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After ruling, Edwards must avoid acting irresponsibly

Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards loves to implore state policy-makers to work together. Now he has a chance to put his money where his mouth is.

Yesterday, state District Court Judge Todd Hernandez handed Edwards a setback in a case involving his executive order JBE 16-11, which sets out parameters for employment and contracting provisions engaged in by the state. It sets up a number of protected classes that largely mirror federal and state law, except that it adds in classes of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” – terms nowhere defined by any law.

This prompted Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry to sue Edwards to prevent application of the order in its entirety. Landry’s special concern came in contracting, as the attorney general must sign off on state contracts for these to become valid – a power Edwards already had challenged unsuccessfully in a different court. Because contracts emanating from the Division of Administration contained the phrasing reflecting the order, Landry refused to approve of these (including one that would shift funds to his office), as well as those from other agencies, due to his interpretation that a governor could not expand unilaterally these classes, in effect creating law. For the same reason, the House Appropriations Committee refused to approve of contracts it needed to vet.


Edwards resists maneuver to right-size LA govt

Just as Louisiana’s House Republican leadership seems bound to cut the size of government, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards seems determined to keep it inflated with assistance from media allies.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference, told that in addition to an already hypothesized $313 million deficit that as much as $464 million could develop on top of that, the panel deferred 2-2 to make an official adjustment to the forecast. Edwards’ right-hand man Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and Edwards’ ally Republican Sen. Pres. John Alario voted to make the recognition, but GOP House Speaker Taylor Barras and economist Jim Richardson deferred.

Barras said he wanted to take another month to see whether revenues, which continue to underperform predictions, would snap back. Richardson said he felt on the fence between officially starting the deficit reconciliation process and hoping for more revenue but Barras’ position he found reasonable enough to tip the balance in favor of no declaration. In any event, even one vote against would block making revised projections, as only unanimity can change a forecast.


Campbell blowout loss brings doubt to his PSC future

Last weekend’s elections produced a big and unexpected surprise in north Louisiana in a cycle that should not have produced anything unusual, perhaps foretelling the future.

As expected, Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson crushed Democrat lawyer Marshall Johnson in racking up nearly two-thirds of the vote. History tells us that Johnson can stay as long as he likes, as no incumbent has lost reelection to this Shreveport-based district since former Gov. Buddy Roemer upended former one-term Rep. Buddy Leach in 1980, which broke a six-decade stretch of successful incumbent reelections. Johnson’s rock-ribbed conservatism combined with superior analytical and rhetorical skills honed by a legal career featuring his argumentation in front of the U.S. Supreme Court will make him, absent enormous change in district attitudes, hard to dislodge.

It also came as no surprise that the area’s Democrat Public Serviced Commissioner Foster Campbell lost to Republican Treasurer John Kennedy for the open U.S. Senate seat. But the margin of his defeat and how it happened does raise some eyebrows.


GOP voters punish Angelle, cap his political career

Payback time came for Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, with a gift that keeps on giving for Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Last year, Edwards won the governorship in part because of the gusto at which Angelle joined him in attacking GOP Sen. David Vitter. Angelle hoped that by tearing down Vitter he could join Edwards in the runoff, where dynamics suggested he could defeat him. Instead, he fell short, then refused to endorse Vitter in the runoff.

One could make a strategic case for Angelle’s deferral: so badly tarnished had the tag-team disparagement of Vitter made the senator that associating with him potentially could have damaged Angelle for his future political endeavors – the next step to which became clear shortly thereafter when he announced a run for the Third Congressional District. Yet at the same time that carried great risk, for refusal to back Vitter even as it appeared his ship would sink to Republicans made Angelle seem like a disloyal opportunist, willing to stab in the back the party’s best hope to win in order to advance his own political ambitions.