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Two M/M map headed for binning gets reprieve

Maybe it shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise, if the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will use Callais v. Landry to reduce the prominence race has in reapportionment.

This week, the Court stayed an order by a three-judge panel that declared the congressional map that Louisiana had enacted earlier this year was unconstitutional. That means that this plan, which adds a majority-minority district to the single one in the 2022 map that was subject to litigation then statutorily replaced by this one, will be used for elections this fall.

The panel appeared poised to issue its own map for use if the Legislature, which it would not have, had acted to draw a remedial map prior to its adjournment Jun. 3. By definition, it could not be the invalidated map, and any other options but the revoked 2022 map or something extremely close to it could not have been implemented in time by the state’s Department of State. In fact, although in the case of that preliminarily enjoined map State argued it needed by the end of May, 2022 to have a map to run the subsequent election, this time it declared May 15 was the cutoff despite the very similar situations.


Make better case for LA public records reform

In an unfortunate case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, some desirable changes to Louisiana public records laws face deferral due to adverse, if not in some ways undeserved, critiques of them.

Several bills addressing the subject the Legislature perused this session. Among them, SB 423 by Republican state Sen. Jay Morris originally would have limited records requests to Louisianans; SB 482 by GOP state Sen. Heather Cloud would shield the governor’s and his family’s schedule if safety is a concern and would exempt advisory and deliberative communications; and SB 502 by Republican state Sen. Blake Miguez would require that an actual Louisiana citizen be verified as making a request. A later iteration of SB 423 essentially would have combined these elements.

It's important to note that in terms of breadth Louisiana has one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching open records laws among the states. Many restrict coverage to certain branches or levels while Louisiana shields only parts for each. Often these restrictions go much further than Louisiana’s; for example, a number of states exempt the advisory and deliberative processes. That, in fact, is the approach taken for the most part by the federal government and most recently was strengthened by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Landry must stop harmful ganja legislation

The Louisiana Legislature seems on the way to compounding a mistake it began making years ago, with perhaps only Republican Gov. Jeff Landry able at this point to prevent that.

From the start in 2015, medical use of marijuana in Louisiana began with dubious premises and has gotten worse since. Since then, almost every control over it has disappeared, step by step by step, so now basically any doctor or nurse practitioner can “recommend” it in any form for any ailment in quantities and often enough to keep one high or to distribute some, whether exchanged for something of value, to others. About the only bottleneck is the limit of dispensaries to 10 (currently nine in operation although since 2022 they have been able to open “satellite” locations that make for 15 physical locations), but they can deliver as well.

So, it’s practically legalized such is the ease of obtaining it. But there’s another legal avenue for addicts added in the past couple of years – hemp products, courtesy of an ill-constructed law that allowed for excessive concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol that have become so egregiously obvious that the Legislature actually may rein in these products in permitting much lower concentrations.


Redirect spending to support early child ed

This time, presumed conservative supermajorities in the state Legislature need to act like it and not spend just because they can.

With projections of state spending coming in a bit more flush that previously predicted – about $88 million more this current fiscal year and $197 million for the next – plans are afoot on what to do with it. One suggestion has been to restore all current state spending on early childhood education, which at this point is budgeted at $24 million fewer.

A few years ago, legislators set up a fund to entice matching dollars from local governments to dole out to families with child care expenses. Although the law creating the program to draw from the fund cast a wide eligibility net, subsequent rules issued by the fund’s overseer the Department of Education essentially steer most of the money, and encourages all of it, to go to the lowest-income households with preschool-and-younger children for use at better-quality licensed child care facilities.