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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.