Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
With one recent Supreme Court Justice confirmed and another just appointed by President Trump, the issue of televising hearings before the nation’s highest court will surely be discussed. The Supremes have stood steadfastly against letting the public watch the cases argued before them, even though the court’s decisions can often have major implications for every American. The Constitution guarantees that trials are public and open to everyone. And what could be more public than televising a criminal trial for the whole world to see?
President Trump has put the French back in good graces with the U.S. while criticizing other European nations. He apparently turned a cold shoulder to both German and England over tariffs and NATO, but has developed a close and warm relationship with current French President Emmanuel Macron. And that’s good news for Louisiana.
Legislators were high fiving this week over the balancing of the state budget by increasing the already highest sales tax in the nation. Fully funding the TOPS tuition program for college students became the centerpiece for much of the discussion. But through all the euphoria of self-congratulation, lost in the shuffle was the failure to address or even discuss early childhood learning and funding the child-care assistance program.
”The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” And according to politicians in both parties, they are out to infiltrate the entire U.S. election process. A special prosecutor is looking under every rock to find out the culprits involved. And down here in Louisiana, the Secretary of State’s office is calling for the immediate replacement of some 10,000 voting machines at a cost of $60 million. Wow! This looks like a really crisis. But is it?
Can you put lipstick on a pig? Well, business leaders are certainly giving it their best shot in an effort to counteract the fact that Louisiana’s outrageously expensive insurance rates make the Bayou State an environment hostile to the attraction of new businesses. But, last week, compounding the problem, new figures showed automobile rates continue to rise, along with insurance rates for every homeowner. And unfortunately, both legislators and insurance regulators are assuming a blasé attitude — “that’s just the price you have to pay for living in Louisiana.”
The Times Picayune reported last week that the New Orleans Saints may ask the state to pay for a $350 million upgrade to the Superdome before the 2024 Super bowl. That’s a huge taxpayer commitment for a state that can’t even fund education at all levels and basic healthcare for hundreds of thousands of its citizens. So how should any upgrade be paid for?
Billy Cannon died this week. He was a Louisiana sports legend. There are some things you just don’t forget. Where you were on 9/11, or when President John Kennedy was shot. Down here in the Bayou State, add to those special dates Halloween night 59 years ago when Billy Cannon made football history with his 87 yard run to beat Ole Miss and keep the Tigers undefeated. His story is the rise and fall, then the rise again by LSU’s all-time great sports hero.
Political parties are at a low ebb both in Louisiana and throughout the rest of the country. Public opinion often dips below 40% approval rating in numerous national and statewide polling. Voters continue to lose faith in how both Democrats and Republicans govern. When asked why people belong to a certain party, the negative views of the opposing party are often given. In other words, “I’m a Democrat because I can’t stand the "Republicans” and visa versa.
There is a disturbing article in a recent issue of Atlantic Magazine by a prominent physician at the University of Pennsylvania. Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist, a bioethicist, and a vice provost of the University, and is the author or editor of 10 books, including Reinventing American Health Care. So he is a bright guy who knows a lot about health. His premise is that no one, in this day and age, should aspire to live longer than 75 years of age.
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.