dilutes conservative voter influence

Making the stateroom scene in “A Night at the Opera” look relatively barren of people by comparison, the field for Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District gained another major candidate, shifting dynamics of the contest in favor of some at the expense of others.

At about the last minute that a serious candidate could announce with any hope of winning, state Rep. Lenar Whitney danced into the competition. The Republican has served two-and-a-half years of her first term in any elective office, but has considerable connections with local politics in being an ally of state Sen. Norby Chabert (who had considered running for this) and with state politics, in being the party’s national committeewoman to the Republican National Committee.

Those connections and that she is the only candidate from the southernmost part of the district she will need to help her overcome her relatively late start. Some assistance that might have gone to her from regular Republican donors and activists already will have been apportioned elsewhere. She and her husband do appear to have assets that could help finance a campaign, although her state office campaign account at the end of last year was practically empty.