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Cortez choices neuter Edwards agenda

The week may not have started great for Louisiana conservatives, but it ended with a bang.

Republican Sen. Pres. Page Cortez announced his committee selections, both members and leaders. He said he tried to balance assignments given the demographic composition of the body, as well as adhering to the tradition of giving some influence to the minority party.

However, with the GOP holding down 27 of the 39 seats — and only a few of those in the majority not identified with the clearly conservative wing of the party — his final product has an unambiguous conservative bias. Start with the three most important panels: Finance, Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, and Senate and Governmental Affairs. They all have overwhelming Republican majorities and staunch conservatives — respectively, state Sens. Bodi White, Bret Allain, and Sharon Hewitt — in charge. This stands in great contrast to the previous four years.


LA should scrap unlawful party restrictions

While political party weakness reverberates throughout Louisiana’s immature political system – witness the House speaker election – the majority Republicans in the Legislature can reduce the self-infliction in how parties govern themselves.

At present, the state creates a two-tier system for a recognized party’s governance. If a party can claim at least 30 percent of the state’s registrants, it must elect to the governing state central committee one male and female member for each House district, or 210 total. Otherwise, it can set up the composition of the SCC however it likes (except that if it is the party of the governor, he or his designee has a seat).

The change to the law that released all but Democrats out of this straitjacket came over three decades ago, when Democrats held a solid majority of registrants and Republicans not many. Two decades ago, the GOP only claimed 22 percent, but now have 31 percent.


Schexnayder can choose fiscal conservatism

Many conservatives in Louisiana may have felt disappointment of the victory of state Rep. Clay Schexnayder over state Rep. Sherman Mack, both Republicans, for the position of House speaker. Whether that puts a significantly moderate stamp on the chamber for the next four years, dimming the already-dusky chances of significant reform legislation, tax relief, and spending restraint until 2024, as previously noted depends upon the raw material Schexnayder has for committee assignments and chairmanships.

Mack gained backing from a number of unapologetic conservatives in the chamber, which would have guaranteed the most important committees have conservatives helm them and almost all committees would have unambiguously conservative majorities. Whether Schexnayder wishes to pursue the same course, if he largely sticks to the ones that brought him to the dance he won’t quite have the same resources.

Not that it’s impossible. For all the hand-wringing the political right may engage in over the outcome, where Schexnayder’s winning coalition contains a majority of Democrats, among the GOP members who have served through at least a couple of regular sessions in the past four years, there’s not a vast difference between the blocs.


Edwards address encourages LA exodus

If you probe even a little into issues behind Louisiana government today – and especially if you are an informed, motivated person who looks to get ahead in life – Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwardssecond inaugural speech was, in a word, depressing.

Not so much because it contained the ever-growing litany of half-truths and outright lies Louisianans have heard Edwards repeat over the years. There were plenty, but the most prominent examples will suffice:

·       “There’s no denying we are in a much better place now than we have been in many years.” Horse hockey. A net nearly 100,000 people have fled Louisiana since the middle of 2015, and since Edwards took office it has had a worse business climate, worse fiscal health, and has fallen compared to other states in almost every category of economic health from unemployment to number of jobs to personal income growth to state gross domestic product. Meanwhile, taxes are higher and so is poverty.


Schexnayder win may prompt lame repeat

Protector of conservatism or wolf in sheep’s clothing? Louisiana will find out upon the election of Republican state Rep. Clay Schexnayder as Speaker of the House.

The election made history as for the first time the body nominated only Republicans for the job, with Republican state Rep. Sherman Mack also having his named entered.  But it displayed continuity with the past when the winning candidate secured more voted from Democrats than from Republicans.

Schexnayder prevailed 60 to 45, with all Democrats on his side. Two-thirds of Republicans voted for Mack, including about all of the party members with well-known conservative credentials. Mack also had drawn public support from two highly-placed GOP elected officials also viewed as solid conservatives, Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry and Sen. John Kennedy, the leaders of a conservative PAC that had donated to the campaigns of many of the Republicans present at the vote.