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Musical chairs on for LA statewide offices

As gubernatorial candidates line up in Louisiana, a musical chairs game has broken out for other constitutional offices.

At the beginning of the year, a historic three such officers perhaps had the state’s top job in their sights. Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry already had made official his intention for it, and days later GOP Treas. John Schroder joined him. However, Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser passed in favor of seeking his current post again.

In doing so, Nungesser initially pitted himself against GOP former Rep. John Fleming, who had announced formally for the job last year. That augured an interesting matchup, as a number of Republicans and conservatives had become disenchanted with Nungesser’s playing political footsie with Democrats like Gov. John Bel Edwards and his opposition to party-building efforts such as instituting closed primary elections for some or all contests in the state. By contrast, Fleming has impeccable conservative credentials, although the office has little ideological policy content in its administration.


Opposing subsidy may launch Peacock revival

Bossier Parish state legislators were disproportionately critical of a plan to spend $45 million in the hopes of lowering property insurance rates, with one in particular perhaps using that opposition as part of a road to political redemption.

Last week, the Louisiana Legislature met in special session to deal with a discrete item: funding a program designed to subsidize insurers to come into and write for years property insurance policies. This hopes to stimulate artificially, using surplus dollars from this year’s budget, competition that could drive rates down and offer a choice to homeowners currently having to acquire their insurance through Louisiana Citizens, the state-run (thus taxpayer-backed) insurer of last resort obligated to charge significantly higher rates. The 2020 and 2021 hurricane seasons sent an unusual amount of damaging storms to the state’s shore, sending insurers fleeing or bankrupting them that left policy-holders in the lurch at levels last seen after the hurricane disasters of 2005.

Overwhelming majorities in each chamber went with the plan, which proponents argued had to happen now in order for the possibility of lower rates to appear by the start of storm season. However, there were nine total dissenters to transferring the money, three of whom represent parts of Bossier. Of course, few homeowners in the parish would have properties uninsurable to the point that Citizens would have to step in.


Caddo Democrats' power play starting to pay off

And now we know at least part of the political agenda Democrats on the Caddo Parish Commission had on their minds when they muscled onto it a Democrat replacement in a thoroughly Republican district earlier this year.

This week, the panel will present reapportionment alternatives for parish residents to view. In the near future, it will vote on lines for fall elections and for 2027 as well.

We think the near future. That’s because the Commission already violated the parish charter (as well as its own articulated criteria for reapportionment, although that was a work session document and not formally passed as a resolution) when it failed to make its deadline of completing that work by the end of last year, even as it held public meetings for input to the process months earlier. Of course, the clock is ticking on finishing the process with qualifying for offices Aug. 8 but with a deadline about a month earlier to start signature-gathering for petitions to qualify.


LA must grab tax-cutting, growth opportunity

With $2.26 billion in surplus dollars from last year’s budget and foreseen for this year’s and the next, Louisiana has a chance to jumpstart its economy, following through from the double-edged sword impact of out-of-control Washington spending.

Last month, the state figured it closed out fiscal year 2022 with $727 million more collected than anticipated. A quarter of this is spoken for by the Budget Stabilization Fund and another tenth must go to paying down a portion of the state’s unfunded accrued liabilities, and the rest can go to specified nonrecurring functions including those. A good strategy here would put the nearly $473 million (perhaps a bit less, depending upon another statutory interpretation) towards paying down more of the latter, which would reduce costs to local education agencies that they could use, for example, for pay raises.

As for the $925 million appertaining to this year, $45 million went in the just-finished special session to entice insurers, and the state still owes the federal government $300 million for past flood protection efforts, although it hopes to have this waived. Assuming it doesn’t, for the remainder one advisable strategy would be to bank it for the upcoming FY 2026 sales tax hike roll-off that, according to the state’s forecast, will result in $550 million lower sales tax revenue compared to FY 2025.


DeSoto Jury has chance to fix deficient plan

At a committee meeting this week and then later this month, the DeSoto Parish Police Jury must do the right and legal thing and fix its malapportioned districts even if it causes heartburn for incumbents.

Last year, the Jury reapportioned itself but in a way the judiciary almost certainly would find unconstitutional. Population changes that left the parish almost the same according to the 2020 census but with a surge in the northern Shreveport exurbs and decline around Mansfield weren’t accounted for adequately in its enacted plan, which didn’t differ much from existing lines. It left northern districts overpopulated and other districts underpopulated in amounts that existing jurisprudence finds highly suspicious without extenuating circumstances.

Although the arguments for this deviation have changed, the latest has lit on incumbent protection – lines that don’t change each juror’s district much to provide continuity of representation – as the rationale. Under normal circumstances that would be a heavy lift, assigning so much importance to avoiding at least one pair or more of incumbents facing off in a new district for reelection as to induce malapportionment, or having districts with widely varying populations that is unconstitutional.