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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.


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.


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.


Edwards virus policy caused net loss of life

Finally, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards (mostly) set the state’s people free. The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic public health emergency continues, but with the only restrictions left being face coverings required in public transportation, health care, and corrections settings – which should have been the regime all along except for the initial stages of the pandemic.

But because it wasn’t – because Edwards’ restrictions went far beyond that for an extended period time, human dignity suffered a major affront in that overly-restrictive rules needlessly attenuated people’s liberties. Worse, data show his heavy-handed approach probably cost more lives than saved them.

This is demonstrable both theoretically and empirically. For the first part of 2020 – the national and international pandemics were declared in mid-March – scientists and policy-makers knew little about the virus and the epidemiology associated with it. Scary scenarios predicated on a much broader conceptualization of transmission possibility, rushing in to fill the vacuum of knowledge, perhaps justified stringent measures.