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7.4.22

Nonpartisan judicial elections disserve public

Those members of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee who recently voted for HB 206 either don’t understand the bill’s implications or aren’t for good government.

The bill by Democrat state Rep. Kyle Green would remove partisan designations from judicial ballots. While most states use elections to pick state court judges at least at the highest level, most that do don’t have partisan elections, the majority don’t use elections at lower levels, and Louisiana is unique as the only state that has partisan elections at all levels and does not feature retention elections as part of that.

Elections alone aren’t the best method because that carries the most possibility for political considerations to intrude in the selection process. This occurs because of the vacuum of information that voters by necessity have about these elections. They have next to no access to the minutiae behind decisions of sitting judges and for candidates without any bench experience none whatsoever. Further, even with that access most likely don’t have the interest to commit to understanding these.

6.4.22

Cassidy picks poor issue to debut populist self

The Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy redemption tour now heads to the National Flood Insurance Program, but it’s an issue where he may not find that much traction.

Last fall, rules alteration to the major mechanism for providing flood insurance in the country began shifting gears to price policies more realistically. A new methodology started bringing price increases to around two-thirds of the population, almost most will be relatively small, with larger amounts for the few phased in over the next several years. At that point in time, the changed rates impacted only new policies and the almost quarter who would see decreases on annual renewals.

Last week, the other shoe dropped with renewals suffering the increase commencing. Louisiana disproportionately, not surprisingly given its geography, will take a hit with only a fifth or so of ratepayers seeing reductions. And about 3 percent will see dramatically higher rates over the coming years, with these increasing not more than a rate of 18 percent a year for most, although some special cases could be 25 percent. But for single-family primary residences, a cap of $12,125 will be in place this first year, and other subsidies such as those reflecting how well local governments fortify against floods can lower this cost.

5.4.22

Bill aids case against election outsourcing

A recent state court decision has reinforced the original intent of how Louisiana funds elections, but a clarifying law would do better.

Last week, the state’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a district court decision that misread the Constitution and statute. In 2020, two special interest groups, the Center for Election Innovation and Research and the Center for Tech and Civic Life announced they would distribute hundreds of millions of dollars supposedly to defray election expenses in the face of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. However, a closer inspection particularly of the latter, which in Louisiana planned to operate through another advocacy organization called the Center for Secure and Modern Elections and eventually would channel nearly $400 million nationwide to election administrators, reveals grant restrictions that often followed leftist elections policies.

The CSME involvement was notably suspicious. The group acts as a child of the major leftist dark money group New Venture Fund, and is related to another, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, that lobbied for automatic voter registration and, ironically given the group’s name, against ballot security measures. For the 2020 election cycle, the former raised nearly $1 billion, whose largest donor in the hundreds of millions has been the Gates Foundation founded by multi-billionaire Bill Gates and ex-wife, and the latter nearly $400 million, about half from just four billionaires. Its principals have served in a number of capacities for leftist politicians and organizations.

4.4.22

Override effects to ripple well past Edwards

While the historic veto override of last week certainly demonstrated the continued deterioration of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ power, it also has future implications beyond his time in office.

When both chambers of the Legislature slapped down Edwards’ veto of a recent special session bill reapportioning the state’s congressional districts – especially with the House gaining crossover votes from a Democrat and three non-party representatives in order to succeed – it represented the first time a veto session had overturned a governor’s wish on anything. That came on the heels of the first veto session ever last summer, making this one just the second in nearly a half-century under the current Constitution.

Although conventional wisdom posits that Louisiana’s governor wields much power, actually those formally enshrined in the Constitution don’t give him an extraordinary amount, especially when compared to some other governors. The state’s chief executive doesn’t face some limitations as do some, not having to settle for relative few appointments and not facing much legislative ability to check executive orders, but at the same time only has all-or-nothing veto power except for budget line items and all can be overridden by the Legislature and he must put up with more separately-elected independent constitutional executive officers and boards than in almost any other state.

3.4.22

Perkins reelection hit by more bad publicity

After steering clear of controversy for a year, the latest flareup involving Shreveport’s Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins couldn’t have come at a worse time for him.

Up through the end of 2020, Perkins’ first two years in office had been tumultuous. The rookie politician made several policy and ethical missteps, culminating in a disastrous political move of running for the U.S. Senate and performing very poorly. It seemed to bode ill for a shot at reelection this year, but 2021 passed quietly for him without him attached to negative attention-getting events.

Until the end of the year. After some voluntary personnel resignations, at last year’s beginning the city needed to fill the chief administrative officer’s position, one of the most powerful in its ranks that requires City Council confirmation. Tapped to fill it in the interim was Kasey Brown, who had joined the Finance Department not long after Perkins took over. Brown, about Perkins’ age, had vaulted straight from a few years as an assistant bank branch manager – about the lowest managerial level in retail banking possible – into an assistant CFO position.