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Left starts quest to delay defective map death

The legal gymnastics have begun for the political left to delay the inevitable long enough to seat an extra Democrat into Congress from Louisiana for 2024.

Just days after a number of Louisianans sued over the state’s new congressional map, arguing that it violated the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution, the special interests behind the litigation that had encouraged the Legislature in special session to produce that map attempted a pair of legal maneuvers to slow the new case’s progress. One, filed in the Western District where the new case Callais v. Landry resides, alleges that the same deep-pocketed national interests that bankrolled and provided the primary legal assistance to the plaintiffs in the case against the old districts should be enrolled as defendants along with the state of Louisiana. The other, filed in the Middle District with the same judge Shelly Dick who has presided over the original consolidated Robinson v. Landry and Galmon v. Landry cases, tries to transfer the new case to her jurisdiction.

The reasons given are essentially the same. The motion to intervene comes under a claim that the issues argued in the new and the old cases are similar enough, but that the state, even as it has been defendant both times, is switching sides on arguments and so need involved the plaintiffs-now-defendants who have maintained the same argument. The motion to transfer asserts because of the supposed similarity the judge who handled the old case should try to new one.


Initial Landry budget must curb govt growth

Later this week, Republican Gov. Jeff Landry will present his first budget to the Legislature, in an environment of future looming deficits that needs to recognize that spending, not revenues, are the problem.

Earlier this month, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget received a forecast of revenues and expenditures for the current and next three budget years, assuming continued trends in revenue and spending, adjusted by known changes in each. It predicts this fiscal year will produce a $91 million surplus, but then next year will see a $64 million deficit, followed by much larger ones of $559 million, $614 million, and $773 million.

In response to this data, Landry issued an executive order to take immediate action to reduce spending where possible. It certainly was a refreshing change from his predecessor Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, who in similar circumstances would jawbone for more revenues.


Landry natural resources order beneficial

A little-noticed act from last year has helped to facilitate Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s request to increase efficiency in how Louisiana handles its natural resources, including the possibility that tens of billions of dollars will be spent more wisely over the coming decades.

The new law changed, as of last month, the name of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources by adding the “Energy” designation. It also added some structure to it that will provide some guardrails for a request by executive order Landry made last week to reorganize natural resources functions from three separate affiliated agencies and over a dozen independent commissions into the defined functions of the department.

This law empowers Landry to solicit changes from the department, with the first report due at the end of the month and all wrapped up by the end of July. Likely some legislation will come forth concerning this for the year’s regular legislative session to begin Mar. 11 and to end Jun. 3. Likely many of the entities listed in the order will be folded into DENR management, the new law and text of the order suggests.


LA left flails in defending defective map

Louisiana’s political left finds itself in a pickle as it seeks to defend the indefensible new congressional map, with its members already signaling they have nothing up to snuff.

Within days of the special session last month to redraw the plan under the threat of a federal court potentially to do the same, voters across the state filed suit to invalidate it. The map substantially reorganizes boundaries of the northeast-to-central, northwest and western, and Baton Rouge-to-the-southern-coast districts, most prominently creating a district acting as a dagger into Shreveport with the handle slicing up Lafayette and Baton Rouge. In the process, the new map manages except for Bossier City to crack every major city in the state between various districts.

It was, in words repeated on the record often by its legislative supporters, designed deliberately with race in mind to create two majority-minority districts to avoid a court from doing that. They didn’t mention that it destroys communities of interest, violating one criterion of reapportionment accepted in statute and the courts, and that it measures out similarly to a district in a plan determined unconstitutional three decades ago for those reasons.


BC charter review initially seems unserious

Last week at the Bossier City Council meeting, the head of its and Republican Mayor Tommy Chandler’s appointed Charter Review Commission Preston Friedley reported on his panel’s activities and solicited input from councilors on changes. How – if – they respond to that will determine whether the constructed body actually carries out the task envisioned for it in the city charter or if it exists merely as a dog-and-pony show with ulterior political motives.

The Commission has met twice and addressed organizational considerations. It has set up an aggressive schedule of meetings throughout February and intends to toss in some public forums as well. That in and of itself indicates its use as a political tool to preserve the power of a small number of city insiders.

Its creation came in the context of a petition drive to put a three-term lifetime limit into the Charter. The drive succeeded, but has become hung up over legal minutiae initiated at the behest of the four graybeard councilors – Republicans David Montgomery and Jeff Free, Democrat Bubba Williams, and no party Jeff Darby – all of whom would be disbarred from running for reelection next year if the petitions (one covering councilor service, the other the mayor’s) make it onto the Nov. 5 or Dec. 7 ballots and receive majority voter approval – plus GOP rookie Councilor Vince Maggio. On at least three out of four occasions each of the five has refused – illegally, according to the Charter which states they must approve for the ballot a petition certified by the registrar of voters as the pair were – to do that.