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Landry signals realistic climate policy ahead

The hits just keep coming from Louisiana’s governor-elect, signaling major and welcome changes from the policy path of the current chief executive.

Yesterday, Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry announced that he would appoint Aurelia Skipworth Giacommetto as head of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. Giacommetto served as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Republican Pres. Donald Trump, is trained as a biologist and lawyer and has extensive experience working in the chemical and public policy areas. As with all gubernatorial appointees prior to receiving Senate confirmation, she will retain the job unless the Senate doesn’t vote to confirm her by the end of its 2024 regular session.

The choice will discomfit the political left, because Trump! In its bizarre worldview, anybody or anything having to do with Trump not only is a terrible thing for mankind, it’s entirely illegitimate within the American political system. That’s why it has loathed Landry, who Trump likes, and this selection likely will be the first of many to work it into a lather.


End minority party committee head practice

With the accession of both legislative chamber leaders for the 2024-28 term of the Louisiana Legislature now settled, a question of whether to retain the practice of granting minority party members committee chairmanships is up for debate – and change.

This practice almost no other state follows. A few here and there will place a minority party member at the head of a temporary committee, or perhaps give one a vice chairman’s slot. Some allow for minority reports to be issued about legislation. But in today’s era, the only states that appear to do this (absent special situations where party representation in a chamber is even between the two major parties, or Nebraska’s unicameral/nonpartisan organ) are Louisiana and Texas.

Texas legislators appear to be making a conscious effort to back away from the process. This year, its Senate Republican leadership shed the last minority member who had been a chairman, while its House Republican leadership reduced its number to eight of 34 standing committees, and a deliberate emphasis to shunt Democrats as chairman to low-profile panels. Texas has small GOP majorities in each chamber at present.


BC Council wise to delay questionable renewal

The Bossier City Council’s decision to allow plenty of time to vet a propose four-year extension of its public-private partnership with Manchac Consulting appears wiser than ever as more details and analysis emerge about it – all of which buttresses the case that competitive bidding take place to manage city most engineering, public works, and utilities functions.

Last week, the Council stalled an attempt to begin the process of considering the no-bid extension. As originally cued, the Council could have signed off on a rate representing an increase of 50 percent over the deal that started in mid-2021, or $195,000 monthly, as early as Nov. 21. Instead, it will deal with the deal at the beginning of 2024, about three weeks prior to the agreement automatically extending for the existing three years at $169,000 monthly, starting mid-2024.

The extra time will give the city time to work through some issues, beginning with city ordinance allowing for only a three-year maximum on the life of a contract. However, state law allows local governments to use five years as a maximum, and as state law takes precedence over ordinance, the city could violate its ordinance and still have a legal contract as long as it doesn’t span more than five years. When the city initiated the arrangement in 2016, which then only covered utilities, it was for five years, and when it renewed in 2021, incorporating previous amendments and adding others, a three-year term was used after initially setting it at another five and a whopping increase to more than $303,000 per month that the Council quickly yanked.


Call extra session in 2024 before court deadline

Louisiana’s reapportionment saga rumbles on, now with the politics of electoral succession mixed in.

Last week, after the U.S. Supreme Court the previous month had ruled a district court that originally at the behest of special interests had ruled invalid the state’s latest congressional reapportionment had moved too fast to impose an alternative, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel drew up a calendar for state action on the matter. It said the state had to come up with a new map by Jan. 15, although the “district court will also have discretion to grant limited additional time if requested,” or else then a redraw would fall to that court.

This creates an interesting political timeline. Jan. 8 will turn over a new Legislature and install Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry as governor. An extraordinary session would be required, since the regular session won’t convene until mid-March. There’s general agreement that the new batch of elected officials should handle the matter, as they will have to deal with the aftermath of anything that happens as a result of any actions, or inaction, taken.