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Edwards in salvage mode with line item vetoes

Wounded animals lash out, and that’s what Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has done wielding his veto pen after the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the Republican-led Louisiana Legislature in the first half of the year.

With the possible exceptions of former Republican Govs. Dave Treen and Buddy Roemer, no governor in modern state history suffered more brutalization in a calendar year by legislators as did Edwards this year. He absorbed several defeats in the almost total failure of his agenda and in having to accept things contrary to it.

Chief among these was tort reform that will trigger lower vehicle insurance premiums but at the cost of defunding both one of his major constituencies and state Democrats. Republicans outmaneuvered him to put him in a no-win situation where he dares not exercise his veto power. They did the same regarding capital outlay, forcing him to accept in total the Legislature’s list.


LA higher education in need of more oversight

Is it any wonder Louisiana’s legislators failed to renew university autonomy measures during this year’s sessions? And maybe should have attenuated higher education’s independent revenue-raising capacity even more?

For the past decade, the state’s universities have enjoyed a limited degree of financial autonomy. Louisiana has the tightest restrictions in the country on how universities may raise their own revenues, with legislative approval nominally needed. But past legislation gave schools some flexibility without legislative approval to raise tuition and fees up to ten percent annually until it met national averages. It also allowed imposition of special mandatory fees dedicated to certain purposes as long as these with tuition didn’t exceed national averages without that legislative vetting.

That authority expired at the end of June, even with legislative extension attempts out there made by one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee Republican state Rep. Zee Zeringue, along with at first dozens of co-authors. His HB 689 during the regular session would have extended initially the autonomy authority for another three years. The Legislature didn’t pursue that with a special session in the offing, so Zeringue tried again with HB 26 during the regular session.


Too many LA leaders botching virus endgame

The same lack of vision and leadership that caused Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to botch the opening rounds of Louisiana’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic threatens the same for the emergency’s endgame.

In this situation, Louisiana suffered quickly and disproportionately largely because of decisions Edwards made. While he would have needed seer-like qualities to have understood the virus impact in mid-February to order cancellation of Carnival festivities, by its end the shape of things to come was evident.

Instead of immediately placing some restrictions on potential hotpots, launching infrastructure for testing and care of positive patients on a massive scale, and ramping up tracing capacity, Edwards dithered. Failing to take these measured actions earlier, he belatedly overreacted, shutting down quickly massive swaths of the state’s economy indiscriminately. As a result, too many people needlessly became infected early on, creating a bigger epidemiological curve, which then triggered a desperate attempt to flatten it which only has served to delay achieving the necessary solution: the acquisition of “herd immunity.”


Legislator expiation leads to stupid theorizing

Passage of historic tort reform legislation has forced at least one leftist Louisiana legislator not just to express expiation but also to expound economic ignorance and illiteracy.

Democrat state Rep. Malinda White sinned multiply against her liberal allies. She joined a veto-proof majority with initial House approval during the regular session of SB 418, then abstained on the version that drew the veto of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Then, in the special session she voted with a larger veto-proof bunch for the stronger HB 57 and with an even larger majority to send it to Edwards, who has said he will sign it.

That uppity behavior won’t go unnoticed by party powerbrokers, who remain indebted to the trial lawyer lobby and hope to see donations from it fall as little as possible given personal injury lawyers’ smaller profit margins and their annoyance at Democrats’ inability to curtail the transfer of wealth from vehicle insurance ratepayers to their pockets. So, White devised a way to compensate for her apostasy.