On Monday, we start a new legislative session in Louisiana. The last time, legislators met in Baton Rouge for a sesson--that one, just this week, ended up in a resounding thud. After roughly two weeks of hearings, meetings, negotiating, the legislature left empty handed.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards blamed the House Republicans and the Speaker of the House. The Republicans blame the governor and the black caucus.
On the right or conservative side, one can hear complaints from Republicans across the state, licking their collective chops, looking forward to the 2019 replacement of the current Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards. They also have been furious at the black caucus for moving the goal posts, as the conservatives called it. On the left, there are grumblings too. However, the target of those are directed to the Republican Speaker of the House, Taylor Barras.
For sure, there was a communication breakdown that led to the lack of trust.
Earlier this week,Tyler Bridges, reporter for The Advocate, via Facebook LIve, discussed his view as to what occurred during the most-recent legislative session that went nowhere.
Here is a short excerpt of his comments:
BRIDGES: Well I think ultimately that's what it came down into in the State House the climactic moment I think in this special session just concluded was Sunday night when the Democrats wanted to take up their bill first with just House Bill 8, which would have limited something called excess itemized deductions to people who on their federal tax return itemize, and it would have taken away a tax break that really would have affected people who earn, almost entirely what affected people who earn at least $200,000 per year. And that would have raised 79 million dollars--is the, with this nine hundred and ninety four million dollar shortfall.
Republicans though, in the House, insisted on taking up a sales tax bill House Bill 23 that would have renewed 1/4 of the 1 cent sales tax increase that is expiring on June 30th and and the Republican sponsor of the bill was told by Democrats and even by one Republican hey if you move forward with this bill it's not going to pass, can we do HB 8 first? And the Republican sponsor said no and then the bill went down with only 33 votes and it needed 70.
And the Republicans, I think ,it had just had it up too and they told me later, I kind of have had it up - up to here--and what they felt were excessive demands by Democrats particularly members of the legislative Black Caucus. And that they felt like they had given enough in their negotiations and then the Democrats from their point of view felt like they had to move forward with their bill first because they weren't certain that the Republicans would pass it if the Republican bill first passed, so it's clearly a lack of trust on both sides.
One commentator believes there is reason to believe the Speaker of the House, Barras, should absorb virtually all of the blame. He also cites an editorial in the Advocate by Melissa Flourney calling for the resignation of the Speaker. That commentator, progressive blogger and publisher of the Bayou Brief, Lamar White Jr., appears to agree with Flourney and claims that it is time for new leadership at that key House spot.
Below is an excerpt of the Facebook Live discussion with White. Also below is the video. This segment begins at the 3 minute, 29 second mark of the Youtube video below.
SABLUDOWSKY: We just got finished with what I consider to be somewhat of a failure of a special session a fiscal session we'refalling off the cliff some people say, some people have said we're inching towards following off,so what's your take on it
WHITE:Well I agree with Dr. Melissa Flourney who wrote an op-ed today onThe Advocate saying that we need to that the speaker Taylor bara should resign I think that this last session sort of proved a failure of leadership in the Republican Party, and there are enough votes among Republicans moderate Republicans and Democrats to get us off of this precipice. What we saw in the last session was just an embarrassment and a failure of leadership. So I don't think we're gonna arrive at any solution unless the Republican Party changes its leadership and we start changing some of the committee assignments.
SABLUDOWSKy: It's really, that that's amazing that she actually said, that wrote tha-- I should say--
SABLUDOWSKY: Now I think the Republican Party disagrees in terms of who to blame
WHITE: Well I'm actually not as convinced by that, I think there are a number of Republicans--you know, a lot of them off the record of course who would agree with that assessment and we saw in the last session, several different Republican legislators come up into the well and speak about the failure of their own party to compromise Barry Ivey--being one of them, Kenney Havard you know, --there are several Republican legislators who are furious about the lack of compromise and and really the lack of good faith among their leadership.
SABLUDOWSKY: Well as I understand I'm just playing devil's advocate here, that they did not anticipate the black caucus to make certain demands and that just kind of soured it from the standpoint of some of the Republicans that I've talked to
WHITE: well I mean the demands that the legislative black caucus were making were fairly recent were entirely reasonable actually. The Republican Party the leadership there had attempted to attach poison pill amendments to a lot of these fiscal bills that really weren't germane that were probably eventually would have been struck down anyway, that essentially we're about Medicaid work requirements scrutinizing 455,000 Louisianians who are on Medicaid and I think that their their demands if they were reasonable I'm not sure however with the GOP leadership line that the governor and his staff were not anticipating this. I think that's probably a false narrative, I'm pretty sure that the governor and people like Ted James and others in the legislative Black Caucus work hand-in-glove and this was not something that really should not have been a surprise to Republican legislators.