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Monday, 07 May 2018 18:29

Louisiana legislature: Alario's role, institutonal memory and polls

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alarioLouisiana 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?

Last week, we discussed these topicsduring an the interview with lobbyist Mary Patricia Wray.

At the end of part two, published last week, Wray said she was not a big fan of term limits. Here is part three:

SABLUDOWSKY: And that's because as you mentioned the difficulty-- I wasn't a real fan of it either, you know because of the same reason, I mean, we don't like, at least I don't I don't like politicians who become institutions, yet there is something of value that in in terms of institutional knowledge.  I mean John Alario for example,

WRAY: His institutional knowledge isn't just on the issues, he mastered the issues long long ago. His knowledge is on how to get a group of people to work together to do something smart for a state. And when you're constantly, when you never get to a place where you can stop worrying about being reelected, you can never, I mean I can't tell you how many people, and I never see this as a reflection about who they are as a person, but there are many legislators who tell me, you know I I know it would be the right thing to do to vote yes, or to vote no, but I know the people at home won't understand it and they won't like it, and so and--I don't see anything unethical about that statement what they're saying is, "I think the people at home want me to vote a certain way and I'm here to represent them. I wish that they could understand this issue the way that I do now that I've been here, because I think they would think differently about it",.   

And I really see what what I do as an advocate now, I guess, you know I'm a registered lobbyist but most of my work at the Capitol is on behalf of organizations that are board led with very clear missions about improving different quality of life aspects and I'm very lucky to have clients like that.  And you know, their advocacy has become sort of lobbying plus, because we have to go back to the legislators district and educate so that the people there want but the legislator to do what we're asking them to do before we've ever made the ask.  And so you know we do a lot of using data and technology we're able to show the legislature-no, your gut is right, this thing that you think is the right thing to do, they do want you to follow through with that, and here's and here's how and this is where the PR the lobbying plus stuff goes even further, and then here's what you can say when you take this vote, here's the reason you can give and here's the press release you can put out, it's no longer a game of steaks and golf.  Dot worry I have to do all that too, but but I have to also make sure that in this climate people know that if they choose to do what I'm asking them to do they'll be able to come back and keep fighting for the people that they are there to represent, and that it won't hit them pegged  in an inappropriate way. 

 I cannot name for you one legislator who is not here for the right reasons.  Each and each and every one of them that I have ever met really comes to Baton Rouge, I think most of them would say with a servant's heart, wanting to do the right thing for the people that they represent.  That is not always as easy as it seems.  And sometimes that means voting for someone else's bill that you don't think is the greatest so that your thing that's really important for your hometown can can get done.  And I think a lot of people feel like that's that's shady and I guess I would just say that's that's a reality and I want someone smart and practical representing me.  I can't speak for every voter but I want someone who'll be practical with with their resources and I want them to view their vote as a resource.  They have one vote to give if they're in the House of Representatives they're one of 105 people, 53 of them have to speak clearly on most issues and so if you're 1/53rd of someone else's solution, they can be 1/53rd of yours and it you know you got to add them up fifty three at a time, so it, but it ends up mattering and how you treat people ends up mattering both at home and in the building. 

SABLUDOWSKY: Sure,  I mean definitely.  The role of polls--is it your experience that there are a lot of polls that actually take place during the session--the reason why I bring that up is because, one of the people that we have on a lot is Bernie Pinsonat, he actually  writes a lot for Bayoubuzz and and so he did a poll, he does his spring poll and and December poll and and essentially, you know he's saying that hey you know there is no desire from the the voters to raise a penny tax--and that might be an overstatement--but that is what he is reporting that they just you know people do not want to raise tax.  

WRAY: This is one of those instances where polling really matters and it's really important.  Because if you tell people that we're gonna raise a penny then of course they're gonna say they're not for it.  Tell them that we're going to maintain a portion of a penny and institute a four hundred million dollar tax cut which is what was proposed in the special session and I don't think explained very well by the proponents of that position, they're for it--because everybody wants, and so you have to decide which one is spin--I actually believe that saying raising a penny, I think I think characterizing any continuation of attacks that's gonna roll off as a "raise" as a new taxes, new revenue-- think that's spin.  If you're already paying it, it's not a raise.  It's the same tax you were paying and in fact because the proposal on the table was to eliminate a portion of that fifth penny of sales tax that we put on the books, it would have actually reduced net and net tax reduction for Louisiana families of four hundred million dollars, while still having enough money in the budget to fully fund hospitals, higher education and TOPS.  And I think that you will see in 2019 messages against legislators who voted no on that but they voted no on a four hundred million dollar tax cut for the people of Louisiana.   

SABLUDOWSKY: So I mean in terms of four hundred million--that's that's so abstract I mean it really is 

WRAY: But  if you pOll it, it's not abstract. I mean four hundred million sounds like a lot to a lot of people 

SABLUDOWSKY: Oh sure no I mean no question about that ,but if you're looking at a total thirty billion dollar budget 

WRAY: Well right now our whole deficit, it almost covers our entire deficit, and so we could have cut the amount of our deficit and still covered our deficit



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Metairie, Louisiana