Another spring, another special session.
Is it the sixth since Governor John Bel Edwards took over from Bobby Jindal? Like Sally Bowes sang in Cabaret, "maybe this time"?
As the Louisiana regular session comes to an abrupt close this week, the special session focused upon a gaping $650 million hole, begins Tuesday. After two successive shoo shoos fiscal sessions meant to make up the difference in what the state spent this year and what it has money to spend next year, it is hard to be very confident that a solution will come at hand.
Our Louisiana Legislature loves to pass laws that restrict the behavior of the residents of our state. This increases the power of the “Nanny State” government and also brings in needed revenue for bureaucracies.
The latest effort is a bill to ban the use of a handheld cell phone in a vehicle. The bill will lead to a large fine on the first offense and an even larger one on the next offense.
Is Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards being fair or is he "over the top", scaring seniors with potential "kick-you-out-of-nursing-homes" letters as a result of the budget standoff with the Republican House of Representatives? And why scare seniors, Governor Edwards, have you sent out contract-reduction letters to the Saints and the Pelicans?
Louisiana legislature elections are approaching. A large segment of those legislators who have served the state will be term limited. Is that program, started by David Vitter when he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, really a good idea, albeit, its popularity? Do legislators vote their conscience or the the positions of their constituency?
Also, what role does polling play during the Louisiana legislative session?
Yesterday, we posted part one of an interview of lobbyist Mary Patricia Wray. In that segment, she talked about the difficulties legislators are having this session. They are overworked and underpaid. They are stressed and combative. In fact, things are so bad that according to other sources, the legislators might not pass a budget until after the fiscal year begins. For Louisiana, that would be an extraordinary non-accomplishment, never been done. But, this is the Louisiana legislature, one year from elections.
Is medical marijuana the next Louisiana boondoggle? The current Louisiana legislature seems bent on pushing through extended legislation that enlarges the number of medical conditions marijuana is supposed to treat. And even though the use of marijuana for any purpose, medical or recreational, is specifically prohibited under federal law, the legislature seems hell-bent on opening up the floodgates for any number of medical conditions.
The 2018 vintage of the Louisiana legislature has been in session now since February 19 2018. Initially, it met in an extraordinary fiscal session called by Governor John Bel Edwards to grapple with the then-one billion dollar budget shortfall. That two week endeavor ended in failure. Essentially nothing was passed.
Legislators being in session for essentially the first half of each year for the past series of springs has become a regular occurence, primarily due to major budgetary issues. The individual lawmakers are tired. Nerves are frayed. The everyday grind focuses upon minutia. They are underpaid. And perhaps worse of all, nothing seems to be getting done. Bills are getting killed.
Refreshed embarrassment has come the way of Louisiana’s Republican Sec. of State Tom Schedler, and perhaps it’s more appropriate that he be ushered out the door rather than hoping he’ll do it himself anytime soon.
Christopher Tidmore essentially calls it a game of legislative chicken. Which is what the House, the Senate and the Governor appear to be playing this Louisiana legislative session with the budget. In a recent interview with the political columnist for the Louisiana Weekly and radio talk show host, Tidmore and with JMC Polling and Analytics, John Couvillon, the lawmakers must somehow fill a still-gaping hole in which House Republicans have basically taken taxes off the table after passing a budget protecting the popular TOPS program while shortchanging the health care and higher education vital services.