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BC, if not LA, should ban smoking at casinos

Bossier City’s long history of trying to count coup on Shreveport for once might serve it well, with an opportunity presenting itself through a blunder by the latter.

For decades, Bossier City leaders have burdened themselves with a psychological inferiority complex relating to their larger and better-known (and, to many outsiders, with a more easily-pronounceable name) neighbor across the Red River. Feeling overshadowed, they have pursued policies attempting to make their city stand out from, if not look better than, Shreveport.

Usually, it has led to undesirable consequences. Leaders chafed when no comprehensive hospital located in Bossier City, so they decided to build the government-run Bossier Medical Center. That worked out until it became apparent that Willis-Knighton Systems would come to town with an initial offer allegedly for $42 million to buy BMC, whereupon egos kicked in and city leaders refused it. WKS then built its own, drove BMC numbers steeply into the red, and in a short time the city had a fire sale of the facility, which no longer operates, for $18 million. (Two city councilors from that era, no party Jeff Darby and Democrat Bubba Williams, still serve on the Council.)


Combo bills increase tax-cutting leverage

An alliance between those that don’t want to see smaller government in Louisiana and who understand the little use the state’s Quality Jobs Program has might form over Republican state Sen. Bret Allain’s SB 1 and SB 6.

His two bills rest a just a step short of legislative completion, now ready for the House floor. SB 1 would phase out the corporate franchise tax, which few states have and, because it taxes the total worth of a corporation it depresses investment and can cause cash flow problems, if not failure, when businesses don’t turn a profit. Of those states with one, Louisiana’s is the most punitive as it has the highest rate without a cap. The bill lops off a quarter of the tax over six calendar years starting in 2025 annually when the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund has an inflow in the associated fiscal year, which occurs when corporate income and franchise taxes together exceed $600 million annually.

Present law formulaically reduces the rate whenever the amount is exceeded. At last week’s Revenue Estimating Conference meeting, economists described as likely under current law the franchise tax rate would decline significantly if current forecasts manifest into reality. Given that testimony, SB 1 should also trigger a reduction, although it’s uncertain whether that would be as much, but trends suggest it would eliminate the whole thing by the 2031 end and perhaps as early as 2029.


Election outsourcing prohibition tries third time

Louisiana’s state senators need to emulate their House counterparts and give voters the chance to declare constitutionally that the state’s elections aren’t for sale, and in timely fashion.

HB 311 by Republican state Rep. Blake Miguez would amend the Constitution to prohibit foreign governments or nongovernmental sources to fund elections. Somewhat vaguely the prohibition exists in statute, but doesn’t apply to local elections, so passage of this by voters this fall would put it beyond statute’s reach and cover all elections.

The political left opposes such matters because its forces have had success in putting the thumb on the scale by outsourcing elections. Hundreds of millions of dollars from private sources, overwhelmingly funded by big-money donors who support leftist causes, problematically either disproportionately were directed towards election units that disproportionately vote for Democrats and/or funded outreach efforts of lower ballot security that invited unscrupulous behavior.


Bonus bucks no reason to bust LA spending cap

So, Louisiana has nearly three-quarters of a billion more bucks believed to flow into state coffers through fiscal year 2025, above and beyond required diversions. This should change nothing regarding the budget the House sent to the Senate earlier this month.

The latest meeting of the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference approved a forecast for this fiscal year of $323 million more and just over $400 million more for the next. After mandatory distributions to the Budget Stabilization Fund, the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund, to pay down unfunded accrued liabilities, and to meet coastal restoration, this adds on to a previously recognized half-million dollars or so above the state’s expenditure limit, a restriction which may be breached only by two-thirds supermajorities in each legislative chamber that hasn’t come close to fruition.

As a result, the BSF will hit its maximum of just over $900 million, which can be spent by as much as a third when actual revenues undershoot forecasts provided it wasn’t tapped the previous year. The RSTF, which accrues corporate income and franchise tax collections above $600 million annually, at nearing $1.7 billion remains well below its $5 billion trigger point, where when hitting that up to a tenth a year may be used for capital projects by legislative majorities, although at any time any amount may be sucked out by supermajorities.


Horton, Seabaugh making themselves hard targets

Let’s just say the timing of the old Bossier political establishment isn’t great this legislative election cycle.

The Benton courthouse gang and major portions of the Bossier Parish School Board and Bossier City Council prefer compliant state legislators who won’t work in support of forcing accountability and limited government onto local governments and will carry their water to milk the state as much as possible for their preferred interests. By those metrics, a couple of area legislators have provoked the establishment’s ire.

As a result of reapportionment, six districts will represent substantial portions of Bossier Parish from 2024 on. One is a new House district that extends south of the parish line and three others involve unquestionably fiscal and social conservative incumbents: GOP state Reps. Danny McCormick and Raymond Crews and Republican state Sen. Robert Mills. In their initial elections, both Crews and Mills faced establishment-backed candidates (brothers, in fact), but won.


LA needs well-defined initiative process

An initiative process isn’t a bad thing. Yet HB 165 by Democrat state Rep. Mandie Landry that would introduce this tool of direct democracy doesn’t get that job done and needs significant improvement to merit its passage.

The bill would add to the Constitution an initiative procedure to allow a popular vote to pass a law, repeal a law, or amend the Constitution. Such an idea works well when a sufficient mass of the public desires one of these things, as the Legislature may find itself pressured by special interests to keep things from entering code. After all, even a well-funded special interest will find it much easier to exert pressure on just 144 legislators rather than a couple of million voters.

But problematically, Landry’s bill doesn’t define these parameters and leaves these in the hands of the Legislature. If going to the trouble of amending the Constitution, exactitude is necessary. A review of the states that allow for an initiative process shows about half do so, and of those for altering statute the median is 10 percent of votes cast for governor in the previous election. Most also have geographic requirements that ensure at least some broad-based assent across their states.


Social liberal Edwards losing grasp on power

Besides offering more evidence of the unsuitability of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to hold that position, or any other elective officer above that of dogcatcher, recent comments by him against legislation to protect children, parents, and teachers reflect changing political circumstances that have accelerated the erosion of his rapidly-waning power, to the state’s benefit.

His remarks referred in part to HB 648 by Republican state Rep. Gabe Firment, which would prohibit surgery or chemicals to alter the sex of a minor; HB 466 by GOP state Rep. Dodie Horton that would ban classroom or extracurricular expressions extraneous to educating students that focus on sexual activity and gives parents control over the names and pronouns that refer to their children; and HB 81 by Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews that basically duplicates the regulation of naming conventions in Horton’s bill. All have passed the House.

That’s in marked contrast to last year, when Firment offered a similar bill that never received a committee hearing and Horton had the same minus the naming regime that had to be forced out of committee in a parliamentary move rarely seen, although it advanced no further. The naming controversy in the past year has become increasingly visible over revelations that some schools intentionally keep parents in the dark about their efforts to encourage children to identify differently than their biological sex (no Louisiana schools have been reported to do this).


Senate threatens fiscally conservative bills

Louisiana’s Republican voters need to have an intervention with some of their party’s state senators over their grasshopper free-spending preferences, a task with which their party’s state representatives can assist.

Earlier this month, the House delivered a general appropriations bill to the Senate that recognized the state’s spending cap and sensibly prepared for a future of reduced revenues. The false economy produced by catastrophically-high debt spending from Democrat-controlled Washington (now starting to punish the American people with historically high inflation, negative relative wage growth, and lower workforce participation with a double-dip recession in the offing) artificially inflated state tax collections, with a threat ahead in about two years when the sales tax increase of 2016, modified in 2018, will roll off the books. This means the state, starting in fiscal year 2024, will see a retrenchment in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

The House version of HB 1 wisely adhered to the state’s expenditure limit that filters out the false economy, meaning that forecast surpluses for this and presumably next fiscal years can’t in total be spent in FY 2024 without a supermajority in both legislative chambers to override. Instead, the plan increased paying down more of constitutionally-mandated reductions in pension liabilities, which in turn frees up future dollars for state and local governments, particularly school districts.


Port fends off bill to clip its override power

Having potentially grifted future Bossier City water customers, the Port of Caddo-Bossier might start putting things people don’t want next to their backyards – with local governments powerless to stop that.

The now-notorious Oct. 17, 2022 meeting of the Port Commission produced Resolution #19 that enticed Bossier City to give it enough money to build a water distribution facility. If the city in future years decides to use even one drop from that, city ratepayers will be on the hook for as much as an estimated $62 million with no asset in return.

But another vote taken then may lead to an even more profound impact on the entirety of Bossier Parish, and Caddo as well. Resolution #20 ratified a complicated arrangement that will deprive some local government entities of tax dollars they otherwise would collect as well as points to the possibility that decisions like this could override local land use regulations.


Schexnayder political fortunes clearly waning

Events over the past couple of weeks signal trouble ahead for Louisiana House of Representatives Republican Speaker Clay Schexnayder.

Term-limited, Schexnayder spent months expressing interest in various statewide offices to continue his political career. Finally, after current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin surprisingly announced he would desist from reelection, Schexnayder threw in his lot for that post.

That pits him against former SOS candidate and current Republican Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis, who carries a hefty war chest and extensive connections with state Republicans from his past party service including a stint as chairman. Grocery chain owner Brandon Trosclair also stands in his way.


Despite big improvement, reject film tax credit

Even if playing with house money that eventually sunsets the program, Louisiana legislators should reject allowing the state’s Motion Picture Investors tax credit to bleed, even if reduced fashion, the state for another dozen years.

In this session, legislators have the option of extending the life of the exception past its scheduled end-of-fiscal year 2025 sunset. HB 562 by Republican Speaker Clay Schexnayder would give it another decade of life after that, and originally would have freed it from a $150 million annual cap on issuance although the $180 million annual cap on redemption would remain.

The credit allows for reimbursement of expenses in film or television production anywhere from 25 to 55 percent of expenses from a base amount of $50,000 to $300,000 on state income taxes; alternatively, these may act as a refundable credit at 90 cents to the buck (minus two percent as a transfer fee). Almost all monies paid out occur through this route, as according to the latest data nearly 97 percent goes to corporations, and overwhelmingly to out-of-state entities that have minimal Louisiana income tax liability. Simply, it’s taxpayer dollars siphoned directly into the pockets of filmmakers, only some of which makes it back into the state’s economic stream.


Left hopes coming soon to racetrack near you ....

(It was Cinco de Mayo when the actual event occurred, not Apr. 1. But, given the views of leftist political elites these days, maybe this isn’t so far-fetched ….)

Activists and Democrats from the White House on down hailed as historic the victory by Heemaneh in the Kentucky Oaks, the premier race for three-year-old fillies, as the first win ever in a Grade 1 stakes race by a transgender horse.

As Louisiana-bred Heemaneh, who goes by the pronoun “zir,” has done since zir transitioning began at the start of the year, zir decimated the field, as trainer Bob Baffling’s bettor favorite smashed the race record and won by double-digit lengths. Standing a couple of hands higher than any of zir competitors, from the time they left the gate all they saw of zir was zir rear heels.


Unfunded mandate hits NWLA residents hardest

Concerning water issues, not only do Shreveport and Bossier City residents have to worry about the fiscal health of their city-run water utilities, but also many now must face an unfunded mandate in the hundreds of dollars annually despite the best efforts of the state senator who represents both cities, an issue that may impact elections this fall.

This week, the Louisiana Department of Health issued grades to water systems through 2022. Using an extensive rubric, all in the state received a score from 0 to 100 (technically 110, as bonus points were awarded to those systems with an asset management plan). Shreveport didn’t fare that well, scoring only 75. It lost half of the 10 points available for fiscal sustainability, all 20 for infrastructure, and all 10 for customer satisfaction (a point off for each valid complaint about the system water quality or quantity). Without the bonus for the plan, it would have scored among the bottom 15 percent of systems in the state.

Its deficiencies don’t surprise. Woefully behind on fixing long-identified shortcomings that led to a consent decree with the federal government about a decade ago, the city remains hundreds of millions of dollars away from finishing required repairs within the next four years, so far behind partially because elected officials hesitated in raising water and waste fees due to the political unpopularity of that response.


Panel follows science in protecting children

All the ignorance, fibbing, and emoting doesn’t change the facts that make Republican state Rep. Gabe Firment’s HB 463 worth enacting, if not vitally so, into law.

The bill would prohibit any procedure that physically or hormonally changes the sexual physiology of a minor, except in the very rare instances of disorder of sex development or dealing with the consequences of previous attempts to change sex. Science unimpeachably supports the proposition behind the bill that these permanent alterations to children almost always cause more harm than good, and out of an abundance of caution under the watchful waiting protocol typically practiced in Europe that plays out to allow for developing physical, mental, and maturity until adulthood for those who at some point believe they want to try to change their sex, this protects children from rash decision-making by them and others affecting their adolescent lives.

Unfortunately, this area of investigation suffers from a plague of poor research quality. Common problems of these studies feature unrepresentative samples, lack of adequate controls, and unjustified inferential leaps. The efforts that do the best in avoiding these pitfalls shatter common myths circulated by advocates of making permanent physical changes to children who at some point identify as transgender.


Conservatives leverage LA into better budget

It’s a great first step, but the Louisiana Legislature can do a whole lot better when it comes to a responsible fiscal year 2024 budget and use of surplus dollars over the last couple of years.

This week, the state’s general operations budget HB 1 kicked off its journey to the consternation of free spenders. Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his partisan followers in the Legislature – and not a few Republicans including chamber leaders – had grandiose ideas about the using the bonus bucks mainly on infrastructure and larding out all sorts of new commitments, such as pay raises for educators and local public safety personnel, in this year’s spending plan.

But to accomplish that, the state would have to bust its spending cap by several hundred million dollars, a move opposed by the Louisiana Conservative Caucus that is comprised of most House Republicans as well as the Louisiana Freedom Caucus, which likely overlaps in membership considerably with the Conservative Caucus. These legislators argue that the surplus money (past the constitutional mandates for its use) primarily should go to paying down unfunded accrued liabilities in the state’s retirement systems, which not only would avert breaching the cap but also would relieve local governments from having to pay excess contributions into the state systems for defeasance of the UAL constitutionally mandated by 2029 that would free up money for other uses such as raising salaries.


Fewer weeks unemployment paid better for LA

Taking the first steps to challenge Governor Nyet’s agenda of bloated, redistributionist government, Louisiana’s legislative Republican supermajorities look primed to start the party a year early in right-sizing state government.

This week, on nearly party-line votes, each chamber in the Legislature passed bills that could leave more money in the hands of the people. In the Senate, bills by GOP state Sen. Bret Allain have moved out of committee which collectively would phase out corporate income and franchise taxes and get rid of the inventory tax credit that would keep over $600 million in the people’s wallets over the next five years. Four years after that, during which annual net revenue decreases in the dozens of millions of dollars will occur, the lasting annual impact thenceforth is predicted as a $324 million reduction.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards can’t veto the phase-out of the inventory tax as it must take the form of a constitutional amendment, but he could try to attenuate savings elsewhere with vetoes of the other two measures. If all Republicans in both chambers stick together in voting for any veto attempt, they will frustrate him.


Rogue GOP senators aid nonsense insurance bill

In Democrat state Sen. Jay Luneau’s world, ideology is more important than people, to which his sponsorship of SB 81 attests. Why a pair of Republicans would sign onto that is anybody’s guess.

The bill would add the word “gender” to prohibited classification in the setting of vehicle insurance rates in Louisiana, as is the case in only seven others. It’s all that’s left from a string of demagogic bills Luneau kept proposing in past sessions that have tried to circumscribe rate-setting tools for insurers that, in every case, legitimately price risk, which deservedly bit the dust.

As is typical, the argument for this particular attenuation was intellectual mishmash. Luneau presented a single study as proof alleged discrimination occurred against women merely for gender, but then he and Senate Insurance Committee supporters also argued that nobody really knew what goes into pricing – a sentiment also shared by other on the committee against it. In regards to the fact brought out in testimony that most studies showed men nationally paid more and so this change likely would cause the same in Louisiana, Luneau replied that the (tepid) tort reform measures passed (over his objections) three years ago actually saw increases in rates in years following, implying this wouldn’t happen.


Bossier appointee gigged; police jurors next?

It looks as if it will have taken three years to get the Cypress Black Bayou Recreation and Water Conservation District to follow the law. In a similar situation, it will take at least over twice that time to get the Bossier Parish Police Jury to do the same.

This week, the Louisiana Supreme Court added another, and likely penultimate stop, to the saga involving CBB Executive Director Robert Berry, who problematically also serves as one of the five commissioners with power over the executive director. He was appointed by the Bossier Parish Police Jury with his five-year term expiring at the end of June.

It’s a long and convoluted story, but basically in 2020 Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s office got wind of Berry’s dual service and notified CBB that needed to change for it to stay legally compliant. That didn’t happen, but GOP 26th District Atty. Schuyler Marvin did bring a suit to remove Berry. However, some suspicions arose that Marvin, as part of the Benton courthouse gang wanting to protect one of their own, did so in order to draw a ruling to absolve Berry, so Landry’s office intervened and filed a parallel motion.


Biden CAGW faith aiding LA GOP candidates

Just as the previous president of one party helped to keep as Louisiana governor someone of the other party, the current president of one party looks to be giving a leg up to someone of the other party winning the state’s governor’s race later this year.

Without someone like Republican former Pres. Donald Trump in office, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards never would have stood a chance to win reelection. Trump’s championing tax cuts through Congress and his easing of regulatory burdens put the nation’s economy into another gear from the historically-worst recovery under his predecessor Democrat Pres. Barack Obama. Despite Edwards doing the opposite and inflating the size of government, which resulted in a shrinking population, job loss, and rising proportion of able-bodied adults choosing not to work while almost every other state saw more people, more jobs, and higher personal income increases, he squeaked back into the Governor’s Mansion on the strength of Trump’s economy that blunted his policy mistakes.

Four years later, the same dynamic but in a different way has come into play. With inflation ravaging the savings and retirement nest eggs of Americans, triggered by the massive borrowing and hyper-spending of Democrat Pres. Joe Biden and (until this start of this year) a compliant Congress, Biden has ignored rectifying this and he and his administration continue to lob campaign slow softballs to Republicans seeking to succeed Edwards, in the form of executive actions that promise only to drive the cost-of-living even higher for no good reason.


Pull DEI out by roots to protect LA colleges

The Louisiana Legislature needs to take a broader approach than the Republican State Central Committee to ensure that sex, ethnic or national characteristics, or political or religious beliefs or affiliations stay out of decisions regarding its students and employees.

Earlier this month, the RSCC passed a resolution asking the legislature to ban diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) departments and offices within all colleges and universities in the state, both public and private. It declares such expenditures of tax dollars at state schools promote a particular political orthodoxy in institutions that by definition are to serve as repositories of robust inquiry and implies that money is spent needlessly on that proselytizing.

This request overlaps to a small degree with HR 13 by Republican state Rep. Valarie Hodges. The resolution, which actually can’t compel as a law could, would have all state education institutions in the state, from elementary through high schools and colleges, submit reports on programs and activities related to DEI, critical race theory and social emotional learning. The reports would identify whether dedicated DEI infrastructures exist at higher education institutions.


Maybe not new boss same as old, but fooled again

A new revelation from Bossier City’s contracted city engineer relating to a state grant and a water deal between the city and Port of Caddo-Bossier may explain why a City Council majority passed the deal despite numerous red flags at least one of its members seemed to miss, as part of campaign pursued by the Port, contractor Manchac Consulting Group, and the Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler Administration.

It’s frustrating to me, and perhaps repetitive if not boring to readers, to have to go through this again, because the facts outlined below have been discussed time and time and time and time and time again, and well in advance of the Apr. 4 meeting that approved the deal. But it all necessarily deserves another look as a consequence of statements made at the last, Apr. 18, Council meeting shedding light on the possibility that a strategy of ambiguity engaged in by several parties with a vested interest in seeing the deal go through sought to steer, and seemingly successfully did, skeptical councilors away from a true and full understanding of the deal’s implications.

By now, details of the water deal are familiar: the Port would issue bonds to pay for a water facility for distribution and treatment that Bossier City would run, which would commit itself to a long-term liability equal to the total cost of the bond issue for the right to run it and keep all revenues past costs once that amount had been reached. While the deal would last 40 years, the obligation to rebate (legally necessary because of city ordinances that don’t let the city treat customers in the same water/sewerage class differentially in rates charged) would begin only if and when the city drew a single drop of water from the plant, which could be years into it.


Decree ready to take toll on Arceneaux fortunes

The issue of which no Shreveport mayoral candidate would speak now threatens to exact its toll on the nascent Republican Mayor Tom Arceneaux Administration.

Almost a decade after the city entered into a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, it finds itself in an increasingly deteriorating situation. With an end date at the tail end of his term – in fact, right around the election for the next – it’s far behind on the work to replace aging infrastructure that threatens water quality and wastewater treatment; so far, in fact, that Arceneaux revealed the city is getting ready to be hit with a $4 million fine for dilatoriness.

Progress drags because the remediation continues to escalate. The final price tag, which started with an estimate of $350 million, now has tripled and the work isn’t nearly complete. Of the 64 identified critical projects as of nearly the end of last year, only a quarter have been finished. An eighth only have started the planning stage.


Don't revive costly, wasteful LA film tax credit

The lobbying has begun in earnest for Louisianans to continue the equivalent of flushing their tax dollars down the toilet with Republican Speaker Clay Schexnayder’s HB 562.

Not only would the bill allow the Motion Picture Investors Tax Credit to continue past fiscal year 2025 it also would make it open-ended, where it currently has a limit of $150 million issued a year (with $180 million redeemable in a year). The credit allows for reimbursement of expenses in film or television production anywhere from 25 to 55 percent of expenses from a base amount of $50,000 to $300,000 on state income taxes; alternatively, these may act as a refundable credit at 90 cents to the buck (which is how the vast majority of the payout occurs given that few beneficiaries principally do business in the state).

The law requires an analysis every couple of years, and over the two decades of the credit’s existence those have shown it to be a black hole spending far more taxpayer dollars than what was returned to state and local governments, costing the state well over a billion dollars. The latest returned the typical dismal numbers for fiscal years 2021-22: total tax dollars collected were about an eleventh of what earnings were generated door, and the return on investment for the former year was 35 cents and the latter 39 cents, meaning for FY 2022 every dollar spent saw 61 cents evaporate.


End ITEP as part of LA property tax overhaul

Republican Treas. John Schroder got told by GOP state Rep. Richard Nelson that anything you can do, I can do better. Voters need to listen to that even if legislators don’t.

Both have announced a run for governor this fall, and both have spoken publicly about something that other candidates haven’t: reform of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program. ITEP allows the state to forgive local property taxes up to ten years for a concern that builds new infrastructure.

However, the governor has veto power over those arrangements, and since Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards took office he has shaped how the program has worked by saying he will veto anything that doesn’t feature fewer years, a smaller portion written off, and approval of major local government bodies. These actions have had an indeterminate but negative impact on it: a poorly-designed report attempting to show the rules changes didn’t scare off new business failed to assess that properly but in passing indicates those did discourage new activity.


LA colleges shouldn't use race, sex preferences

Why should Louisiana wait on the U.S. Supreme Court? Ban its public universities and colleges from using race, sex, or national origin in admissions decisions – and go further by extending the same to most financial aid.

SB 128 by Republican state Sen. Jay Morris would accomplish this. Insofar as admissions, it anticipates what the Court likely will do before the quarter is out in a pair of cases before it, although that decision also would apply to private and proprietary schools in the state that receive any kind of federal funding, even indirectly.

It makes sense. Even proponents of the practice of affirmative action, where admittance decisions give extra weight to individuals with certain immutable characteristics as a compensation for past discrimination of the entire broad class of such people, admit at best it has a mixed record in aiding presumably disadvantaged groups, while opponents – which include a solid majority of the American public – point out it actually poses harm to such individuals in that it sets them up for failure by admitting them to more-demanding institutions when their backgrounds on the basis of past achievement suggest they would do better at other, less selective schools.


Agenda shifts might fail ambitious candidates

It’s no accident that earlier this week a Louisiana legislator made a long-predicted party switch and a statewide official would choose to announce a deferral of reelection. Both relate to the political fortunes and future of Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder.

State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe proclaimed he had shed his Democrat label in favor of the Republican. By the numbers, that now gives the GOP at 71 seats a chamber supermajority plus one and sends Democrats to a dismal 32, of which only five are white like Lacombe.

LaCombe saw the writing on the wall after losing a special election for state Senate against a rookie but solidly conservative Republican, and additionally as a result of reapportionment his district saw its proportion of white voters increase five percentage points relative to its proportion of black registrants, who typically vote for Democrats. Whether that means much in terms of supporting a conservative Republican agenda at first glance seems minimal: with a Louisiana Legislative Log score averaging just over 53 for the past term, it puts him at a lower score than every Republican along with another relatively recent convert who plans to leave the chamber after this year, state Rep. Malinda White (higher scores mean more fidelity to a conservative/reform agenda, and his score is well below both the chamber mean and that of GOP representatives). Conservative votes on some social issues, primarily related to abortion, elevated his score.


Honesty, not evasion, best remedy for mistake

The toughest thing for an elected official to do is pick himself up off the ground after making a blunder. So it’s encouraging that even if they made the wrong choice on hanging a huge future liability around Bossier City’s neck, Republican City Councilors Chris Smith and Brian Hammons made the right choice to face constituents publicly on this issue, as well as take questions on other matters.

The pair will appear Apr. 12 from noon to 1 PM at the Bellaire South Complex at 4330 Panther Drive Bossier City for the monthly meeting of the South Bossier Lunch Group. Smith is an at-large councilor but who lives in south Bossier City, while Hammons represents the southern-most constituency in the city, District 1.

Last week, both voted for a proposal that would reimburse the Port of Caddo-Bossier for costs related to the Port’s construction of a water distribution and treatment facility on its property. The city would operate and maintain this but would not own it. Using figures stated by the Port Commission’s executive director Eric England and reviewing similar bond issue costs, the total liability the city signed onto is $62 million over 40 years beginning payouts as soon as it draws one drop of water at any time during those four decades.


Edwards last speech sanctimonious, deceptive

It didn’t take eight years to understand the hypocritical charlatan that is Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, but it was his last State of the State speech that laid it out most plainly.

The annual address by the governor to the start of the regular legislative session was larded up with the typical assortment of misleading statements, either because these didn’t have the proper context or implied something false. As examples of the former, Edwards proclaimed how the state’s all-time low unemployment rate equated to more Louisianans working than ever – but not mentioning the unemployment rate is at a historic low largely because of depopulation (the state having 91,000 fewer residents than when he took office, likely largely economic refugees) and the labor force participation rate being at a 45-year low (absent the pandemic period), 1.4 points lower than in 2016 and in the nation’s bottom ten, leaving the state with almost 35,000 fewer nonfarm jobs than six years ago. And as for the latter, he placed “climate change” and “Storms are getting stronger and more frequent” in the same breath to imply a relationship, when in fact storms haven’t changed in severity or frequency in recent times.

At a few points, however, he did outright lie. One he has often repeated cropped back up on this occasion, that because of Medicaid expansion he triggered – which now costs state taxpayers directly, not even counting the extra federal taxes they pay for it, $451 million a year –  “we haven’t had a single rural hospital closure. Not. One.” In fact, even before he ran for reelection that was demonstrably false.


Easter Sunday, 2023

This column publishes five days weekly after 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 Sunday, Apr. 9 being Easter, I invite you to explore this link.


Prudence requires rejecting LA spending cap hike

Conservatives in the Louisiana Legislature can’t flinch at the chance to keep state spending at a more sensible level.

The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic bonus tax revenues for states, from record increases in federal borrowing sustained by Washington Democrats that force-fed an expanded money supply through the economy, has made state coffers flush last year, this year, and likely the next before it fades away – although this action also eroded the value of those dollars by triggering record price inflation that hardly has moderated. This has produced for last year, this year, and forecast for next year extra dollars to the tune of two and a quarter billion for Louisiana.

Naturally, politicians have plans for that. Around a third has to go to nonrecurring spending that includes mandatory paying off unfunded pensions and replenishing the Budget Stabilization Fund, with the remainder to a few select uses. Both Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and legislative leaders have offered to use the balance for capital outlay projects.


BC politicians may change, imprudence remains

Bossier City elected officials may change, but their stupid policy-making remains the same, reminding citizens that it will take awhile to reorient city policy in a better direction.

This week, a smooth-talking and highly-paid bureaucrat, in cahoots with a private contractor, and bullied by clueless chief executive and a councilor who benefits monetarily from the bureaucrat’s agency, conned the rubes that populate the Bossier City Council into putting city ratepayers, and maybe taxpayers, on the hook for tens of millions of dollars over the next 40 years in a highly speculative venture out of which it will own nothing, for reasons which have nothing to do with the city’s basic obligations to its residents.

The bureaucrat, Caddo-Bossier Port Commission Executive Director Eric England, finally closed the highly-advantageous deal for the Port by a 5-2 vote of the Council. This deal commits the city to pay an estimated $62 million to the Port so the Port can finance building of a water distribution and treatment facility that the city will run but the Port will own, within the next 40 years as long as the city authorizes even one drop of water to run through the system.


LA should appoint, not elect, insurance boss

 The time has come to eliminate one more opportunity for political aggrandizement and reduce the potential for corruption by making Louisiana’s commissioner of insurance an appointive rather than elective office.

Republican state Sen. Kirk Talbot has offered SB 208 for the legislative session soon to start, which would accomplish this. The commissioner would be appointed for a six year term, maximum two, by the governor from a list of three nominees by a committee of legislators, designees of other elected state executives, and representatives of related interest groups. It would apply after inauguration day, 2024. Because of a constitutional provision addressing statewide elected officials, two-thirds majorities would have to assent.

Louisiana goes overboard with its statewide elected officials, with its seven among the most of the states. Elected insurance commissioners aren’t common, with only nine other states having these and in a few instances their functions are combined with others.

That few states elect theirs makes sense when comparing the advantages and disadvantages. Certainly, elections bring a popular mandate to performing the job, but ideally the job largely comprises of administration without much chance to make policy that largely the Legislature dictates. If elected, where policy may be influenced by this official would have a bias towards lower rates, since voters overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, prefer lower rates over higher. However, this can prove problematic if a commissioner can and does influence rates to go too low that discourages policy-writing that either leaves gaps or forces the state to step in regardless at higher costs to other ratepayers or taxpayers.


LA dilatory response to waste huge bucks

In his zeal to keep from diminution Louisiana’s welfare state politics that have given it one of the worst qualities of life and economic development in the union, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards will cost state taxpayers hundred of millions of dollars over his administration of Medicaid in the next 14 months.

That stems from his choices in unwinding the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic extended Medicaid spending. Three years ago when the pandemic descended, Congress declared that it would increase its allocation to the states by 6.2 percent beyond its normal share paying for the program, to last through the last quarter after the president declared the pandemic over. Democrat Pres. Joe Biden, needlessly delaying congressional termination to let the gray train keep rolling in order to try to boost votes for his party’s candidates last November, didn’t do so until the end of last year.

This resulted in an over one-quarter boost nationally to Medicaid rolls. States probably preferred this, as the best estimates are that at the 6.2 level states actually made more despite the expanded clientele.


Name bill good to protect kids, reduce confusion

To date inexplicably hesitant to strengthen protections of children, this session the Louisiana Legislature need not whiff on a bill that not only does that, but that also calms fears of school employees and related personnel.

HB 81 by Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews would have school personnel address students by the names on their birth certificates, unless parental permission grants use of another, as well as use the pronoun associated with the student’s sex unless similar permission is granted. Even the pronoun consideration may be overridden if the alternate choice runs counter to the speaker’s religious or moral convictions.

This should come with welcome relief for school personnel. Emboldened by leftist politicians and media, the increasingly aggressive, even violent, eliminationist rhetoric and action emanating from transgender activist groups and followers puts at risk those who might commit spoken thoughtcrimes in the eyes of these special interests and draw their wrath. Only last year, a Kansas teacher was reprimanded and suspended for addressing a student by the student’s legal and enrolled name and forced her to conceal the student’s social transition from the student’s parents. Fortunately, she sought legal recourse and won a $95,000 judgment against school authorities. A law like HB 81 would remove worry from school personnel that they could face retribution for simply trying to communicate with students using the least ambiguous information about their names and the pronouns that apply.


Woke electoral wins in NO, LA may have crested

Woke may have crested among the electorate in Louisiana’s woke capital, if a couple of recent election results serve as indicators.

Earlier this year, Democrat state Rep. Royce Duplessis won a transfer to the state Senate in a battle with a colleague, Democrat state Rep. Mandie Landry. They vied to take the seat resigned last year by Democrat former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson after graft landed her in the big house. That New Orleans district by population had a slight black plurality but by voter registration a slight white plurality. Duplessis is black and Landry is white.

Both are considered “progressive” Democrats; i.e., largely rejecting the role of government as a corrective agent of alleged imperfections in a society and economy with policy designed to promote equality of opportunity by instead embracing wholesale systemic change by use of government power to promote equality of outcome. “Woke” is a further extension, a condition that places individuals into silos depending upon their characteristics and where an understanding has been reached that those contained in the white, particularly male, particularly believing that biology determines sex, particularly acting heterosexually, and particularly practicing traditional Christianity silo(s) act in accordance with an irredeemably noxious set of cultural values that oppress all others, using disproportionate and illegitimately gained power, requiring that expression of these values must be censored and those adherents to these identities must defer to the wishes and values of all others identifying differently.

For example, on criminal justice issues traditional liberal Democrats would focus on procedural matters to ensure fairness for the accused and convicted. Progressive Democrats would go further in imposing their policy preferences on the system, such as great reluctance to pursue capital punishment and charging suspects in a way that avoids alleged sentencing disparities for reasons other than facts of the crime. But woke Democrats would act to eviscerate the system itself because of its presumed built-in inequities, subverting it by means such as no/cashless bail, decisions to downgrade or not prosecute, and whether to accept or release prisoners according to various criteria.

Certainly “progressive” and “woke” are highly interrelated concepts. But one discriminating criterion is the significantly higher degree of systemic rejection that woke demands. This extends beyond just society and trickles down substantially into its substructures.

In electoral politics, this means perceptions of institutions like political parties and the transactional nature of political campaigns. More purely woke politicians are much more suspicious of working through existing parties and more hesitant to dilute their agendas with appeals to out-groups as part of their electoral strategy. Perhaps the best-known in Louisiana of them is Democrat Gary Chambers, who lost bids for the U.S. House and Senate yet drawing substantial support despite working entirely outside of the party apparatus.

These tendencies didn’t appear to be drawbacks to the 2020 and 2021 campaigns that brought woke New Orleans politicians, all Democrats, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, District Attorney Jason Williams, and Sheriff Susan Hutson, victories. Again using the policy area of criminal justice where all contribute in its administration, with voter assent each brought woke agendas to carrying out their legal duties.

But it didn’t work out for the Senate contest for the more woke of the two candidates, Landry. Duplessis was more willing to engage in transactional politics with interests opposed to the woke agenda, trying to placate them on at least some issues, and he more vigorously courted traditional organizations, of Democrats, blacks, and others. Importantly, his racial appeals centered on transactional benefits, not woke bromides. Enough voters responded to hand him a close win.

With his House seat now vacated, a special election was needed to fill that. A runoff between black Democrats ensued, led by community organizer Sibil Fox Richardson with small businessman Alonzo Knox not far behind.

Richardson, with a criminal background and whose post-prison efforts have focused on the incarcerated, articulated the more woke agenda while Knox, who once worked for various Democrat elected officials and has served in various local government-related positions, came off as the more mainstream, even as both articulated progressive issue preferences.

Perhaps indicating wokeism was losing steam as a distinguishing concept, some groups and politicians including Hutson more often aligned with woke agendas (including a group focusing on political engagement of former convicts) endorsed Knox while several party-oriented elected officials backed Richardson. In the runoff, Knox came out ahead.

It is a somewhat isolated set of cases, one part of New Orleans with considerable overlap. And a recent recall effort against Cantrell fizzled, but statute makes these difficult to succeed. Still, that the less extreme, even if relatively extreme, candidates won election might serve as the canary in the coal mine suggesting that wokeism has peaked. With regular legislative elections up to the plate this fall, that thesis will receive a much more comprehensive test.


Bad BC water deal illustrates insider influence

Increasing debate about an issue should clarify. Instead, whether intended by certain Bossier City policy-makers and Port of Caddo-Bossier allies, another round over the proposed water deal between the two made matters murkier than ever – perhaps as a tactic to push it across the goal line.

Earlier this week the Bossier City Council held an unprecedented repeat workshop over a plan to have the Port build a water distribution and waste treatment facility with ancillaries that would connect to Bossier City’s system. The Port would own it but the city would maintain and operate it while paying the equivalent of the principal and interest on the debt behind it by providing after expenses half-priced services to the Port’s clients up to the point of the total amount of that – from representations previously made by Port Executive Director Eric England around $62 million – where beyond that the city would collect the entirety, for 40 years.

The idea has been troubled from the start when Republican Councilor David Montgomery – who has received over $600,000 in commissions from the Port since 2008 for writing its insurance policies – first put the item on the Council’s agenda. It was continued from that meeting, a workshop held, after initial approval pulled off the agenda the next meeting, and then this workshop redux held, indicating majority resistance and minority insistence to keep it alive.


Bill subverts value of part-time legislative pay

On a scale grander than any Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority plan, no party state Rep. Joe Marino wants to create more swamp at the Capitol by turning state legislators into full-time employees that can disconnect from their constituents’ lives and degrade policy outcomes.

Marino’s HB 149 would induce huge pay raises for state legislators starting next year. Currently, except for a few leaders who make roughly twice that, legislators receive $16,800 a year, although adding in per diem payments and any from committee work or special sessions often doubles that or more. The bill would boost that base salary to $60,000 and send leaders’ up almost half again or double that – and all indexed for inflation.

Keep in mind that only a handful of states pay an equivalent of the median household income or higher to their state legislators where most, like Louisiana, define these public servants as part-time employees. Louisiana would join this upper tier at these levels of base salary.


Advocate could close NWLA local news gap

Substantial change may be on the way to Shreveport-area media if apparent plans by Louisiana’s largest newspaper come to fruition.

The Advocate, based in Baton Rouge but with papers also operating in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Lake Charles, looks to be poking around to publishing a version in Shreveport. Its publisher recently toured the area meeting with various individuals. One idea seemingly broached was to set up a fund to supplement area reporting, hoping to draw bucks from local individuals and corporations.

Already the Advocate has something like this in place, called the Louisiana Investigative Journalism Fund. It has a relationship with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, headed up by political operative Andy Kopplin who prior to this gig worked for Republican former Gov. Mike Foster, Democrat former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and Democrat former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. It allows for tax-free donations that the organization passes through and has attracted several high-profile donors plus a huge gift from the leftist Ford Foundation.


Politicized LA coastal report needs reworking

Hopefully at the conclusion of the public comment period that ends Mar. 25, the Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration will take seriously submissions and make the corrections appertaining to these that point out the anti-science aspects within the proposed Coastal Master Plan that risk of misspending billions of dollars.

Every five years (six actually in this case) Louisiana has committed to modifying the course it charts to shape the state’s coastline. In this task among other things, the state wants to put in place physical alterations that designed to preserve the coast that will ameliorate its disappearance, flooding, and adverse cultural and commercial impacts. The plan anticipates spending $50 billion split between restoration and risk reduction over the next half-century.

Unfortunately, politics has intruded upon the effort, with junk science accepted into the document’s core assumptions that postulates catastrophic anthropogenic global warming will cause environmental alterations that trigger massive changes to Earth’s geoforms. Following politically fashionable trendiness, the last, 2017 effort suffered from this primarily in its wild overestimation of eustatic sea level rise that in the course of its formation went, when compared to the actual data, from a high and improbable standard to one essentially unreasonable.


Short leash on Arceneaux won't fix big problems

The possibilities of and limits to what Republican Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux can do quickly have become apparent – and voters this weekend may make his life more difficult still.

Arceneaux succeeded Democrat Adrian Perkins, who from the very start when he didn’t appear distracted or disinterested in governing wanted to hook up allies and/or pursue a quasi-progressive agenda at the expense of mundane but needed city tasks, behavior that produced a steady stream of drama. By contrast, Arceneaux already has made the trains run on time and stressed accomplishing the basics without latching onto pie-in-the-sky ideas.

In his first three months in office he appropriately handled a suspicious police shooting that has led to charges against the former officer, who recently resigned. He demurred over a project to bring professional baseball back to Shreveport that Perkins had hyped in the final days of his failed reelection bid. He junked another Perkins tout, a real-time crime center, as it appears it didn’t operate by statute because of security concerns, and will reevaluate the idea. He began the process of reviewing city policy about use of parks for private functions, which for years has allowed a for-profit festival to take place in one that he seemed to know little about. And he expeditiously set in motion getting city pools open on time later in the spring; last year, under Perkins the city initially yanked the contract from the long-time operator because it appeared not to have enough racial diversity in its management only to restore that under public criticism after the initial winner backed out over the controversy, which caused a late start.


Wins, not switches, to help LA GOP conservatives

Historically, Republicans now have supermajority status in the entire Legislature, thanks to the defection of state Rep. Francis Thompson from Democrats. Exercising that in fact rather than name, however, is another story.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Thompson created a House supermajority since he’s the only member of the House ever to have served in one prior. That was in 2003 when Democrats had that status, when he had been a legislator already for 28 years after starting at a time only four Republicans sat in the chamber.

While Thompson described his switch as a product of Democrats moving away from his core beliefs, it’s easy to forget that two decades ago today’s supermajority-maker once was a confirmed big-spending good-old-boy leader of that legislative party. Inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2005, in the years immediately following that Thompson continued to pursue government-as-economic-engine policy, such as propping up a government-run sugar mill subsidized by taxpayers and wanting to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on creating reservoirs emulating Poverty Point (in his district and in the process of getting it built would eventually land his family in legal trouble), as well as supporting squandering taxpayer dollars in subsidizing milk production, ethanol production, and state institutions warehousing people with disabilities when less expensive and restrictive options for them exist. The Thompson of 15 years ago was no fiscal conservative.


Bossier City needs to reject Port's all wet deal

Even as the Bossier City Council conducted a workshop over a controversial financial deal with the Port of Caddo-Bossier that resulted in some changes to the proposed deal, too many questions have been answered unsatisfactorily or left unanswered for the city to accede to the imprudent arrangement.

In essence, the Port wants to borrow $35 million to build a water distribution and wastewater treatment plant on its property as a means of attracting future tenants. It wants to hook this to Bossier City’s utilities and have the city run the facility. The terms create a rate structure where the city surrenders from it half of all revenue after expenses (both operating and capital) to the Port up to an equivalent of the bond payments’ cumulative amount, whereafter it keeps the entirety, but regardless it must pay the entire amount. It also may use the facility to distribute water and treat wastewater for its own purposes.

Understanding the recklessness of the deal is best done by asking discrete questions:


Ardoin's toughest test may topple him this time

The only Republican incumbent statewide officer driven to a runoff election in 2019, Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin will be hard-pressed to avoid that fate again this year – if he can win reelection at all.

Two GOP challengers recently made formal their entrances into the contest, both echoing similar themes that Ardoin could run elections better. Brandon Trosclair, whose previous electoral experience consists of making the runoff in a 2019 House contest, complains that electoral integrity is left wanting under Ardoin that would solve largely by reverting to more intensive ballot-counting and less reliance on outside parties for elections administration.

While the conservative Heritage Foundation ranks Louisiana highly in elections administration, sixth among the states, it also faults it mainly in accuracy of voter lists, voter identification loopholes, and the state not having a law explicitly banning private money influencing election administration. However, Ardoin’s office can’t do much about a lot of that, with it subject to state law and the whims of local registrar of voters, although around the margins verification could be improved.


Donelon deferral doesn't give Temple upper hand

With Louisiana Republican Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon opting out of a fifth full term, past and present challenger Tim Temple shouldn’t count on frontrunner status, much less triumphing this fall.

Donelon will call it quits in a not-entirely surprising move. He would have been into his eighties at term’s end and he faced a tough battle with the GOP’s Temple in 2019, who essentially never stopped running. In the meantime, his department faced increased scrutiny over a burgeoning population of the state’s property insurer of last resort that likely could have been ameliorated and a solution he backed to reduce that may not represent the best option. This recent history of departmental shortcoming wasn’t the greatest publicity surrounding a potential campaign.

Still, Donelon remained an upgrade over what Temple promises to bring. Donelon helped mitigate a streak of about half a century prior to his assuming command where nearly every of his predecessors went to jail or, in the case of his former boss Democrat Robert Wooley, vacated his post under a cloud of suspicion. Temple has been backed by Wooley, who became a lobbyist but who also lapsed into his previous activity as a campaign manager, and as well as by many of Wooley’s cronies.


Candidates must disavow Edwards' ITEP changes

Absent major tax reform addressing this concern, Louisiana’s gubernatorial candidates will need to fix a problem introduced by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards involving the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

Relatively high property taxes hamstring commercial and industrial activities in the state. Comparative data are scarce among counties across the country, but the latest version of the most comprehensive study of these rates, which takes the largest city in each state as representative of all that in most cases, Louisiana included, represents adequately the overall rate picture, New Orleans/Louisiana had the 20th highest business property tax rates but, worse, the eighth highest rate imposed on industry.

The ITEP idea seeks to attract commerce, to offset these high rates, by allowing an exemption of the entirely of the tax up to ten years. It’s cumbersome and far better ways of ensuring everybody pays their fair share exist, such through amending the Constitution to lower the homestead exemption and also eliminate the corporate income tax while reducing state dollars going to local governments, a related version of a proposal by gubernatorial candidate Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson. This could allow for junking ITEP and while this means corporate local property taxes would go up their state income taxes would go down to compensate in the aggregate.


Bossier kids find sex buffet at parish libraries

It’s bad enough that Bossier Parish’s Board of Library Control operates illegally. If legislators have their way, whether legally constituted the Board will have to institute policies that prevent minors from accessing what many parents deem age-inappropriate materials, which it currently doesn’t do and should even without legislative prodding.

SB 7 by Republican state Sen. Heather Cloud would define objectionable sexual content in library materials for minors according to First Amendment jurisprudence, create a review process for patrons requesting that judgment of the board for disputed material, give parents the option of restricting that material to their children, and would penalize noncompliant boards by negating their ability to have capital outlay bonds approved. It builds upon a report issued by Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry’s office – the same document that reaffirms that appointing police jurors as a board as the Bossier Parish Police Jury has done is illegal – that notes some books with extremely explicit written and graphic depictions of sexual activity parish libraries across Louisiana make available.

The bill wouldn’t prevent libraries from making accessible such material, only that they put policies in place that give parents the ability to prevent their children from accessing these if they wish. Many parish library systems have regimes that classify at least some materials like DVDs as not borrowable for patrons under 18, so the bill merely would extend something like that to all materials but allow younger patrons access only if parents so desire. Many also already have a review process for disputed materials.