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Rather than clarify, sweeps decision confuses

Confusion is as confusion does, which sums up perfectly an incomprehensible ruling on an important question in Louisiana governance.

Yesterday, state District Judge Don Johnson issued a ruling declaring a case of a fund sweep unconstitutional. In this instance, the Legislature lifted from Public Service Commission revenues collected by fees on regulated carriers, appropriating some of that amount to pay for other operations of government.

Interestingly, Johnson last week appeared to have delivered two versions, taking different sides. For whatever reason, it all got sorted out yesterday in favor of a dramatic substitution of judicial opinion for the actual wording of the Constitution.


Big-govt senators ask Edwards to help them

Memo to a bunch of Louisiana state senators: Read the Louisiana Constitution.

Earlier this week, 11 of the majority Republicans joined by three Democrats sent a note to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, urging him to call a special session prior to the start of the regular session Mar. 12. This being an even-numbered year, legislators can’t deal with tax bills in a regular session. With a nearly billion-dollar deficit staring lawmakers in their faces for fiscal year 2019, it seems likely that, at the least, the Legislature will have to tackle renewing temporary taxes.

Most prominently signed by the GOP Sen. Pres. John Alario, the authors point out that the sooner, the better for such a session, in terms of options available. Edwards has said he won’t call the session, a power granted to him under Art. III Sec. 2 which also allows him to set the agenda, unless he has a commitment from the leadership of both chambers to raise specific taxes on a permanent basis. So far, particularly the House leadership, like the Senate’s composed of Republicans, has not assented to any permanent tax increases.


Political intrigue swirls around casino move threat

Whether it’s a power play to extract concessions, DiamondJacks Casino’s possible move to Tangipahoa Parish carries plenty of political intrigue.

Peninsula Pacific, the parent company of the facility which bought it about a year-and-half ago, has said it has $100 million to invest in the laggard of Bossier City’s four boats. However, that might not happen in Bossier Parish. That company has floated the idea to move the boat to the Amite River in Tangipahoa Parish in a bid to improve its fortunes.

By most measures, DiamondJacks performs worse than any of the 15 non-land casinos in Louisiana. For fiscal year 2016, it registered the second-smallest take, behind only the Amelia Belle located in an area relatively far from state borders with a far smaller population base than Shreveport/Bossier. Its admissions were among the lowest; together, these statistics translated into the smallest take per admission of all state boats.


Change LA law to bolster govt accountability

Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry may feel pressured into pursuing legal action against opioid manufacturers. But he has no reason to continue defending an unconstitutional law, nor should Louisiana legislators keep it as is on the books.

Recent federal court decisions have taken a dim view of the state’s R.S. 14:122, which begins “Public intimidation is the use of violence, force, or threats upon any of the following persons, with the intent to influence his conduct in relation to his position, employment, or duty …  Public officer or public employee.” It has good intentions, to prevent discouraging such officials from carrying out their duties.

However, it goes overboard as its language can apply to citizens expressing their rights to hold public servants accountable for their actions. In two recent cases, federal courts have registered strong reservations about overbroad application regarding police behavior, refusing to side with government when it has issued citations utilizing this law.