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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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.