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Edwards loses with failed faux reform bills

A win for Louisiana automobile ratepayers turned into a loss for Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

This week, the Senate Insurance Committee torpedoed a trio of faux tort reform bills backed by the governor, who practiced as a trial lawyer prior to election to the state’s highest office. In his campaigns , he has enjoyed massive direct and indirect support of personal injury lawyers, who use the nation’s most consumer-unfriendly laws to transfer wealth from ratepayers to themselves by foisting the second-highest average vehicle insurance rates onto drivers to fund the more and larger awards the current set of laws allows.

Louisiana Republicans have for years attempted to ameliorate this situation, and with a nearly veto-proof majority in the Legislature they have a real prospect of carrying it off this regular session. To play defense, Edwards adopted a set of bills forwarded by Democrat state Sen. Jay Luneau, a trial lawyer, as a counterweight, to posture as tort reform in competition with a slew of GOP-backed bills that address genuinely the issue.


Improve bills addressing LA spending limit

A pair of bills that address how the Louisiana Legislature deals with the state’s expenditure limit marginally improves the current method, but further alterations build a much better case for their passage into law and adoption into the Constitution.

HB 464 and HB 469 by Republican state Rep. Beau Beaullieu would amend the Constitution and amend statute to alter the formula to compute changes in the expenditure limit and set a cap at five percent increase annually, both overridden only by two-thirds votes of the legislative chambers when in session. The statute also would set the limit annually at the lower of appropriations or the previous limit with the factor applied to both. Long overdue in concept, the details need adjustment or too many opportunities exist to make the cap much less effective.

The House Appropriations Committee started that process by removing language that would allow changes in the formula and cap outside of a specific legislative instrument, leaving less room to manipulate the amount between sessions for political reasons. But further tweaking needs doing to improve the bills even more as these advance to the full House and beyond.


Edwards closes barn door two months late

It’s a classic from liberalism’s playbook: create a problem through its policy failures, then propose a harmful, drastic solution to address that. Whether consciously, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has come full circle in this way with his recent closing of the barn door two months after the horse escaped.

In this instance, the barn door was pursuing a timely test and trace strategy that would have kept blockaded a more pernicious spread of the Wuhan coronavirus – the horse. Edwards now predicates lifting or not extending further restrictions he began putting into place in the middle of March on the state’s ability to accomplish this. Despite no real evidence that certain regions of the state had experienced increased numbers of or rates of infections, last week Edwards used that excuse and what he regarded as insufficient testing capacity to continue restrictions indiscriminately across Louisiana through the middle of May.

Recently, he has said testing and tracing capacity should ramp up to make for greater ability in identifying individuals in contact with those infected and administering tests to them as well. But his newfound enthusiasm for this course seemed absent in late February, even though he had warnings and models to follow.


Democrats flail futilely against GOP majority

Let the gamesmanship begin, as legislative Democrats brought a knife to a gunfight with Republicans.

Louisiana Democrats, particularly Gov. John Bel Edwards, want to circumscribe the state Legislature in whatever way possible, because they barely muster a third of its membership. The longer they can jawbone their way into impeding the Legislature, the fewer policy defeats they will suffer.

The resistance has manifested in various forms. First, attendance for the chambers when they met, which seldom has more than a few members missing, were down considerably with just 78 of 105 in the House and the Senate had 23 of 39 (a few more would filter in, disproportionately in the Senate, as their legislative days progressed and had their names added as present). About half of Democrats played hooky as a form of protest to getting the people’s business done because they fear they won’t like the policy outputs, even as they present weak arguments to obscure that.


GOP can put Edwards on path to irrelevancy

The next month will determine whether the governorship of Democrat John Bel Edwards becomes irrelevant, or merely slides into semi-irrelevancy.

It’s over immediately for Edwards as a significant agent in Louisiana’s policy-making process if a petition to attenuate, if not overturn, his emergency proclamations regarding the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic succeeds in the next couple of days. Despite scant evidence to support his claims, last week Edwards alleged he needed to continue the series of restrictions (absent very minor modifications) imposed over the past 45 days on gatherings and business activities in the state, and issued the appropriate proclamation. This irked mainly Republican legislators, who wish to utilize state law to reverse some, if not all, of those restrictions through a majority in at least one legislative chamber.

If they pull it off, it’s open season on Edwards’ agenda from there on out. Proven impotent by majorities who demonstrated willingness to use their power, he will lose much of the informal authority derived from the office’s formal powers. For example, with this proven ability to defy what’s to stop the logrolling that produces line-item capital expenditures in budgeting from gathering majorities to hold quick veto override sessions where two-thirds votes wipe out gubernatorial line-item vetoes? Chamber GOP leaderships will tell Democrats that if they want line items in budgets, they’ll have to join in the overrides, and they’ll know they can’t depend upon Edwards to bail them out.