Governor John Bel Edwards saw some victories for his agenda in the Senate this week, with the advancement of criminal justice reforms and anti-discrimination legislation, as well as a bill to increase the minimum wage. The House, on the other hand?
“Quite frankly, I’m disappointed – particularly in the House,” the governor said, with a sigh.
Monday, Shreveport Representative Thomas Carmody’s monuments bill, HB 71, angered the Black Caucus to the point of walking out, en mass.
“This bill is very much about white supremacy and divisiveness,” Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith said, when urging House members to vote against the bill.
Franklin Representative Sam Jones quizzed Carmody, trying to gauge where he personally stood, regarding the “War of Northern Aggression.”
“Would you agree the major reason that the Southern states seceded from the Union was in order to maintain the institution of slavery?” Jones asked Carmody.
“No, sir, I would not.”
And in the governor’s view,“The bill unnecessarily created a lot of division and animosity. We need to come together as a people. That was not the way to do it.”
Tax reform bills came up for full House consideration a couple of times, but were returned to the calendar. As Alexandria Representative , and House Republican Caucus chair Lance Harris put it, “It seems like nobody wants to vote for taxes.”
Since Monday is the House Republicans’ “Elephant Stomp” golf tournament, and Tuesday is the House vs. Senate basketball game, the tax reform bills are now scheduled for House debate next Wednesday. If they pass, that would leave the Senate less than two weeks to vet them before the end of session.
Governor Edwards doesn't even try to hide his frustration.
“On July 1, 2018, $1.3-billion in revenue is just gone,” he says, noting that everyone is abundantly aware of that “fiscal cliff”.
“As of right now, there has not been anything that has moved out of the House of Representatives that in any way addresses that cliff.”
Shaking his head sadly, the governor adds, “Every day it looks more and more likely we’ll have to have a special session at some point before the regular session next year.”