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Imperfect but adequate I-10 bridge deal worthy

It’s not perfect, but the deal the state signed this week to construct a toll bridge where Interstate 10 crosses the Calcasieu River has more plusses than minuses.

After legislative and state approval, the final step in a couple of weeks is for the state to have the State Bond Commission approve nearly a billion dollars in financing from its end. Throw in $225 million in federal funds, and that leaves $900 million for the private consortium Calcasieu Bridge Partners to foot the rest in the building, maintenance, and operating of it for 50 years. That construction could begin within weeks and it is anticipated will last seven years.

Throughout this interval, CBP will collect tolls to pay it back: the initial capital outlay, operating costs, and maintenance. Beyond those, 15 percent goes to the state, with the intention of plowing some or all of that back into subsidizing the tolls, which are indexed to inflation from their initial negotiated levels, with any of that not going to that purpose used for Lake Charles-area transportation projects.


New map death watch starts, but when executed?

That didn’t take long. In fact, what took so long for a challenge to come to Louisiana’s recent reapportionment attempt that probably won’t do much in the short term but could have an enormous impact long term?

Wednesday, a suit was filed against the state for its new congressional map carved into existence at the legislative special session in January. That plan deliberately created two majority-minority districts, with residents who identify at least partially as black holding narrow majorities, out of the six. It replaced a map with a single M/M district in a state where just about a third of residents identified as at least partially black that was under litigation with Middle District of Louisiana judge Shelly Dick, a Democrat former Pres. Barack Obama appointee who showed little patience for the existing map with her threatening to impose her own two M/M map as a result of a rushed ruling in 2022.

That decision became bolstered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Allen v. Milligan ruling last year, which consented to a special three-judge panel in Alabama, which had a black population of about a quarter, that determined a one-of-seven M/M plan by the state violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That ruling gave preference to race as a means of reapportionment over other principles such as compactness, contiguity, and community of interests preserved, by injecting race as something defining a community’s interest.


LA fights to expose possible Biden EPA collusion

Now we know more about why the Environmental Protection Agency last year suddenly punted on one Louisiana case trying to expand its powers beyond its legal authority, thanks to a similar case initiated by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry.

Last week, a federal district court blocked the EPA from creating rules that would allow use of disparate impact requirements in its decision-making process. This process utilizes a disparate impact study, which assesses whether proposed actions that may have differential impacts on protected classes under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and assumes foundationally that significant differences must connote racist intentions deemed illegal.

Over two decades ago the U.S. Supreme Court instructed the EPA that it couldn’t impose this requirement, but only at the tail end of the Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration did it issue a repeal. But before the rule became final, predictably the new Democrat Pres. Joe Biden EPA dropped it. Illegally imposing the rule threatens, in this instance, hundreds of millions of dollars in state grant money from the federal government because, as part of its role in approving these, EPA insists on including the language that the state must follow.


Done right, LA lowering age will reduce crime

Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s transition team studying crime and public safety issues got it right on its recommendations for dealing with juvenile crime, especially in adjusting how and when juveniles should face adult sanctioning.

Statistics in Louisiana capturing juvenile criminal behavior are incomplete and difficult to corral, but it appears that this has increased in frequency over the past few years. In some other jurisdictions with similar treatment under the law and more complete data, such as New York City, confirm such an increase.

The report on this subject, released last week and which echoes without the detail of a previous one from the attorney general’s office when Landry headed that, concludes “Soft on crime philosophies have failed, allowing the juvenile crime crisis to spiral out of control.” It recommends various measures to compensate such as mandating certain minimum penalties, introducing probation and parole as options, and transparency in releasing juvenile correctional information that can lead to more appropriate reactions to change miscreant behavior.


Landry challenged again by climate craziness

Republican Gov. Jeff Landry scored a final success going out the door as Louisiana’s attorney general, but an even greater challenge from climate craziness has reared its ugly head.

Landry proved a reliable champion against climate alarmism in his two terms as attorney general, which mainly featured battles against the overreach of Democrat Pres. Joe Biden. Usually, these incidents affected the state as part of the broad collective of states and not directly targeted at Louisiana. Democrat former Gov. John Bel Edwards also is a climate alarmist, but he couldn’t do much to spread the infection into state government with little support from the Legislature and Public Service Commission, and what little he could do Landry already has started to reverse.

However, a recent Biden Administration action that ultimately could threaten national security delivered direct punch at Louisiana. Last week, the Department of Energy said it wouldn’t approve indefinitely permits for liquified natural gas exportation to countries not part of free trade agreements with the U.S., pending a review of factors that go into that decision-making. The guidance is five years old and, according to Biden, doesn’t take into account the alleged “climate crisis” built upon weak-to-nonexistent confirmatory data.