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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.