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Thanksgiving Day, 2016

This column publishes usually every Sunday through Thursday around  noon (sometimes even before; maybe even after sundown on busy days) U.S. Central Time except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Independence Day or Christmas or New Year's when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, there are six of these: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. My column for The Advocate will run on Easter Sunday.

With Thursday, Nov. 24 being Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to explore this link.


Delay appropriate to resolve constitutional question

A Louisiana House panel last week wisely held off on approving health insurance provider contracts, but the prudential value of this action will decay rapidly.

The House Appropriations Committee refused to act upon approval of these, which relate to the state providing health insurance to its employees beginning Jan. 1, because of legally-questionable language. The documents incorporate phrasing from Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive order JBE 16-11, that states “contracts for purchases of services … shall include a provision that the contractor shall not discriminate on the basis of … sexual orientation, gender identity….”

The authority a governor has to create protected classes of individuals undefined by law, as are sexual orientation and gender identity, runs counter to opinion #16-0078 issued by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry. He has taken the matter has to court to resolve the ambiguity, with the case’s next hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.


LA public asks for smarter, not bigger, state govt

Efforts at tax simplification and whittling away roads needs in Louisiana won’t necessarily dissipate if policy-makers won’t use these as excuses to raise taxes.

About the time the state’s Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy released its report to accomplish its mission, voters turned away a constitutional amendment that would have implemented a matter related to the panel’s final report: removing the constitutional protection of corporations to deduct federal taxes paid for their state tax liability. Companion legislation would have removed the deduction and refigured marginal corporate tax rates from several brackets topping out at 8 percent to a flat rate of 6.5 percent.

That attempt echoed the report’s suggestion that the same happen to the constitutional protection mandating individual deductibility along the same lines. If the electorate felt uneasy about the corporate version, that could make the same in the case of individuals dead in the water, a notion floated by the House Republican leadership.


Outsider perception guiding LA contests for Congress

As expected, of the three contests left for federal elective office in the 2016 cycle in Louisiana (and the nation), the one featuring an intra-party battle looks the most interesting, if polling data prove correct. Yet all three ratify the notion that 2016 is the year of anti-establishmentarian politics.

After most survey outfits missed the call in the presidential contest (and quite a few other statewide races across the country), one might question legitimately the accuracy of surveys of Louisiana’s Third and Fourth Congressional District runoffs as well as that for the Senate. But not only do these align with conventional wisdom, they also came from one of the few pollsters to pick accurately the electoral college win of Pres.-elect Donald Trump. (Note: I was one of the respondents for two of these, and judging from the demographics the sampling seems right.) And these bring bad news for Democrats.

For the Senate, Republican Treasurer John Kennedy holds a 58-35 percent lead over Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (numbers throughout include both definite and leaning vote intentions). Campbell’s only lead occurs in CD 2, with its 63 percent black registration and, somewhat humiliating, trailed Kennedy by 21 points in his home CD 4. It’s hard to win statewide when picking up just over 20 percent of the white vote and barely half of your own partisans, while Kennedy picked up five out of every six Republicans and a majority of other/no party voters.