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4.8.21

Petty, immature councilors disserving Bossier

Unless some of the clowns part the circus that never leaves Bossier City, better known as its City Council, accept the electorate’s choice of mayor, citizens have a long four years ahead.

This Tuesday’s Council meeting seemed an opportunity to have recede into the background the acrimony evident between three councilors – no party Jeff Darby, Republican David Montgomery, and Democrat Bubba Williams – and Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler. This spring Chandler upset incumbent Lo Walker, the strong ally of Montgomery and Williams often backed by Darby, to win executive control of the city.

Since then, whenever an opportunity has presented itself, those three have taken the lead in obstructing Chandler’s agenda, principally in rejecting his choice of Shane Cheatham as the city’s chief administrative officer, a post that remains unfilled. Joining them has been newcomer and Walker ally Republican Vince Maggio and Republican interim member Scott Irwin, another Walker ally who lost this spring to Cheatham but when Cheatham abjured taking the seat in anticipation of becoming CAO Irwin’s council buddies placed him back in it until mid-October.

3.8.21

Bank on 5 GOP LA congressmen in 2022, beyond

In a couple of weeks the federal government will release 2020 census data, setting states on course for reapportionment. But if as a result you’re a Democrat that begins fantasizing of a Louisiana sending two Democrats rather than one to the U.S. House of Representatives, you might want to stop reading right here.

Because that’s as likely to happen as a child dying of the Wuhan coronavirus. Despite such infinitely small chances, some false cheer along these lines has started circulate. By way of example, one source from the academic left played around with 2019 data used to make population estimates to come up with a map that makes three substantial district-wide changes: it ejects the western-most and eastern-most parishes of Congressional District 5 and extends it south into Baton Rouge while wrapping westward into north and central Shreveport and central Bossier City with its pivot in south Monroe; CD 4 picks up most of those western parishes, what’s left of Shreveport and Bossier City, and northern Monroe and West Monroe; and most of CD 6 shifts into the former eastern-most parishes of CD 4.

This would produce a new CD 5 with a 54 percent black majority as well as have a knock-on effect of lowering the existing CD 2 to 53 percent. The theory then goes both would elect a black Democrat to Congress.

2.8.21

Edwards stuck on stupid with virtue signaling

Yes, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards is stuck on stupid. And add prone to hypocritical partisan virtue-signaling as well.

Monday, Edwards reimposed a statewide indoor face covering mandate. He gave the reason as Wuhan coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations climbing to levels rivalling the highest of the pandemic, back at the beginning of the year.

This he did despite the science saying that mask mandates don’t do much to cut down on the infection rate. This occurs through a combination of inherent masking problems, people ignoring these, not enforcing these, and individuals not using masks properly.

1.8.21

Edwards musn't follow stuck on stupid Cantrell

Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell remains stuck on stupid. Let’s hope Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards doesn’t join her.

Late last week, Cantrell, facing a reelection attempt this fall, issued an indoor face covering mandate as well as a requirement that city employees and contractor have been vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus. This she did, she said, because of increasing case numbers and hospitalizations due in part to the newer, more transmissible delta strain of the virus.

Edwards has said he might follow suit. As of the end of the week, both the number of new cases and hospitalizations were not far from their peaks in January. This differs from what has occurred in most of the rest of the country, and appears to vary with vaccination rates; cases and hospitalizations are considerably lower in places with significantly higher such rates. Another factor hitting Louisiana harder could be its ranking as the least healthy state in the country; under age 70 almost nobody dies from the virus unless they have some kind of co-morbidity.

29.7.21

Cassidy compounds mistake with spending bill

Thus begins Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy’s Build Back Better campaign to reestablish trust with a majority of Louisiana voters – with a swing and a miss.

Just over a month after starting his second term, Cassidy angered a large swath of state residents when he voted to convict GOP former Pres. Donald Trump on specious, if not entirely bogus, alleged misdeeds. Those decisions displayed exceptionally poor judgment and utter lack of principle that, if anything, have aged more and more poorly as more comes out about unrest at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

However, he has six years to repair the damage, and he attempted a first step by approving, along with 16 other Republicans, yet another spending bill on top of those late in the Trump Administration and early in the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration. The vote technically only advances the bill for debate, but Cassidy signaled he clearly favors the bill in its present form, which could see significant changes.

28.7.21

Fix flawed LA schools standards revision

Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley acted wisely to hit pause on its social studies standards review, considering the problematic direction in which it has headed.

By August, the committee conducting this – required periodically by law and behind schedule – had hoped to disseminate standards for public comment. Brumley delayed that until October, acknowledging escalating complaints about the working product.

The current decade-old standards have drawn criticism for a table of organization that produces some gaps and overlaps with cohesiveness problems, which the latest publicly-available draft addresses. Unfortunately, the process let wokeness worm its way in.

27.7.21

Campbell climate change screed all hot air

No doubt one reason for the Earth’s warming of a couple of degrees in temperature over the past several decades is the hot air coming from north Louisiana’s Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.

Recently, Campbell shopped around an opinion piece into which a couple of online news outlets bit. And it goes off the rails right from the start: “The punishing heat wave in the western United States and heavy flooding in the Northeast from Tropical Storm Elsa provide more evidence that the world’s climate is changing” – yet the data show neither heat waves nor extreme weather events increasing in frequency for the last several decades, so how could these become evidence of climate change?

It goes downhill from there. Finding inspiration from the discredited disseminations of Democrat former Vice Pres. Al Gore, Campbell marries fact-impaired faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming with conspiracy theories he has advanced in half a century of elected office: Big Oil standing in the way of the state’s economic and environmental security, preventing a tax swap that would grow government and benefit him personally while driving away fossil fuel business (mimicking the impact of other tax increases on the industry that invalidates Campbell’s thesis that such predatory behavior won’t cause the industry to reduce its state footprint), and decrying the reduction of the privileging received by the renewable energy sector in the state – even as recently the LPSC stupidly acted to reward a major power producer for ramping up expensive renewable energy production against its own staff’s advice and the state of Texas’.

26.7.21

People power making for better LA virus policy

Applying political power directly didn’t work. But the soft power of an informed public has succeeded to date where other efforts failed to produce reasonable and helpful public health emergency policy around Louisiana.

The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, fueled by a new variant, has ticked upwards across the globe after a few months of simmering. In Louisiana, daily cases have reached their highest levels in six months and hospitalizations and deaths the highest in four months.

But governments from the local level all the way up to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards have not proclaimed the reinstallation of a plethora of mandatory nonpharmaceutical interventions that existed those months ago. Undoubtedly, some they wish they could, for it would help their political agendas by empowering government (Edwards and almost all of the state’s largest city mayors are Democrats) while giving the appearance that they are doing something positive about the situation.

25.7.21

LA GOP needs to leverage loss into victory

If nothing else, the recent inert veto session, but which nearly overturned a Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards veto, set the stage for inexperienced legislative Republicans not just to govern, but to govern with impunity. But as with everything in life, for that to happen all depends on the execution.

With the state’s history of gubernatorial meddling in legislative affairs (keeping in mind that this largely is self-inflicted; in a strict accounting of formal powers the Louisiana governor’s are not remarkable, but traditionally the Legislature has allowed him to flex informal powers that magnify these), as well as having been a minority party for about a century-and-a-half until the last decade that atrophied their ability to lead, the majority Republicans may be excused for not getting it together. Additionally hampering them, the state’s blanket primary system creates more challenges for coalescing around a conservative agenda, as it enables election of those to the majority who dissent to some degree with that.

However, if allowed to flourish, the dynamics that produced the veto session can translate into unimpeachable conservative agenda success, as witnessed in all the states that surround Louisiana. Two separate immediate tasks are involved here: creating a legislative party with increased loyalty to a conservative agenda by having voters shed unreliable members, and increasing the number in that party with that presumed loyalty, in time for 2023 elections.

21.7.21

Democrats win today, set up for loss tomorrow

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards won the battle, and progress in Louisiana lost. But the victory for state Democrats looms Pyrrhic.

In the historic veto override session, Republicans were unable to override Edwards’ veto of SB 156. The commonsense bill prevents biological males, who have a genetic physical advantage over females, from competing in female-only sports at the scholastic and collegiate level that would discriminate against female competitors.

The Senate approved an override on a party-line vote, which hit right at the two-thirds threshold because Republican state Sen. Ronnie Johns took a dive. But defections and no-shows from Republicans state Sens. Louie Bernard, Patrick Connick, Fred Mills, and Rick Ward doomed other attempts as Democrats held firm.

Politics over principle marks LA Senate votes

Louisiana Senate Democrats would rather inject divisive partisan politics than stand by superior legislation they once supported, all for reasons of politics rather than principle – joined by a few Republicans-in-Name-Only that in a couple of cases leads one to wonder what inducements Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards offered them to change their votes.

That lesson came through the Senate’s consideration of bills vetoed by Edwards, after taking up five vetoed bills. Eleven Democrats voted both on Senate final passage and on override consideration, while newcomer Democrat state Sen. Gary Carter had voted on final passage in the House and was the only of the bunch to have voted against consistently.

In order, starting with SB 156 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell, the most discussed of the vetoes and the only one gaining a successful override vote, four Democrats flipped to oppose the override: Regina Barrow, Katrina Jackson, Gary Smith, and Greg Tarver. Not a single one took to the floor to explain what had changed in less than a month-and-a-half to make them switch from support to opposition. All Republicans held the line on the bill that would prevent discrimination against females in scholastic and collegiate sports on the basis of sex.

20.7.21

Legislature must follow through with overrides

Louisiana’s legislative Republican majority, with help from transient other party allies, need to finish the job during this week’s veto session.

It’s not enough to have triggered a historic veto override session that sets the stage for overturning egregious vetoes by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Letting him off the hook without reversing anything only will embolden him to keep denying good legislation the kind of which many other states routinely pass. Two-thirds majorities in each chamber will do the trick.

The margins that produced the session provide a clue as to whether and how intensely the GOP can achieve its mission. In the House, 69 – all Republicans minus one plus a Democrat and no party member – voted against not having the session, one short of that majority. In the Senate, all 27 Republicans – one more than a supermajority – did so.

19.7.21

Veto session watershed in LA political culture

Louisiana’s political culture reached a milestone when the Legislature resoundingly rebuffed staying home from a veto override session.

Barely a third of legislators by the deadline last week turned in a ballot signifying they didn’t want one to occur, contrary to what has been the case since the implementation of the current 1974 Constitution. In the Senate, it followed party lines with all Democrats sending in one. In the House, the same happened except that Democrat state Rep. Francis Thompson didn’t and Republican Joe Stagni did. Of the three no party representatives, state Rep. Roy Daryl Adams didn’t while state Reps. Joe Marino and new former Democrat Malinda White did.

Putting down its foot on Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes makes two telling departures from the past. Firstly, until now a governor’s veto of bills passed late in a session have remained sacrosanct. With an asymmetry of power – the full weight of most of the executive branch compared to the relatively puny resources of the Legislature, especially in information, with thousand of full-time employees versus part-time legislators – governors almost always could maneuver things so that any potentially controversial veto could occur late enough so that only an override session could cancel it.

18.7.21

Special elections to test BC reform movement

As opposed to this spring’s regular election, a choice that could move Bossier City forward seems murkier for the city’s southern residents in this fall’s special election. Such a dilemma doesn’t exist for parish residents further north in the city.

Three candidates queued up to fill the vacancy in District 1: Democrat technology administrator Darren Ashley, Republican small businessman Brain Hammons, and independent consultant Michael “Lun” Lombardino. The election became necessary when spring winner Republican Shane Cheatham didn’t take the seat in anticipation of being named city chief administrative officer under Republican new Mayor Tommy Chandler.

Like Chandler, Cheatham had run under a reform banner that questioned city spending priorities and it lack of transparency in decision-making. They criticized then-incumbent Republican Mayor Lo Walker and the City Council, including Cheatham’s incumbent opponent Republican Scott Irwin, for keeping power-wielding among a close-knit group inside and outside of government.

15.7.21

No reason to reimpose harmful restrictions

Oh, no! Delta variant! Case counts going way up! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! One big Louisiana city already looks ready to hit the panic button, so should the state follow as after a subdued period the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic starts to boil higher again?

Absolutely not. By no means should the state or its subgovernments begin to reimpose restrictions that weren’t that effective anyway and probably cost more lives than they saved.

Predictably, case surges have started in areas with lower rates of vaccination. In fact, a high cluster of these exists in the center of the country running north-south from Missouri through Arkansas and swelling into Louisiana. This comes largely courtesy of the rising virus delta variant now becoming more prominent, which does appear more transmissible and does a bit better job of defeating vaccines.

14.7.21

Diluted UBI about to hit reeling LA hard

Louisiana’s problems will multiply as for the next 12 months the nation takes one step closer to a universal basic income.

This week, households with children can start receiving child tax credit monies courtesy of legislation rammed through Congress by its slender majority of Democrats and signed by their own Pres. Joe Biden. It provides $3,000-$3,600 in free (read: from increased taxes or debt) money to upper middle-class and below households per child, depending on age, with monthly installments available for half through the end of the year. Those invested in the idea, such as Louisiana’s Democrat Rep. Troy Carter, already shill it as great policy.

Far from it, and not because it's not a perfect universal basic income, or the idea that every citizen should receive a periodic government cash grant without strings attached. It tapers beginning at about six figures and disappears at a quarter million dollars in income, it only lasts a year with an option to receive the first half of payments in six monthly installments, and obviously the family must have a dependent child younger than 18.

13.7.21

Edwin Washington Edwards, 1927-2021

Two years ago, Louisiana had five ex-governors out and about; today, just one. The one of the quartet who stayed with us the longest, Prisoner #03128-095, went out in a way not inconsistently with his political career: with a wink and a nod. Last week, he entered hospice care, with him and his family saying it was for better care and that he looked forward to future birthdays. Days later ….

Known outside the big house as Democrat former Gov. Edwin Edwards, it’s perhaps difficult for many who follow Louisiana politics to understand the shadow he cast over state politics for a quarter-century starting in 1972. Obviously the center of attention when in office, he wasn’t too far away from that even when out of it during the 1980-84 and 1987-92 periods (he actually vacated the office after conceding defeat a couple of months prior to the official end of his third term in 1988). He probably really liked it that way.

I met Edwards the first time, briefly, when he attended the dedication of my employer’s new library in 1992. But where I actually had a few minutes to chat with him, the chastened version after prison, was almost a decade ago at the Louisiana Political Science Association annual meeting. From that second meeting I draw some of the impressions below.

12.7.21

Politics, not data, behind top cop veto wish

You might think Republican Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre, after nearly three decades in office, would have learned it is an asset in politics to know what you are talking about before you open your mouth. Only in office less than a decade, Republican Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington showed him how it’s done.

Last week, in an assemblage of a few dozen law enforcement officials that included a dozen of the state’s 64 sheriffs, Webre emerged as the most outspoken critic of efforts to overturn Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of SB 118 by Republican state Sen. Jay Morris. The bill would remove permit requirements to carry a concealed firearm for most citizens, which currently include a fee, paperwork, and mandatory training classes.

At the made-for-media, if not Astroturf, news conference, Webre expressed several sentiments. “I don’t want to be at a Mardi Gras parade with my daughter where someone jumps up to catch a bead and that gun falls out their waistband it hits the concrete, goes off and innocent people get killed …. I don’t want to go into a department store or restaurant and wonder who might be carrying a concealed weapon.” He further alleged that the bill “not only is going to endanger the law enforcement community, it will endanger the general public as well.” And, he claimed it could embolden untrained people to act like citizen vigilantes, unnecessarily escalating minor incidents into deadly ones.

11.7.21

Keep Shreveport ban to empower vulnerable

Shreveport’s City Council this week faces a choice between possibly more tax dollars from more economic activity and limiting the autonomy of vulnerable citizens.

Councilors will consider passing an amended ordinance that carves out an exemption from its commercial smoking ban for establishments that have gambling. An entire ban for indoor areas except for businesses specifically catering to smoking would have gone into effect last Aug. 1 but was delayed to this Aug. 1 because of the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Now some want to dilute the prohibition by excluding gaming areas of casinos and bars and truck stops licensed for gambling.

As has become typical as jurisdiction after jurisdiction in Louisiana where such battles play out with casinos involved – and all resulting in restricting of smoking – opponents argue casinos will take a hit with this. Smoking, like gambling, is addictive behavior, so eliminating the practice of one vice by discouraging practitioners of another disproportionately eats into casinos’ potential clientele.

8.7.21

Don't forget these bills in override session

Perhaps overshadowed by the spotlights on other bills, several less-publicized ones deserve veto overrides that the Louisiana Legislature seems poised to cue up later this month.

The driving force behind a historic such session comes from legislator distaste at Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwardsvetoes of SB 156, which prevents discrimination by sex in scholastic and collegiate sports, and SB 118, which removes requirements for carrying concealed firearms found unnecessary in almost half the states. As well, his vetoes of several other measures that would shore up weaknesses in the state’s electoral system integrity have drawn legislators’ ire.

However, other vetoed bills also merit attention, beginning with a few that address vaccinations for the Wuhan coronavirus. Already noted is the necessity of HB 498 by Republican state Rep. Kathy Edmonston that prevents government-mandated vaccinations to gain citizens to access ordinary services until such vaccinations receive formal and final Food and Drug Administration approval. Given the vaccines now are known to cause certain rare maladies particularly in youths, such a mandate would cause a terrible choice between enduring legalized discrimination preventing reception of government services or risking state-sanctioned murder as in the case of abortion.

7.7.21

Council clowns' tantrum makes BC look unserious

Describing the antics of the Bossier City Council might draw such words as “amateur hour”, “clown show”, and “laughingstock” – except it’s no laughing matter when its elected officials provide such a stark reminder to the world that by their behavior they oversee America’s biggest small town.

If the majority cabal at present running council affairs wanted to impress upon observers just how unprofessional, inept, and petty Bossier City government is, they couldn’t have done better with the circus of a meeting they put on earlier this week. After witnessing what happened, any business wanting to set up shop in northwest Louisiana would cross the city off its list, correctly deducing that its parochial, secretive and dysfunctional government would create a toxic business environment held hostage by a few egotists and not worth the trouble to invest in.

The gory details are here, and a special meeting later this week would appear at least to iron out the appointment by Republican and new Mayor Tommy Chandler of 26th Judicial District Judge Charles Jacobs as city attorney and therefore 26th District assistant district attorney Richard Ray as assistant. But that doesn’t erase how handling this became a manufactured controversy ending with a self-inflicted wound.

6.7.21

Edwards bill massacre signals go big or home

The Thursday night massacre of 2021 Louisiana Legislature regular session bills shows Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards want to go big or go home.

Last week, on the final day of this decision-making, Edwards vetoed a slew of bills concerning hot-button issues. In essence, by doing so including some issued earlier this year he authorized less transparency in government, insufficient checks on gubernatorial emergency powers, coerced government diversion of part of paychecks to special interests, elections less secure from fraud and special interest interference, potential forcible injections of vaccines labeled by the federal government as carrying elevated risks for youths, an invitation to waste taxpayer dollars on invalid public records searches, encouragement of state bond underwriters to engage in discriminatory lending practices, needless requirements to carry a concealed firearm, and discrimination against female youths in athletic pursuits.

Never had a governor vetoed so many high-profile non-fiscal bills, because never has a governor faced as rebellious of a Legislature. Until a quarter-century ago, economic liberal populists with socially conservative tendencies, almost all Democrats, ruled the legislative roost with views sympathetic mostly with those of governors. A vast influx of full-spectrum conservatives has infiltrated the Legislature since, while Edwards mirrors the old-school liberal populists of the past but with more socially-liberal views than almost all of his predecessors.

5.7.21

Another LA Democrat strategically drops label

Cosmetic and political more than significant describe no party state Rep. Malinda White’s dropping of her Democrat label.

Last week, White announced she would leave the party. She claimed frustration with a partisan atmosphere at the Capitol and asserted her constituents felt more like she should speak for issues and ideas. Former state party executive director Stephen Handwerk speculated intraparty friction might have soured her, which he conjectured came from the increasingly far left tilt of the organization’s leadership (that mimics the trend seen at the national level). Of course, Handwerk himself appears to have been a casualty of this when he exited his former role as a new central committee gained election with extreme leftists and/or blacks becoming more prominent a portion in the party’s base and leadership, so he may be imprinting this experience onto his interpretation.

Reviewing this legislative session her votes on 16 pieces of key legislation – all vetoed by the state’s most prominent Democrat whose behavior increasing aligns with this violent movement to the left, Gov. John Bel Edwards – White voted for six, opposed five, and didn’t vote on five. As an absence essentially counts as a negative vote, insofar as Republicans and conservatives were concerned, she only voted the right way 37.5 percent of the time on these controversial non-fiscal issues.

4.7.21

Independence Day, 2021

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

With Sunday, Jul. 4 being Independence Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.

1.7.21

Override session chance signals culture shift

Memo to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards: repeating bogus talking points doesn’t make them any less invalid. Especially when, finally, a critical mass of Louisianans finally has begun to free their minds to negate an age-old strategy relying on legacy media, allowing sufficiently widespread exposure of the paucity of his arguments.

Perhaps grudgingly, Republican Senate Pres. Page Cortez has admitted senators will support an unprecedented veto override session. GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, already under fire for his mishandling of legislation popular with his party, has lead cheers with his members for such a thing.

Up until Jul. 15 lawmakers may send to their respective chamber secretaries a ballot indicating they don’t want to conduct such a session just over a week later that could last a few days. However, if at least half don’t send one in for each chamber, the session automatically occurs.

30.6.21

Empire may strike back in BC, cause chaos

Somebody thinks the Empire will strike back in Bossier City, and they’re willing to dump some money on trying to shame its elements into forestalling a scenario that could devolve into four years of chaos.

This week, a text messaging poll has circulated to city residents. After a hook question about the popularity of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards (who is beginning to face questions about his role in what increasing appears to be a coverup of the death of a motorist at the hands of the Louisiana State Police), the poll asks about the popularity of Republican Mayor-elect Tommy Chandler and whether respondents think the City Council shouldn’t block his appointment of Shane Cheatham as chief administrative officer.

The GOP’s Cheatham defeated outgoing Republican District 1 Councilor Scott Irwin this spring, but then resigned before taking the seat next week as Chandler’s pick for CAO. Things turned out better for other consistent allies of defeated incumbent Mayor Lo Walker – Republicans Jeff Free and David Montgomery plus Democrat Bubba Williams – as they returned to the Council, joined by newcomer Republican Vince Maggio, who shared supporters with Walker.

29.6.21

Sign bill to protect people's choices, safety

Even if it runs against type, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards must sign HB 498 by Republican state Rep. Kathy Edmonston to prevent potential state government-mandated infliction of needless suffering.

That bill makes it illegal for the state to impose Wuhan coronavirus vaccinations onto people to allow their access to the state’s ordinary services, except for health care, until the Federal Drug Administration gives a permanent clearance to such vaccinations. This particularly makes an exception for schools, because Louisiana explicitly allows education at all levels to require certain vaccinations for enrollment.

Yet a de facto campaign continues by Edwards and his appointees to have students receive vaccinations. Exhortations, if not outright propaganda, and gamesmanship come from the Governor’s Office and state agencies for school-age individuals to receive it. The Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors – whose previous prominent action gave the system a woke presidentasked the state to make it a requirement for attendance.

28.6.21

Tax change amendment merits voter approval

Later this year Louisianans should vote in favor of a constitutional amendment not because it does very much, but because what little it does makes possible much more substantial and beneficial changes for the future.

SB 159 by Republican state Sen. Bret Allain would amend the Constitution to allow lawmakers to not permit a deduction of federal taxes paid for state income taxes and locks in a maximum state individual income tax rate of 4.75 percent. Currently, these rates in law crest 6 percent.

Three other bills, signed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, implement the ramifications of this change, which if passed goes into effect for 2022. One pares the existing three-tiered individual/fiduciary rates from 2 to 1.85, 4 to 3.5, and 6 to 4.25 percent, with the potential after 2023 for further reductions as state revenues elevate. Another reshapes corporate income rates from five to three brackets, expands the lower brackets, and lower rates to 3.5, 5.5, and 7.5 percent. The final of them keeps corporate franchise taxes – an additional tax on a firm’s capital – suspended for two more years for smaller businesses and generally reduces such rates for all businesses over time. Except for this one, for the other pair federal income taxes paid no longer becomes deductible.

27.6.21

New giveaway throws away more education bucks

Take the worst of the Louisiana’s Taylor Opportunity Program for Students entitlement program, amplify it, and you get the new MJ Foster Promise Program.

Last week, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law the bill that would provide up to $10.5 million a year for approximately 3,281 students to attempt completion of associate degrees and certificates. It largely mimics TOPS, which applies to bachelor degrees, and is named after Republican former Gov. Mike Foster, who died earlier this year and instigated the state’s system of community colleges and technical schools.

TOPS has become infamous as an entitlement masquerading as a “scholarship” program. For students that qualify, which all that means is taking a useful set of core courses, compiling decent grades, and earning mediocre standardized test scores, the state pays all tuition but not fees for pursuit of any bachelor degree as long as the student performs at an average level at first then keeps grades high enough to stay off probation while earning a minimum of 24 credits a year for four years.

24.6.21

Shreveport's waste follies retarding growth

Just when you think Shreveport can commit more stupidity in its waste disposal policies, its politicians raise the ante to the detriment of its economic development.

This week, its City Council took the first step towards hiring a new contractor for its troubled curbside recycling program. From its start over a decade ago, the effort that supposedly would save the city a little coin and make a significant impact in reducing landfill use hardly did either, while charging compulsorily every household $2.50 a month whether each sorted garbage accordingly. The city also ponied up roughly $3 million for collection bins, which only last a few years so it continues to pay out this.

Fate intervened to put a stop to this nonsense at least temporarily last fall. The longtime handler – who once had said it could make the city some money off the items only to abandon the idea – got out of the business and the city halted the program and the extra fee. It then sought a new processor, which took a couple of tries and nine months to find someone to collect and deal with recyclables. Fortunately, the city had the good sense to suspend fee collection throughout this period.

23.6.21

Some conservatives reap what sowed with veto

Awhile back, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards gradually loosened, then finally and belatedly dropped, requirements that individuals had to have a mask over nose and mouth (even if he hypocritically applied it in his own life). This week, completing a process begun months ago, he formally took off the mask he had used to fool gullible conservatives.

He had worn through his first term a mask of social conservatism, even though he did little other than make a symbolic gesture here and there by signing the few bills that reached him addressing these issues, mostly dealing with measures that had an impact of restricting abortion on demand, because of overwhelming legislative support. Never mind that as a candidate prior to his gubernatorial run he made statements favoring and as a state legislator votes approving of facilitating abortion, and who knows how many socially-conservative bills never made it out of the Legislature because he signaled he wouldn’t back them.

That pretense now has vanished completely, confirmed with his veto of SB 156 by Republican state Sen. Beth Mizell, which passed both legislative chambers with heavy majorities. It would have disallowed biological males from competing in intercollegiate, interscholastic, and intramural sports in sports designated for females. In essence, unless a biologically-born male has had the obligatory surgery and took the necessary drugs to be classified as a biological female, the bill would prohibit that person from competing as a female. This backs a threat he made earlier this year.

22.6.21

Avoid distractions, keep tort reform on course

Policy-makers need to keep their eyes on the ball and not let themselves become distracted by cheap political stunts that distort rather than inform.

That lesson comes from recent political theater staged by the secretive Real Reform Louisiana interest group. Its four dozen employees and $9 million in revenues hail courtesy of donors the group refuses to reveal, but whom likely overwhelmingly are trial lawyers who profit from a legal environment that is one of the most encouraging for lawsuits in the country.

It recently left tiki torches at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, explaining that this would equip LABI’s executive director Stephen Waguespack to go march on the Capitol. Last year, Waguespack said he would do that with such instruments in hand if passenger car rates didn’t drop in a year as a result of the Civil Justice Reform Act. That bill changed state tort laws to mirror more closely, although not that closely, such laws in other states, many whose residents pay far lower rates.

21.6.21

LA govts must clip wings of privileged solar

If it were a level playing field, perhaps Louisiana wouldn’t have to act. But with federal law tilting the scales in favor of solar energy production, the state and/or its agents of local government must take measures to erase this bias.

As production costs come down, solar energy farms have sprouted in Louisiana, without any regulation. This has caused some concern that this will distort land use patterns, particularly in sapping potential farm land. Legislators have responded by mandating the state derive regulations over solar placements.

Normally, this market shouldn’t need such government interference, although this new law doesn’t commit the state to anything but the lightest regulation. Unfortunately, federal law vastly privileges hanging up solar panels in commercial settings through a vast and costly array of subsidies. This creates oversupply, ironically enough, of production of something (at least the onshore version) now admitted to have become price competitive with other forms, including dispatchable ones, without government using tax dollars to prop it up. (And, in fact, much of the subsidies go to foreign entities.)

20.6.21

New LA holiday wastes more taxpayer dollars

If Louisiana doesn’t appear as idiotic this time as it typically does in its policy-making, it’s only because the rest of the country joined in.

Barely beating a deadline inherent to the bill’s subject matter, last week Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB 554 by Democrat state Rep. Larry Selders. This makes the third Saturday in June a legal state holiday, in honor of “Juneteenth.”

Those who didn’t grow up in Texas, and especially not close to Galveston, mayn’t know that on Jun. 19, 1865, the U.S. Army arrived there and, with the state essentially now entirely under military occupation (the Civil War’s last battle occurred about a month earlier in south Texas, and Shreveport was headquarters of the last organized ground forces of the Confederacy, surrendering under the Appomattox terms almost two months later than when the terms were accepted back east) and with the state technically not in rebellion, the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation needed reenactment.

Juneteenth, a local holiday for over a century, went statewide just as I headed out for college. That treatment is entirely appropriate, for it was a significant event in the state’s history – but nowhere else. However, over the years, its use as an instrument of virtue signaling picked up and other states, with no connection at all to the event, began commemorating it. In fact, Louisiana was rather late to the party, even though few states made it a paid holiday (although the state has had the authority to commemorate the third Saturday as Juneteenth for nearly two decades).

And now preempted, for the virtue signaling finally swamped the federal government. A large House of Representatives majority and unanimous Senate just about beat Louisiana to the punch to make it a federal holiday. Thus, more taxpayer dollars will go to waste with most of the federal workforce taking another day off to the tune of around $600 million lost to egregious symbolism.

No Louisiana member of Congress had to good sense to vote against it, although Republican Rep. Clay Higgins added a caveat to his affirmative ballot. With its official name “Juneteenth National Independence Day,” Higgins complained, “Why would the Democrats want to politicize this by co-opting the name of our sacred holiday of Independence Day?” in arguing they should have instead used the word “emancipation.”

Note as well that the federal version gives the day special importance above most other holidays. Most are designated as a specific day of the week, not a date. Until now, only New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, and Christmas have it occur on a specific date (although as well Thanksgiving Day always occurs on a Thursday). Juneteenth incredibly now joins that pantheon, and thus becomes part of the observational rule that if it occurs not during the work week, either Friday or Monday becomes the holiday.

Because of legal niceties, Edwards only could declare a half-holiday for last Friday, but next year it’s another paid entire day off for state employees, except potentially in higher education which are limited to 14 such days off a year. Otherwise, the cost of letting off around 40,000 employees averaging around $48,500 (classified) and $69,500 (unclassified) annually of $8.2 million in taxpayer bucks going down the drain would be higher.

If they had to do it, why not remove the secular New Year’s Day designation and convert Jan. 1 into a day celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued that day in 1863 and has relevance to the state that Juneteenth doesn’t? Instead, it’s just more government waste, courtesy of Edwards and every single Louisiana legislator who voted on the bill.

17.6.21

LA must resist wasting bonus for water systems

Even though Louisiana doesn’t have a great history in these situations, odds of success can improve if lawmakers put the people’s interests ahead of politics.

Because of a tremendous debt-laden federal government gift, well beyond any genuine necessity, the state will receive $3 billion from national taxpayers (which, of course, includes Louisianans). In essence, this gives the state one shot at fixing some longstanding infrastructure woes.

While not all of the mortgaging of future generations’ prospects went to best uses, one provision in HB 642 passed this session (and awaiting gubernatorial approval) did address a pressing need: putting water systems on a solid operational footing. The Louisiana Legislative Auditor has noted dozens of instances where smaller water providers owned by government have reached a point where it has become prohibitively expensive for them to maintain and operate a workable system.

16.6.21

Appointment illustrates opaque Bossier Jury

How the Bossier Parish Police Jury handled its recent vacancy illuminates why it has remained the most opaque of major northwest Louisiana governments.

You don’t get much transparency or sunshine from parish government, compared to Shreveport, Bossier City, the parishes’ school districts, or Caddo Parish. Besides live cable television coverage of some of these, all have high-quality Internet video delivered live and on demand of past meetings.

Further, all provide citizens with online information about agenda items typically a few days in advance of a meeting. This gives the public a chance to review upcoming matters and facilitates its members participation in the legally-mandated comment periods during governing bodies’ open meetings.

15.6.21

Cortez, Schexnayder fail leadership tests

The 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature closed with confirmation of the utter failure of leadership of its Republican majorities, at the hands of House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate Pres. Page Cortez.

All around them in neighboring southern states, enlightened bill after enlightened bill made it into law. Matters such as net income tax cuts, concealed carry of firearms without permit, protection of children from genital mutilation or harmful drugs, ensuring fair play for female scholastic and college athletes, preventing the teaching of neo-racism in schools and in government seminars, making election administration less amenable to outside influences, and budgeting that didn’t kick cans down the road all will become law in these places.

Likely none of this will happen in Louisiana. These others states did benefit from having Republican governors, although occasionally legislators had to override a misguided veto here and there. By contrast, Louisiana is saddled with Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards – but like these other states have, on these issues working majorities of Republicans and a few Democrats or no party legislators here and there differing from issue to issue that could override a veto.

14.6.21

GOP shoots own goal with bad UI benefits swap

Louisiana conservatives must scratch their heads and wonder what is wrong with Republican legislators when mainly their votes send to the governor a bill like HB 183 by Democrat state Rep. Chad Brown.

The bill started out innocuously as giving claimants the ability not to have taxes withheld from emergency unemployment benefits, such as the extra $300 a week the federal government doles out through Sep. 6 on a state’s request. Half the states have signaled an intention not to participate in this through to that date.

Louisiana isn’t one of them, as surveys show the bonus payments discourage a portion of the unemployed from seeking work (despite that most states, including Louisiana, require that recipients seek jobs and take one if offered, but this requirement easily is gamed by recipients, for example, by inquiring repeatedly about jobs which they know for various reasons they will not be offered). Despite every southern state with a Republican governor having opted out, Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has joined with the region’s other two Democrat chief executives in letting this form of universal basic income continue.

13.6.21

Democrats gamble on long shot map redraw hope

Louisiana House Democrats, in particular the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus members of that chamber, seem willing to look a gift horse in the mouth apparently longing for a bigger, if unlikely, payoff in the future.

SB 163 by Republican state Sen. Patrick McMath would have added two state Supreme Court seats, bringing the total to nine. While this constitutional amendment, which would have taken effect in 2025 with voter approval in 2022, doesn’t set out the actual districting, its standard that districts be roughly equiproportional would mean the creation of two majority-minority districts, where just one exists at present.

Democrats, particularly blacks of the party, have carped about just the one, and this bill would have delivered a likely two of nine. Better still, Republicans magnanimously offered it up, despite the fact that no constitutional jurisprudence would force the state to draw districts in this fashion.

10.6.21

GOP leadership failure risks popular bills

What could have turned out to be a session-defining game of chicken fell flat, due to poor legislative leadership more interested in avoiding conflict than in promoting the goals of the Republican majority, reflecting voters’ wishes.

A number of important bills muscled their way through the two chambers despite the lukewarm support given, if not outright hostility displayed to them, by GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Sen. Pres. Page Cortez. Although leaders have discretion in the fate of bills, such as in point of order rulings, committee assignments of members and (in the case of some bills) bill disposition, and in timing when to move legislation, when an overwhelming portion of the majority party membership wants something to pass, they can’t stop it.

But if they concede to do the bidding of the governor, they can find a way to sabotage such bills from becoming law. The surest way uses methods to slow down bill passage just enough so that a bill doesn’t go to the governor for signature or veto within 15 days prior to the end of the session. This is because bills passed in identical form have three days for transmission to the governor, ten days for gubernatorial decision (failing to veto within that span makes the bill law), and if vetoed two days for transmission back to the chamber.

9.6.21

Deal good, if LA lawmakers keep their resolve

The deal struck in the Louisiana Legislature to advance roads construction works well on many levels – if lawmakers resist falling into a trap.

State senators whipsawed again HB 514 by Republican state Rep. Tanner Magee. It now steers starting in fiscal year 2023 a quarter, then for FY 2024 half, and finally for FY 2025 and beyond three-quarters of the estimated $500 million a year in vehicle sales taxation away from the general fund and towards transportation infrastructure. Something close to its present form should emerge from conference before the end of the session.

The instrument hardly resembles it original posture, which would have taxed medical marijuana and sent a portion of that to roads. In the interim, it became a vehicle for extending one temporary sales tax and making another permanent, dedicating much of that to roads.

8.6.21

Edwards idleness bonus tactic masks agenda

Who does Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards think he’s kidding?

Under pressure from state employer interest groups and Republican elected officials, Edwards has resisted terminating early extra $300 weekly payments from the federal government, due to expire Sep. 6. Research continues to build showing that the presence of this bonus, which in many states can hike the weekly stipend by more than double, plays a significant role in discouraging work which then constrains business operations, leaving employers a choice of whether to go out of business because wage demands become distorted higher or cutting back on service hours.

But the data demonstrating this largely are anecdotal and survey-based because of the short interval since the bonus went into effect and that only next week do the first of the half of all states ending it early start to implement this. Only one study, tangentially related – and not particularly applicable to the current policy question because it reviewed data about the previous $600 level and modeled the impact on middle-class wages – has addressed the issue, which showed that roughly one of seven people who refused work did so because of the bonus.

7.6.21

LA should resist changing school grade formula

Louisiana should tread carefully, if at all, down a path of deemphasizing actual knowledge and thinking ability imparted by its public schools when assessing their performances.

Next week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will debate whether to change the calculation of school performance scores, which provide a method for comparison and assessment that could affect whether schools continue to operate as well as a way for families to evaluate them. The formula varies for the level of schooling involved:

  • Kindergarten through Grade 3 – 75 percent from aggregate student statewide assessments, 25 percent from student progress from testing prior to the school year
  • Grades 4 through 8 – 70 percent from assessments, 25 percent from progress, and 5 percent from how many course credits the past year’s eighth graders earned in Grade 9
  • Grades 9 through 12 – 25 percent from assessments (although a sixth of this actually come from language and math progress), 25 percent from standardized higher education testing or its equivalent, 25 percent from the rolling four-year graduation rate, and 25 percent from how past students have fared in accumulating college credit or certifications (a measure of the quality of the secondary education)

6.6.21

New conservative caucus proving merit already

The new Louisiana Conservative Caucus doesn’t promise the world, so it needs to pass its first test.

This new House of Representatives group of Republicans formed last month pledging fiscal conservatism, pursuing pro-life advocacy, and backing Second Amendment protections, and only adds new members after invitation. It largely mirrors the House GOP segment that in early 2020 voted for Republican state Rep. Sherman Mack to become Speaker, with 38 of its 41 confirmed members having supported Mack (two others won special elections to the chamber afterwards). The one exception who backed GOP Speaker Clay Schexnayder – as did all 35 Democrats, both no party members, and 21 other Republicans (one other noninvited Republican recently won a special election) – GOP state Rep. Ray Garofalo – Schexnayder recently dumped as a committee chairman because Garofalo insisted on pursuing legislation that would forbid neo-racist ideas from propagation through the public schools and in state higher education.

Importantly, the LCC didn’t form, as has been implied, over Schexnayder selling out Garofalo after Democrats complained about the bill and the reaction to it. So far, it has limited its public intervention to one issue – a statement saying its members would vote against an attempt in HB 514 by GOP state Rep. Tanner Magee to maintain the 2016/2018 sales tax hike of 0.45 percent past 2025. Besides not intervening on behalf of Garofalo’s bill, it hasn’t gotten involved in controversy over bills forwarded by its member Republican state Rep. Valarie Hodges that would mandate teaching in schools pivotal moments in American history and civic literacy that a Senate committee watered down last week.

2.6.21

Ganja gambit fails, hazy consequences remain

Call it the Ganja Gambit – a last-second desperation attempt to sway anti-tax Republican legislators to make permanent a 0.45 percent sales tax increase.

This week, Republican state Rep. Tanner Magee’s HB 391 won legislative approval and now heads to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards who has said he’ll sign it into law. It creates an extraordinarily relaxed process that allows members of the public to get their hands on over a hundred joints a week ostensibly for medical reasons so open-ended that in short order some doctor somewhere will “recommend” it for halitosis.

Don’t expect all the “patients” to sit tight on their stashes. Unused portions will filter out onto the street for those willing to pay more for less bureaucracy to get high. Watch over the coming years the state’s two producers, allied with two of its university systems, ramp up production to meet this demand (and they’ll get a piece of the increased action as well).

Loosen nearly all LA campaign finance limits

Let’s hope a quarter-measure to make election financing honest, transparent, and more reflective of a commitment to free speech marks the first step to finishing a much larger task.

SB 4 by Democrat state Sen. Ed Price would remove limits to the amount of money a candidate may receive from political action committees for state and local offices. Currently, statewide executive offices and committee for candidates running at the highest judicial levels can receive only $80,000, other state office candidates and a few local ones have a limit of $40,000, and all others can receive no more than $20,000. Unaffected are varying limits on how much a single PAC may give to a single candidate. The bill has passed the Legislature and awaits action by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Donation limits never have made sense, even if constitutionally permitted as a means to reflect honesty in elections and governance. These caps ultimately conflict with the First Amendment that recognizes donations to candidates reflect political speech. Given the incompatibility of trying to limit campaign dollars while allowing unlimited amounts expressing speech for or against candidates, an unwieldy system that obscures more than reveals and therefore may hide accountability governs campaign finance.

1.6.21

Spendthrift LA budget shortchanges public

What’s the point in delivering a line-item veto-proof operating budget when you give the governor pretty much everything he wants?

Last week, the Louisiana Legislature signed off on the state’s fiscal year 2022 budget. Fueled by federal government largesse that would drive up the country’s relative debt to levels even higher than seen in World War II, the package crests over $38 billion dollars, or an increase of nearly 50 percent since Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards took office.

Finishing well in advance of the Jun. 10 deadline, this means that if Edwards exercises his line-item veto power, the Legislature will have an opportunity to override any of these. Traditionally, the Legislature has passed the general appropriations bill so late in the session that a special, costly override session would have to take place to counter the governor, so governors use these vetoes as a threat to entice legislators to support their spending priorities and positions on other bills.

31.5.21

Memorial Day, 2021

This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.


With Monday, May 31 being Memorial Day, I invite you to explore this link.