Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
There were several gatherings at the state capitol in Baton Rouge last week. Former legislators gathered for their annual reunion to catch up on old friendships and reminisce about past legislative accomplishments. And the few living delegates from the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention were honored for their service as talk of a new convention was being debated in the capitol halls. One theme ran through both gatherings. Why aren’t problems being solved? Why so little cooperation? Where is the vision?
Fifty years ago this weekend, the focus of the Vietnam war dramatically changed. Many Americans were skeptical of why the war was necessary. There were scattered reports of American soldiers killing innocent civilians. But some would argue bad things can happen during wartime, and that’s the price a nation must pay. Then came My Lai.
The Louisiana Legislature just completed a “do nothing” session that proved to be a stalemate towards solving the state’s financial crisis. A new regular session has begun with few signs that anything substantive will come about. By law, no new tax matters can be considered in this even numbered year. So what’s the problem in getting some cooperative effort?
One million dollars down the drain to pay for a special session of the Louisiana legislature. And all for naught. The Governor is hollering that the financial sky is falling and the state is in dire fiscal straights. Legislators protest that their hands are tied by too many constitutional dedications. And since there is little appetite for trimming the budget, the legislature now begins its regular gathering at the state capitol with a shortfall of over one billion dollars.
It’s springtime, my favorite time of year. The weather warms up without a lot of humidity. Flowers bloom at their very best. It’s the season of my birthday. If you live in Louisiana, we witness music festivals galore, including Mardi Gras, JazzFest and a host of local harmonic gatherings of local bands all over the state. And one more springtime reminder. It’s the beginning of baseball season.
With an increasing number of mass shootings in recent months, we are urged by law enforcement officials to keep an eye out. Report anything suspicious. “If you see something, say something” we are regularly told. The problem is, that in too many instances, the alarms raised by concerned citizens are falling on deaf ears.
In the current competition to land a new Amazon second North American headquarters, Louisiana pulled out all stops. It would have been quite a coup for a Louisiana location to land this big prize with some 50,000 new jobs to the winner. But from the beginning, the Bayou State never had a chance.
The president last week suggested that the nation establish a yearly military parade to honor the service and the sacrifice of the current military and our veterans. He spoke of it as “a unifying moment for the country.” Almost immediately, the Trump naysayers jumped all over the idea as nothing more than “pandering patriotism.” “Tanks, but no tanks,” was the opinion of the Washington Post.
It’s been a bad last few weeks for the nation’s top law enforcement agency. First, an innocent hostage was shot and killed in a botched raid in Houston by an FBI shooter. Then the television movie series “Waco,” debuted and revisited the FBI killings of innocent victims in both Ruby Ridge and Waco. And currently, the Bureau faces charges by members of congress of malfeasance and even interfering in the most recent president election.
ouisiana has one of the worst insurance regulatory environments in the nation. That is according to Washington-based conservative think tank R Street Institute in its 2017 Insurance Regulation Report Card just issued. And no, it’s not because of the trial lawyers or the big insurance companies. The blame is laid directly on the Louisiana legislature. In ranking states across the country, Louisiana was given an F.