It is often said that the people of Louisiana like their gumbo and their politics hot and spicy. Politically speaking, the year 2007 is not likely to disappoint them.
Governor Considering Special Session
On the heels of a December Special Session of the Louisiana Legislature that ended early and yielded little, Governor Kathleen Blanco says she is “reluctantly” considering calling a special session prior to the 2007 Regular Session to address hurricane-related property insurance issues.
The Governor was quoted in the Baton Rouge Advocate over the weekend about meeting ahead of the regular session beginning in April. She said, “I really don’t want to.” Some legislators in hurricane devastated areas are pushing for the special session in hopes of successfully delivering relief to their property-owner constituents.
Blanco is taking a different route to determine whether to make the call than she did for the ill-fated December Special Session. She says she is seeking guidance from legislators about whether a special session is necessary because of legal constraints on what may be discussed during the regular “fiscal only” session. Under the state constitution, regular sessions held in odd numbered years are fiscal only. That means that legislation considered is limited to taxes and other fiscal items. However, a constitutional amendment passed by the legislature and approved by the voters allows each legislator to introduce five general bills in “fiscal only” sessions. This could provide a way to avoid calling a Special Session. Either way, the Governor must work closely with legislative leaders if she has any hope of successfully passing her agenda.
The 2007 Regular Legislative Session begins at noon on Monday, April 30, and must end no later than 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 28.
Term limits for members of the Louisiana state House and Senate become effective in 2007. As a result, almost half of the current members of the legislature will be prohibited from running again—at least for the seat they currently hold. Several members of the House are running for Senate seats and at least one Senator is running for a House seat in the 2007 election this fall. Still, term limits will bring about an unprecedented turnover of legislators. Forty-seven members of the 105-seat House and 15 of the 39 state senators cannot seek re-election. A voter approved constitutional amendment imposes a three-term or 12 year consecutively served limit.
Proponents of term limits say term-limits terminate ineffective legislators who stay in office way too long due to the incumbent advantage with name recognition and campaign fund raising. They say turnover is good in a representative democracy.
Opponents claim term-limits shift too much power to bureaucrats who run the various state governmental departments. Opponents also say that voters should have the option of term limiting their legislator at the ballot box. Conversely, a good legislator can continue to be elected by the people of his or her district.
The health care industry and its advocates are among those who have concerns about term-limits. Industry advocates point to the fact that health care policy is very complicated. It takes time for most new legislators to learn what they need to know to cast important votes on health care legislation. Hospital, physician, nursing and allied health organizations in California say that state legislative term-limits have been a disaster in their state. They say that all too often, entrenched bureaucrats in the state health department drive the decision making process rather than legislators who were elected by the people. Health advocates there spend a great deal of time providing information and education to new members of the legislature. Health care advocates and organizations in Louisiana are gearing up to do the same after the 2007 elections.
Central Louisiana Legislators who are term-limited include:
Rep. Charlie DeWitt—D, Lecompte
Rep. Israel Curtis—D, Alexandria
Senate President Don Hines—D, Bunkie
Senator Noble Ellington—D, Winnsboro
Senator Mike Smith—D, Winnfield
Study Claims Republican Majority a Possibility in State House
Control of the traditionally Democratic state House could come close to shifting to the Republicans, according to a new study conducted by LSU-Shreveport political science professor Jeffrey Sadow. The study was presented at a meeting of the Southern Political Science Association in New Orleans the weekend of January 6-7.
Sadow’s analysis suggests that Republican candidates running for statewide office will benefit from Hurricane Katrina because it sent many Democratic voters out of the state. He claims the GOP will also benefit from term-limits.
The GOP, according to Sadow, could pick up as many as 10 seats in the House this year when veteran Democrats are barred from running for re-election to their House seats because of term-limits. He said, “That would put the Republicans within striking distance of gaining the 53 seats needed for a majority in the 105-member House.” Currently, 41 Republicans are serving in the House plus one Independent who traditionally votes with them.
Sadow issued a disclaimer to his study, saying he examined the effects of term-limits in isolation using only demographic and election data. He said many other factors are involved in elections, such as the quality of the candidates and the issues specific to the campaigns.
Sadow’s lists 11 House seats that his analysis suggests could go Republican this fall. Two of those seats are in central Louisiana. District 25 is currently held by Rep. Charlie DeWitt—D, Lecompte and District 27, currently held by Rep. Rick Farrar—D, Pineville. This is interesting because Rep. DeWitt is term-limited but Rep. Farrar is not.
Sadow listed District 37, currently held by Rep. Dan Morrish—R, Jennings as a Republican House district that could go Democratic.
The study indicates that the Democrats are likely to maintain the majority in the state Senate.
Well-distilled, informative piece, Deborah.
However, in my cynical view, term limits and political party majorities, in the final analysis, matter little. For myriad reasons you already know, unaccountable bureaucrats and concomitant bureaucracies govern us, period. More often than not, elected officials, however accountable to the electorate, are well-financed, noisy proxies.
Ergo, the essential, political question is, “How do you want your bureaucracies, leaded or unleaded?” ;->
A few questions from a blog idiot
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