particularly bad prefiled bill for the Louisiana Legislature’s upcoming
regular session betrays both an authoritarian impulse and admission of policy
HB 15 by
Democrat state Rep. Ted James
would alter state law regarding creation of new municipalities, but targeted at
just one parish. If enacted, no longer would incipient municipalities in East
Baton Rouge Parish merely need to obtain majority voter approval from those in
the area wishing to incorporate; it also would require a majority of the parish’s
electors as well.
Such policy dramatically departs not just from
Louisiana law, but that generally
among America’s states. No state allows voters from surrounding local
governments to have any say over the wishes of unincorporated areas; the
closest strictures to that are prohibition of incorporating within a certain
distance of another municipality without its consent or having the state or a
county-level government organ decide rather than putting the matter to a vote
of those in the area petitioning for incorporation. Having just one part of a
state operate under a different law than the rest of it is unprecedented.
Practically no one likes having their day disrupted
by panhandlers, and Bossier City wishes to join Shreveport in regulating the
practice largely into nonexistence. The problem is the two proposed ordinances
and Shreveport’s on the books likely are unconstitutional.
Councilman Thomas Harvey last week introduced
an ordinance to ban all panhandling by roadways and another banning aggressive
or threatening personal solicitation in and around businesses. Only Councilman
Jeff Darby objected to the measures, citing a desire to assist individuals he
claimed down on their luck.
Shreveport has had an ordinance
since 2004 essentially covering both concerns. Bossier City officials thought
that increased enforcement of this had caused a “surge” of panhandlers across
the river, necessitating the new laws that move on to consideration of final
passage next month.
With the exception of mentioning his name and West
Point’s honor code together, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards over the
past couple of years most often is heard saying “this
not the budget proposal I want to present.” But in this case, it turns out
to be the one Louisiana should want, for now.
The day after the Legislature wrapped up the First
Extraordinary Session of 2017, its Joint
Legislative Committee on the Budget went back to work by hearing a presentation
of Edwards’ budget submission for fiscal year 2018. Increased by $1.5
billion to $29.7 billion over last year’s, in terms of its general fund next
year’s budget falls $440 million under what the governor would like, according
to revenue estimates at present.
Edwards graciously provided a list of items to add
in with more funding; i.e. tax increases: paying for all of Taylor Opportunity
Program for Students awards instead of only about 70 percent; increasing the
Minimum Foundation Program that funds schools 2.75 percent, giving performance
raises for state employees; restoring old rates for charity hospital providers
and privatized prisons; matching funds for transportation that unless provided could
lose federal funds; and making a small two percent reduction from last
year’s totals to many agencies, among others. The roster did not include
deferred maintenance at higher education institutions – about $1.75 billion
worth – nor additional waiver slots to allow home- and community-based services
for people with disabilities.
A move to institute a charter school in East
Feliciana parish shows how far the educational reform ethos has come in
Louisiana and the tension it continues to introduce between families and
interests backing traditional state-monopoly schools.
week, the process began for the conversion of Slaughter Elementary School,
a traditional government-run school, into a charter school. It involved an
enhanced use of the “parent trigger,” which allows families to wrest a public
school from local governance and have it run by a nonprofit entity, contracted
either to the local district or with the state.
When Louisiana conducted a massive overhaul of its
educational system in the direction of school choice in 2012, the dramatic
changes overshadowed parent trigger provisions included. And what little
publicity these received focused on parents’ ability on their own to convert
low-performing schools in R.S. 17:10.5.