2017 Review: Less Trauma, Same Drama

Dec 29, 2017

How to summarize the year 2017 in state politics? Somewhat less trauma, but much of the same drama.

For the second year in a row, we had back-to-back-to-back legislative sessions, with Senate President John Alario repeating what became a familiar prediction: "There isn't a whole lot looks like that's going to get accomplished in this session."

Meanwhile, Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry pointed the blame finger at the upper chamber: "We were hoping to get the Senate to do something as relates to a negotiation."

He also pointed at the administration, insisting, "The Governor's not going to come up with a deficit reduction plan."

There was one major legislative accomplishment: passage of the criminal justice reform package.

"We're trying to make sure that the violent people stay in jail, and the people who committed non-violent crimes will come out and become productive citizens," said state Senator Danny Martiny, author of one of the bills in the package.

 

Compared to 2016, there was no overt racial unrest, nor concerted attacks on Louisiana police officers. There was, however, the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise.

 

"Our former colleague, Steve Scalise — critical condition. He lost a lot, a lot of blood," Senator Mike Walsworth told the upper chamber June 14, as he asked for prayers for Scalise and his family.

Louisiana's 1st District congressman, the U.S. House Majority Whip, did battle back, making a triumphal return to the House floor Sept. 28.

 

"You have no idea how great this feels to back here, at work in the people’s House," a beaming Scalise said, to applause and cheers from the entire body.

 

A low turnout election in November gave us John Schroder as State Treasurer, who made his case to replace John Kennedy by singing a familiar tune.

 

"We have a spending problem. We spend too much money," Schroder said, at speaking engagements and in his campaign ads.

 

And as we move into 2018, there will be more re-runs.

 

"The Legislature has yet to address the long-term structural tax reform that we need to implement," Gov. John Bel Edwards reminded stakeholders and the media just last week.

 

Yes, the fiscal cliff is still there. And the governor remains publicly optimistic that lawmakers will find the will to solve it, saying, "The legislators' toes weren't dangling off the edge of the cliff yet."

 

Here's to 2018.