Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
Most of us have been swept up in the momentum of the holiday season. We have passed Thanksgiving, reached the Christmas milestone and are approaching New Year’s Day, the third in the trilogy of holidays.
Sure, there is a lot of our attention on holiday shopping, football, and social events. But it is also a time to reflect of what the three holidays can mean to all of us. A second chance, and maybe even a new beginning.
A headline in several regional newspapers caught my eye. “Homeowners Insurance Rate Increases Have Slowed,” said one front page banner. I guess that’s supposed to be good news. But in my home state of Louisiana, rates have skyrocketed since 2005 — by an astounding 50%. No other state in the country has experienced such dramatic increases. And we continue to read that it’s all the fault of Katrina. There have been only a few major weather-related losses in recent years, but the rates continue to go up. There must be something rotten in Denmark. Hmmm – make that Louisiana.
Did you see the Garth Brooks televised concert at Notre Dame Stadium last week? Over 85,000 country music fans packed the South Bend football field for one of the largest concerts ever viewed. And the crowd’s biggest response, hands down, was when Brooks roamed the huge stage singing: “I spent last night in the arms of a girl in Louisiana.” It was his signature song titled Callin’ Baton Rouge. The crowd went nuts.
Have you heard the cries that Louisiana is unable to take care of its problems, and should be treated differently than other states? Some even say, OK, then — make it a protectorate of the federal government. And you know what? Maybe that isn’t too bad of an idea.
The proposal took legs recently when Froma Harrop, a nationally syndicated columnist broached the idea in print. “Louisiana has had more than its share of tragedies in recent years, and some, such as hurricane Katrina, could be deemed an act of nature. But whatever the cause, every calamity that befalls Louisiana is made worse by a corrupt civic nature. A protectorate could provide the structure of government people need.”
A ho-hum election day. That’s what Louisiana voters experienced a few weeks back. Now a runoff election is scheduled for December 8th with just a few choices for voters on the ballot. At the top of the ticket is the race to fill the void left by former Secretary of state Tom Scheduler who resigned from office under a cloud. And many political pundits and reporters were surprised over the first primary results.
The President has made illegal immigrants who have moved in to what are called “sanctuary cities a major issue in recent months, even signing an executive order cutting off funds to municipalities that ignore federal law. The Crescent City is in the forefront of ignoring federal law and protecting those there illegally.
This past Tuesday’s election stirred mediocre interest here in the Bayou State. This was the fifth election in Louisiana in 2018. And get ready for six election dates in 2019. There was a 45% turnout last week, even though voters witnessed a great deal of election hype from throughout the nation. Louisianans just were not all that enthused.
The horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead last week was, for good reason, called “the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.” It was a ghastly crime of appalling proportions. Robert Bowers is charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder and multiple counts of hate crimes. If he is convicted, as he most assuredly will be, then the death penalty would, and should, be fully justified.
Fourteen years ago this week, Derrick Todd Lee received the death penalty in Louisiana. He was the state’s most notorious and prolific serial killer. I was there in the courtroom when the verdict was handed down.
It was a cool Tuesday evening, and I was leaving a reception for former congressman Billy Tauzin at the Old State capital in downtown Baton Rouge. Billy and I had fought many battles together when we both served in the Louisiana legislature back in the 1970s. He had fought and won a separate confrontation with cancer, and a number of Billy’s friends all turned out to celebrate a full life he had led.
Special statewide elections in Louisiana are only a few weeks away. At the top of the ballot on November 6th will be an office second in line to the governorship. A number of the candidates are harping on the same theme. Each wants to be the business development voice of the state. Will the Governor let that happen? Fat chance.
The Secretary of State does have, under current law, some business duties. But the office serves primarily in that capacity as the filer and record keeper of corporations and partnerships. How can we gently say this....a glorified clerk of court. It would take a benevolent governor to turn over business development responsibility to another statewide official.
So just what should these candidates be talking about? Yes, there are some real problems to address. Here’s the list.
Voting Machines. All over the country, concerns are being raised over new electronic voting machines. Many critics say these machines are riddled with security leaks and are ripe for computer hackers to change numbers without elections officials knowing anything about it. And what abo