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Keep LA away from flawed ranked choice voting

A Louisiana Senate panel has sent on its way to needed passage a bill emulating law in several states that will help to ensure more coherent governance and more faithful translation of aggregate voter preferences.

SB 101 by Republican state Sen. Blake Miguez would prohibit ranked choice voting (RCV) for any election in Louisiana (save votes cast by military personnel overseas as by federal law in order to provide an “instant runoff”). There are many varieties to the concept, but basically it involves an electoral structure where all candidates by or regardless of party affiliation (if any) run together in an initial or only election, and then lower-ranking candidates are eliminated in either vote computation or by ballot redistribution.

Louisiana with its blanket primary actually uses a very diluted form of this. The initial general election eliminates all but two candidates by vote computation where the two highest then compete in a runoff election, unless one candidate receives a majority.


End traffic laws more money grabs than for safety

Finally, Louisiana has a real chance to end a pair of burdensome laws dealing with vehicle operation that masquerade as safety measures but in reality exist primarily to fatten government coffers.

In 2017, then 2019, then 2020, and now this year Republican state Rep. Larry Bagley has tried to alter, if not jettison, non-commercial periodic vehicle inspections except in cases where federal law requires it for air pollution controls. This year’s HB 344 does that. Some states don’t require any inspections, while about two-thirds enforce an emissions check at some point, mostly at transfer. Few follow Louisiana’s model by asking for full safety checks.

That makes sense, given the considerable advances in vehicle safety and that public safety officers still will have the authority to cite motorists driving in visibly unsafe vehicles (inspections only address these items). The only real beneficiaries of the state’s current testing regime are the state and contracted testers, who rake $10 a year off owners for the exercise (and some testers merely go through the motions anyway).


4 years in, recall LA pandemic villains, heroes

Four years ago, the largest single mistake in U.S. public health history began its commencement, leaving former Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to manufacture the most unsavory portion of his legacy, along with others.

With a paucity of information about the Wuhan coronavirus in mid-March, 2020, it’s difficult to fault the extreme steps taken initially over the next few months. These comprised of closing schools, closing of all but the smallest public gatherings, restricting commercial activities, and requiring social distancing including face coverings.

Yet within three months it had become clear enough that much of this was or had been ineffective. Because the virus was quite selective in who got hit hardest – those with co-morbidities, followed by the elderly – the overwhelming majority of the public, and especially children, would face no more than an inconvenient respiratory virus of relatively short duration. In this time span, it became clear that these punitive measures Edwards imposed for the vast majority cost much more than any benefits that might accrue – learning and developmental loss among children, tremendous economic dislocation, and assaults on personal liberties.


Landry address brings welcome new tone, ideas

What a breath of fresh air Republican Gov. Jeff Landry brought to Louisiana with his first State of the State Address.

Over the past eight years, Democrat former Gov. John Bel Edwards used these annual opportunities to harangue Louisianans, telling them through a litany of bad policy preferences drawing his rhetorical support that they had to shape up by doing this, that, or the other – and whatever these things were, they were not appealing to our better instincts, but delivered as orders from an overseer to his chattel with government-centric options leading the way. Orwellian language abounded, with tax increases termed as “revenue enhancements,” increased spending as “investments,” and depopulation, declining job numbers, and more able-bodied adults sitting out the labor force as markers of economic success.

By great contrast, Landry’s maiden address discussed how government was to facilitate individuals’ abilities to enrich their life prospects by reserving its activities to its proper sphere. While he didn’t go into details, he drew upon a governing philosophy alien to the liberal populism of Edwards and his predecessors spanning nearly a previous century – keeping the citizenry safe from deviant human behavior and the vagaries of nature (by using evidence-based approaches), building and maintaining cost-effective and value-driven infrastructure, providing economic incentives that lead to people making choices for productive behavior that contributes to improving society’s overall well-being, and limiting redistribution of what government takes from producers only to those whose physical circumstances or paucity of innate abilities or whom have suffered genuine bad luck, who cannot contribute in that fashion.

Preferring to draw upon broader themes with strategic use of data to support his views, he drew attention to three policy areas, all of which exemplified his approach that in policy-making government should empower people by not empowering itself. In elementary and secondary education, which he identified as the prequel to economic improvement, noting how the state ranks lowly (among the bottom ten) while spending more per pupil than many states, he advocated for a diminution of the government monopoly model that narrows families’ educational options, constrains teachers, and encourages faddish orthodoxies at the expense of real learning. He backed education savings accounts, where money follows the student, and enhancing choice as the means by which to accomplish this transformation.

Landry also commented upon the state’s stifling approach to occupational licensing, calling upon streamlining and jettisoning unnecessary rules. The state regulates more jobs than any other state (as well as making it difficult to transfer licenses from elsewhere) and according to one watchdog organization in overall terms ranks sixth most onerous. And, he emphasized that the state’s property insurance struggles could be solved through lifting unnecessarily burdensome regulation.

However, Landry sees the degree of corrective state policy as beyond statute. In addition to these policy preferences, he also called upon the Legislature to establish parameters for a constitutional convention next year, a document he sees as too protective of certain special interests that needlessly complicates and constricts governing.

As well, Landry noted how some quarters – read leftists and Democrats whose rearguard actions over the past two decades to preserve liberal populism in governance have been breached in 2024’s first two months with the crevasse ever widening – complained that his policy changes, by executive action and legislative agreement, supposedly moved too quickly, to which he had an answer: when so far behind (implying that these forces had caused that), you had to run faster to catch up.

Landry appears to have recognized from the moment of his early general election win two important things about executive success: move quickly and use a big majority, which he had at the polls and has in the Legislature, to make big changes. Whatever momentum loss he may have experienced from the first reapportionment special session that disgruntled some of his GOP legislative allies by having to inflict a partisan loss upon their party, he regained quickly in the second special session focusing on crime solutions. His address presaged more big moves to come, and more heartburn for his ideological opponents.