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LA ganja law revisions must restrict, not expand, use

At least they listened to this space and took another whack at it. But there’s no real evidence that the bill offered will provide any real benefits and threatens unseemly costs. Indeed, it heads in the wrong direction.

Yesterday the Louisiana Senate passed SB 271 by state Sen. Fred Mills. It makes changes to the medical marijuana law passed last year that left many holes and questions in its wake. Among other things, the production mechanism makes this part of the process clumsy, the restricted distribution network invites cronyism and corruption, it sidesteps federal law that will discourage legal authorization for its use, it legally allows for a potentially incomplete range of uses, and the scientific evidence for the efficacy justifying those uses remains at best sketchy.

This updated version tries to address many of these questions by changing language regarding authorization of use and production and swelling considerably the number of conditions eligible for its use. Application of cannabis according to it remains in liquid form.


Problematic attitudes hamper fixing LA budget

Look no further for why Louisiana’s legislators submit to tax increases rather than inducing enhanced fiscal rationality into the budgeting process than recent remakes regarding bills that would impact the issue of dedicated funding.

During a recent meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, a representative from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries complained about measures that would allow redirections of more money from several dedicated funds that funnel money to the department or abolish these funds entirely. In the convoluted world of Louisiana bureaucracy, the Commission deals with policy in the form of rulemaking, licensing, regulation, enforcement, and adjudication, while the Department deals with all other administrative matters including budgeting, personnel and legal and public representation.

Redirection or abolishment from two funds, the Artificial Reef Development Fund and the Conservation Fund, particularly concerned the Department. The former collects donations from oil producers decommissioning platforms where instead of spending to remove them these may stay offshore by coughing up half that projected charge to the state, while the latter captures revenues from a multitude of sources, mainly licenses for outdoors-related activities and sales thereof, fines, fees from prestige license plates, and mineral royalties from state lands. The former contributed about one-sixteenth percent of the Department’s budget, while the latter constituted just over half.


State appropriate venue to judge monuments' value

Debate over state Rep. Thomas Carmody’s HB 944 raises complex questions about who decides what historical monuments remain on public property. Ultimately, drawing upon first principles of American government resolves these.

The bill goes into greater detail than state Sen. Beth Mizell’s SB 276, but like it makes a state commission the arbiter of whether local governments may move or remove monuments dealing with historical events and people. Carmody’s bill presumes that any such structure in place for at least three decades a local government cannot move without the body’s approval.

Controversy over these items arose last year when New Orleans announced opposition to, then ratified the movement of, four monuments related to the Civil War. This has faced legal and administrative hurdles since, but by no means represents an isolated arena of conflict. In Shreveport, for example, the monument in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse that commemorates the Confederate States of America’s last capital has garnered calls for its removal.


Outrageous LA mayor salaries need capping

The bizarreness of the arrest and subsequently dropping of charges against a television reporter by White Castle, population 1,883, officials pales to that in comparison of many small Louisiana municipalities paying part-time mayors exorbitant salaries, a practice that must end.

Baton Rouge station WBRZ’s Chris Nakamoto found himself under arrest last month for making inquiries about the salary of the town’s Mayor Gerald Jamarr Williams, which had nearly doubled recently to over $50,000. The city attorney – also appointed by its aldermen to serve as the judge of its mayor’s court, making her both prosecutor and judge – said Nakamoto had acted in a disorderly fashion while trying to access town records. Without comment, the attorney/judge dropped the charges recently.

It’s not the first time a mayor’s salary in a small Louisiana municipality has touched a nerve. In 2013, the newly-elected mayor of Port Allen, population 5,101, went on a spending spree for her inauguration and that and other spending prompted the aldermen to cut her salary $20,000 – all the way down to $65,000 annually – but done illegally (municipal legislatures cannot cut mayoral salaries during their terms). In 2014, irate constituents threw her out of office.