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LA policy-makers must extend smoking ban

The good news is the smoking ban in East Baton Rouge Parish, including Baton Rouge, is producing the intended effect. The bad news is some renegade metropolitan areas in Louisiana still discriminate against individuals with pulmonary limitations – but state policy-makers can do something about it.

About a year-and-a-half after the ban, mirroring state law except it included casinos and bars, went into effect, air quality in a sample of those businesses showed indoor air pollution dropped 98 percent. The group that sponsored the testing hailed these results as victory for people employed in those establishments in their avoiding second-hand smoke.

But the real winners are the growing segment of adult Americans who suffer from some kind of respiratory ailment. About three in ten have one of emphysema, asthma, hay fever, sinusitis, or chronic bronchitis. A much smaller proportion have much more serious conditions that require consistent medical intervention to allow them to breathe.


Edwards politicizes by calling others political

Politics were on display when Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference met last week ironically with the agent politicizing the process accused another member of doing just that.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his panel designee Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne didn’t like that the REC – which also has as members the Speaker of the House or his designee, the Senate President or his designee, and an independent economist – refused to bump up the official revenue forecast by $40 million. Both an economist from the Division of Administration and from the Legislature recommended that emendation to the forecast.

The REC sets the revenue baseline for the governor’s executive budget for next fiscal year, released a month into a calendar year, as well as affects whether government may spend more or have to cut in the current fiscal year. An extra $40 million added to the existing forecast helps Edwards politically in three ways: by making it appear the state enjoyed increased prosperity under him, by hiking the baseline thereby giving him more to distribute to favored constituencies next year, and – in an atypical budget arrangement in effect only this year – allows spending contingency funds for specific purposes that total (perhaps not coincidentally) $43.3 million.


Leger likely to challenge Landry, lose

Louisiana Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry likely will draw a high-profile Democrat challenger, but is unlikely to lose his reelection bid.

Recently, Landry announced his intentions to run for a second term, and (insert here customary declaration the statement that follows next is certainty unless the candidate in question gets caught with a live boy or dead girl) is pretty close to a lock to winning that. In part, it’s because of the historic nature of his first three years in office.

Until Landry assumed the Department of Justice helm by defeating seasoned two-term incumbent Republican Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana attorney generals had a marginal role in defining the exercise of state government power. Constitutionally, the officer mainly deals with civil law, although a district attorney or court may invite him to deal with criminal matters. Statute also gives him a variety of powers not inconsistent with these in the Constitution.


Kennedy correct: voting a privilege, not right

When Louisiana’s junior Republican Sen. John Kennedy calls voting a “privilege,” constitutionally he’s correct.

Kennedy, who occasionally moonlights teaching constitutional law at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, made that remark incident to a feud over which felons may vote between GOP Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin (currently standing for his current job on Dec. 8) and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. His statement came under question in a column by the Baton Rouge Advocate’s Mark Ballard (I am contracted to write a weekly opinion column for The Advocate).

Ballard’s allegation reads in full: