The Louisiana Legislature is now is session. The Times has sent questionaires to each of our local representatives. I am cherry picking some questions and answers from Senators Robert Adley and Buddy Shaw and from Representatives Henry Burns and Jane Smith and adding my comments. Feel free to chime in.
Here is a link to The Times opinion page so you can read the answers given by all of the local reps.
What areas or budget reductions would you change in the governor's proposed budget?
Adley: Remove cuts to war veterans homes totaling $1 million statewide.
Shaw: I am genuinely concerned about care for the handicapped and mentally ill, such as those housed at the northwest facility in Bossier City and other locations that service those people.
Burns: Early childhood education.
No disagreement on any of these
What are the top bills you plan to introduce and focus on during the session?
Adley: The executive branch still ranks dead last in transparency. I will have legislation to bring more sunshine on the executive process, especially budget information.
Adley: I passed legislation two years ago to prohibit undersecretaries and prohibit family from having state contracts in the same way as are legislators. The administration opposed stopping family members; but the person impacted is no longer with the administration, so I will try to finish the job.
Good on both of these. For all of the governor's spiels on talk shows and in the national media about the 'gold standard' of ethics, he has continually blocked any efforts to place ethics restrictions on his office. Of all governor's offices in the country, it is dead last on transparency. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
Adley: Change pedophile law for a spouse to report pedophiles without fear of reprisal. Spouses are afraid to take action for fear of retaliation of the other spouse.
I don't understand how the legislature passing a law of this nature will offer any real protection to anyone. There are already remedies in place (domestic abuse restraining orders).
Shaw: Require retailers to provide certain information to a consumer who purchases an iguana.
Okay, I won't even go there.
Shaw: Provide that funeral policies pay the cash value on the face of the policy or the amount equal to the total premiums paid, whichever is greater.
Don't understand this one, don't insurance policies already have to do this?
Burns: Provide an opportunity for places of worship to establish a security plan, amending the state's concealed handgun provisions. (House Bill 68)
Apparently being done on behalf of a constituent. If the need is there, I'm not opposed. I'm not sure this will go anywhere.
Smith: Provide that the director of the Division of Administrative Law is appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court rather than the governor's office (House Bill 1077). This bill is a work in progress in how to address some of the concerns that the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana had concerning the administrative law judges and the Ethics Board.
Excellent proposal. This is at the heart of the ethics debate. During the special session on ethics a couple of years ago, power to enforce was removed from the Ethics Board and given to administrative law judges that are appointed by the governor. That didn't pass the 'smell test' and needs to be rectified.
Should the office of lieutenant governor be abolished? If so, who/where should the duties of lieutenant governor be assigned to?
Adley: I do not think we should abolish the office for several reasons. I am not for creating "kings and kingdoms." I support a balanced government with as many checks and balances as possible.
Burns: I would consider abolishing the office of lieutenant governor. I would place the majority of this office's duties and responsibilities with the secretary of state.
I am 100% with Adley on this one. It is very important to have that constitutional check. I am lukewarm on combining the office with Secretary of State. I believe we should think long and hard about this one.
(As a side note, when Paul Cyr was Lieutenant Governor in the Huey P. Long days, he attempted to take over the governorship when Long refused to resign after being elected to the Senate. In 1931, Cyr filed suit to have himself declared governor.)
"He had a justice of the peace in Shreveport give him the oath of office in the Caddo Parish courthouse. Cyr arrived in Baton Rouge and threatened to take over the governor's mansion. Long ordered the National Guard to mobilize, and troops surrounded the capitol with strict orders not to admit Cyr. After a few days, state police replaced the guardsmen. For a time, the city was an "armed camp", with both Long and Cyr packing pistols."