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Veto session needed to improve accountability

Due to faulty leadership by Republicans House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Sen. Pres. Page Cortez it now seems unlikely that the Louisiana Legislature will override any vetoes cast by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Still, for accountability’s sake conservative Republican majorities should trigger the session.

Failure by Cortez and Schexnayder to schedule and get passed at least a couple of weeks prior to the regular session’s close a number of bills Edwards ended up vetoing prevented boxing him into a corner where he knew override votes likely could come against any he cast, which likely would have discouraged his from doing that for many in the first place. And even for those he did veto, chances would have been high that overrides of several of these would have succeeded.

Instead, by delaying they put the supermajorities they essentially have for overrides at risk by giving a handful of less reliably conservative Republicans the chance to beg off session attendance, claiming they scheduled other obligations (or in the case of GOP state Sen. Rogers Pope, saying he wouldn’t vote for any overrides despite previously voting for the bills in question) during the veto session period even though they know the calendar puts one there that only may be canceled optionally. It may be that Cortez and Schexnayder allowed show votes on good legislation they knew Edwards likely would strike to let these members to burnish their credentials for next year’s elections by giving them the chance to vote for things they might really oppose, without eventual policy consequences.


Schexnayder, Cortez fail veto leadership tests

If overrides of vetoes cast by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards don’t happen this month, that will indict directly and negatively the leadership abilities, if not their commitment to quality legislation, of Republicans House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Sen. Pres. Page Cortez.

Earlier this week, Cortez said he thought any veto session would prove futile because, with only 26 GOP senators present and that the bare minimum to make for a supermajority, Republican state Sen. Rogers Pope had communicated to him that he wouldn’t vote for an override of any of the 28 measures (plus budget lines items) Edwards had vetoed – even though Pope voted for all of the most consequential items. It also turns out that Republican state Sen. Bodi White scheduled himself for surgery during the mid-July span.

Perhaps one could see this coming when one of the Senate’s get-along-go-along Republicans Rick Ward, seeing his influence wane as more solidly conservative Republicans increasingly called the legislative tune, announced just before the regular session’s end he would resign with more than a year to go in his final term. This gave the GOP Senate supermajority required to override successfully no margin to spare, echoing last year when Republican former Sen. Ronnie Johns said he wouldn’t and didn’t attend the veto session, then quit right after it to join the Edwards Administration.


LA needs to give CA taste of its own medicine

Two can play that game, and Louisiana should and could if it had a governor worth his salt.

Last week, California essentially slapped a state-paid travel ban on its employees from going to Louisiana and a few other states. New Orleans is a top ten destination for professional meetings and other conventions, many of which involve government employees.

The ostensible reason is from a state law giving its attorney general the power to declare other states’ laws as insufficiently pro-non-heterosexual, in this instance citing Louisiana’s newly minted Act 823 that compels scholastic and collegiate athletic teams to offer equal opportunities to each student to participate in team sporting events on an equal basis. The law asks California agencies to police the matters themselves, so it’s unclear just how porous the dictate might be.


GOP legislators driving leaders to veto session

So, what’s it going to be, veto session or not? What seems more certain is that the Republican leadership in the Louisiana Legislature doesn’t have much control over its members on this issue.

With a final body count of 28 (plus a few line items in the operating budget), Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards cast vetoes under the looming reality that not only a real possibility exists of a veto session springing to life to challenge his hit jobs, but also that one or more overrides may succeed. That the Legislature, with a GOP supermajority in the Senate plus one and only one short of that in the House of Representatives, called such a session last year and another concurrent with the regular session this year that did override a special session veto makes this inescapable.

And, yes, there now are 69 Republicans in the House with the quiet party switch of state Rep. Malinda White – at this time last year a Democrat – from no party. This likely has much more to do with her future political ambitions than any change of heart, but her eagerness ensures she’ll vote to override at least some measures so as to create favorable campaign talking points, and the fact that Democrat state Rep. Francis Thompson these days much more often votes with the GOP than with his fellow Democrats means an effective override majority now also exists in the House.


Independence Day, 2022

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, Jul. 4 being Independence Day, I invite you to explore the links connected to this page.


LA needed roads maybe slowed by Biden wokeism

Woke roads may not be coming to Louisiana, but the attitude behind these might slow down progress to complete the state’s portion of Interstate 49 to link with the rest of the country.

The concept of wokeness – that America from its history, culture, society, and economic system is so irredeemably racist that only replacement at the systemic level led by government (which itself needs a makeover for this reason) can cure it – made its practical appearance in transportation policy when the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration announced over $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to fund pilot projects that remove allegedly oppressive after-effects of highways going through area with majority-minority populations. This could include more portals and connecting access across areas where highways run, beautification, and repurposing of rail lines.

But most controversially, removal of those highways qualifies for the pot. That has been the goal in some urban areas, including New Orleans where Interstate 10 swoops south to skirt the north edge of the Vieux CarrĂ© before curving back to meet the straight-shot I-610, in the process following a stretch of Claiborne Avenue that seven decades ago was much more vibrant and a mecca for commerce in the city’s black community. Activists have argued for destruction of the elevated roadway and restoration of Claiborne.