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Strike should spur LA film tax credit reform

A stroke of good luck for Louisiana taxpayers, the strike by writers and actors of motion picture and television productions can be leveraged even more for the state’s citizens to avoid the bad consequences of its poorly-conceived Motion Picture Investors Tax Credit.

First writers, then actors began the strike starting over three months ago. This brought largely to a halt an already slowing production of movies and series, whether shown in theaters, on broadcast television, cable television, streaming over the Internet, or in podcast form, although some films in progress actor members have been allowed to complete. Anticipation of a strike as early as late last year had prompted ratcheting down production, so as not to have things interrupted if a strike occurred. To work with a network or major studio (which comprise most of the business; for example, the top ten studios in movie box office receipts for last year collected seven-eighths of all revenues), writers and actors must be a member of their respective unions.

The main issue in both cases is revenue-sharing. The rapid growth in streaming particularly has exposed that prior compensation models didn’t account for this, leading members to demand a greater share of the pie from that. Both also want more control over the use of artificial intelligence in story writing and actor likenesses. Writers additionally want retainer pay for stretches that they don’t work.


Sketchy school rule needs change, if not ending

While voters may have little chance to assess Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members’ decision about awarding high school diplomas to students who don’t pass state exams to graduate, they will be able to comment on the emergent policy – for however long it lasts.

This spring, BESE narrowly approved an appeals policy for such students without exceptionalities, who otherwise wouldn’t graduate. All three of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ appointees, who highly unlikely will return next year, plus Republican Holly Boffy and Democrats Kira Orange Jones, who face term limits, and Preston Castille voted in favor. Thus, only District 8 voters will have the chance to hold a member accountable, as Castille has given no indication he won’t run for reelection.

Most states don’t have end-of-studies exams students must pass to graduate, and of those that do they have an appeals process. These tests in Louisiana apply only to English, mathematics, and one of biology or (starting in academic year 2024) civics.


BESE elections to affect reform momentum

With high-profile statewide and legislative election on tap this fall, Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education contests have flown somewhat under the radar, but whose outcomes will determine whether education reforms continue to advance.

Eight of the 11 slots are up for four-year terms, with the remaining three members chosen by the governor in coterminous fashion. Shaping BESE for the first time is term limits of three, which started counting beginning with the results of 2011 elections and will dispatch Republicans James Garvey and Holly Boffy and Democrat Kira Orange Jones. Additionally, GOP rookie member Ashley Ellis will defer. All other incumbents appear to be running for reelection.

Republican state Rep. Lance Harris has raised his hand to replace Ellis, with her blessing. Harris has an extensive track record in legislating on education issues, and very much in line with expanding school choice and accountability. His HB 98 this past regular session would have created a money-follow-the-student system that in large degree would replicate the open enrollment model used in Orleans Parish schools, plus create flexibility for families to embrace nonpublic education.


Cassidy endorsement says more about himself

Forget the record haul of campaign cash, the polling numbers consistently making him the front runner, or the avalanche of endorsements that Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry has racked up in his quest to become the state’s next governor. The most significant indicator of impending success in his campaign just flashed while telling us more about another state politician.

This week, GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy gave his official seal of approval to Landry’s bid. In a social media post, he cited clamor for Landry helming the state and policy congruence on issues of flood insurance pricing, coastal restoration, and access to mental health services as his reasons for choosing Landry over four other decently-funded Republicans, all of whom trail Landry badly in donation amounts and polling numbers.

A high-profile blessing can’t hurt Landry’s prospects, although at first glance it seems like an odd paring. Landry has become known, and popular in Louisiana, because of his unapologetic conservatism that he invokes in head-on clashes with Democrats and liberals from which not only does he not shy away, but he instigates when provoked, such as the series of legal actions he has helped to launch against a number of Democrat Pres. Joe Biden actions, emulating similar challenges to executive overreach committed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. In most of these legal conflicts, Landry’s side has prevailed.


BC posers avoiding voting against term limits

Careers are on the line as various Bossier City officials try to spin their way out making their opposition to term limits look anything but, with the clock working against them and a City Council meeting looming this week.

At its last meeting, the Council, led by graybeard councilors Republicans David Montgomery and Jeff Free, Democrat Bubba Williams, and no party Jeff Darby plus GOP rookie Vince Maggio, refused to tee up an ordinance to place a three-term limit, proactively and retroactively, on city elected officials on the next-available statewide ballot for charter amending. All but Maggio, if such a ballot item succeeded, could not serve ever again as a councilor.

Instead, they approved a resolution by City Attorney Charles Jacobs to seek outside counsel, using taxpayer dollars, to judge whether the procedure to amend the charter is valid. As part of the process, Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler indicated that he “recommended” the resolution, rather than marking “noted.”