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Panel prepares to bat away leftist power play

As the Joint Governmental Affairs Committee of the Louisiana Legislature hits the road to start discussing reapportionment of the state’s congressional districts next year, one of its leaders thanked members of the state’s political left for playing as it started the process of posterizing them.

Earlier this week, a group of the usual suspects issued an open letter to the panel of members of the governance committee in each chamber, who are charged with deriving the state’s new map for discussion – and inevitable passage almost entirely unchanged – for the six districts. This occurred just before the committees began a tour of metropolitan areas across the state to gather public input on their task.

The note stumps for the drawing of two majority-minority districts, where one now exists, presenting several scenarios. Selectively drawing from reapportionment jurisprudence, it alleges the law “likely requires” that, given that 31.4 percent of the state’s population according to census data are ethnically alone black, two such districts must come into fruition, and issued a veiled threat of litigation if that doesn’t happen.


LA local govts should commit to bid competition

The next round of the great competitive bond issuance bidding debate overshadowed introduction of Bossier City’s 2022 budget, providing insight into the insider style of governance promoted by the City Council majority yet highlighting a path forward to save citizens money not just in that municipality but in any Louisiana local government.

Concerning a pair of introduced bonding items, in the previous meeting Republican Councilor Chris Smith had queried about competitive bidding for such professional services. Appearing to speak for the Council majority, GOP Councilor David Montgomery dismissed the idea, claiming that this was unneeded when a reliable provider was engaged.

Smith persisted at this meeting, when the items came up for final consideration. He noted the 2018 Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report that summarized the use of competitive bidding is considered a best practice in local government debt contracting, estimated it would save local governments money if universally adopted, and recommended adoption of this practice in debt financing. Instead of offering motions for competitive bidding on these items, he announced he would vote against them because they didn’t have such a provision that he thought might result in taxpayer savings.


LA surplus best used on flood, retirement debts

Don’t let Louisiana’s artificial economy fool you, nor misdirect on where surplus funds should go.

The Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration recently announced a budget surplus for the past fiscal year that came in around $850 million, minus certain dedications. Not that elected officials had much to do with that; unprecedented levels of borrowing by the Democrat-controlled federal government followed by flushing that cash to state and local governments and directly to citizens created a huge monetary injection into the economy, with states and their local governments the beneficiary of $500 billion of that directly with more coming from government raking taxes from people spending their granted borrowed funds.

Nor did Louisiana distinguish itself among its peers. While spooling out surpluses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, many states did much better on a per capita basis, largely as a consequence of lackluster discipline among Louisiana policy-makers by the Republican-controlled Legislature too easily acquiescing to the big government vision of Edwards. Things would have been worse except for the series of strictures the Constitution lays down for use of surplus dollars.


Edwards blows taxpayer bucks on hydrogen hype

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards has sold Louisiana a pig in a poke that could cost taxpayers dozens of millions of dollars for no valid economic or environmental reason.

Last week, Edwards crowed about a decision by industrial gas manufacturer Air Products and Chemicals to take state money in exchange for siting a “blue” hydrogen plant and carbon sequestration facility. The state bribe to set down the anticipated $4.5 billion facility comes in the form of $5 million to offset construction, $1 million annually in payroll costs up to a decade, and tens of millions more in tax rebates on capital expenditures or on total expenses. Local governments in Ascension Parish will forgo a similar amount in property taxes over a decade.

Edwards raved about the reputed environmental benefits of the project, claiming the state had to fund the effort in order to stave off climate alarmists’ belief in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. It would constitute one of the world’s largest carbon capture and sequestering operation and shuttle the clean fuel hydrogen, cracked from the area’s plentiful natural gas, to the company’s Texas location.


Lafayette needs different tack on panhandling

For now, Lafayette has secured a legal win in its effort to cut down on panhandling, but that might not last unless it shifts its strategy.

Last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected an attempt to invalidate the city-parish consolidated government’s Ordinance 62-32(7). That makes illegal “Acting in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others.” In the past few months, law enforcement has used that to arrest panhandlers.

Since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 in an unrelated case, local governments haven’t been able to ban panhandling, as soliciting for noncommercial purposes has become protected speech where government has a high burden of proof to restrict. As a result, they have sought means that are neutral in regards to content of the speech conveyed and with an objective important enough to override First Amendment concerns, while leaving adequate alternative channels for speech dissemination.