Politics

Coverage of politics from the Louisiana statehouse in Baton Rouge and beyond.

 Demonstrators for and against same-sex marriage rallied in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.
Emily Jan / NPR

This week, in the Obergefell case, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the 14th amendment— the one with the equal protection clause — requires states to license marriages between people of the same sex or if requires states to recognize same-sex marriages conferred by another state.  

To that question, Louisiana says no in a friend-of-the-court brief that 15 states signed on to.

Kyle Duncan is the counsel of record on that brief, and is defending Louisiana's constitutional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in other cases. In one case, the state has sued the Dept. of Labor over a change to the Family and Medical Leave Act that would extend benefits to same-sex spouses.
 


A bill to prohibit payroll deductions for union dues prompted hours of impassioned testimony Thursday.

“Teachers, firemen, police — these are the people you trust every day to take care of everything in our communities. But you insult us by telling us we’re not smart enough to know if we want things taken out of our paycheck,” said an angry Melody Munch, president of the Jefferson Parish Federation of Teachers.

This was the fourth annual try for the so-called “Paycheck Protection Act”, pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity (AFP), and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

“It’s being advanced by the same folks everywhere, because it’s template legislation,” Louisiana Federation of Teachers president Steve Monaghan noted during his testimony against the bill.”

LABI president Stephen Waguespack said this is about drawing a bright line between political organizations and public employees.

Compassion and Cannabis

Apr 30, 2015

A bill that would set up rules and the system for dispensing medical marijuana advanced out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday. Although law enforcement opposition has derailed similar bills in previous sessions, the difference with Fred Mills’ SB 143 was the support of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.

“The move that our sheriffs made was to be compassionate; was to do things to provide relief,” Sheriffs’ Association director Mike Renatza testified, “And to hopefully not harm anyone.”

Renatza said each sheriff examined his own conscience, and asked themselves, “What would you do? What would you do for your son? What would you do for your daughter?”

Tuesday’s House Ways and Means hearing on bills to cap the film tax credit program brought out some of the big names in Louisiana movie-making, like Lampton Enochs of the Oscar-winning Moonbot Studios, and former Dukes of Hazzard star, John Schneider.

“I have not won an Academy Award, but I’ve seen several films that have,” Schneider said, eliciting laughter from committee members and the packed audience in attendance.

But charmed as lawmakers were by the big names, it was Louisiana residents working in the movie industry who made the biggest impression. Dozens spoke against Alexandria Rep. Lance Harris’s bill that would scale the credits down to zero over the next five years.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court seemed closely divided Tuesday over the question of gay marriage, with Justice Anthony Kennedy likely holding the deciding vote.

Kennedy, who over the past two decades has written the court's three decisions recognizing and expanding gay rights, seemed conflicted on the question of marriage.

The House Ways and Means Committee started working through several revenue-raising bills Monday, including one that would increase the cigarette tax.

There was the expected health related testimony.

“In Louisiana, more than 22 percent of adults and 12 percent of youth smoke cigarettes — the only product that, when used as directed, will kill half of all its users,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, director of Louisiana Tobacco-Free Living.

The idea that the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage is a good thing for Republicans sounds counterintuitive — after all, the GOP is the party of traditional marriage.

But here's why it might actually be a good thing for the party:

1. Public opinion is changing — at lightning speed.

There's never been a social issue in America on which public attitudes reached a tipping point so quickly.

The U.S. Supreme Court directly confronts the question of gay marriage this week with a whopping 2 1/2 hours of oral argument, accompanied by plenty of prognostication afterward about the expected results. It won't be until June that we learn how the issue is settled nationally. In the meantime, though, we do know a good deal about the views of the justices already.

To say that there has been a revolution in the law when it comes to gay rights is an understatement.

“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” The naval adage, quoted in Wouk’s 1951 “The Caine Mutiny” and again in Heinlein’s 1973 “Time Enough for Love”, pretty well describes the current status of both the state budget and legislative action.


The list of official and likely candidates for president in 2016 includes some prominent Republicans who are currently governors. Three of them — Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal — all tout executive experience as qualification for the White House. They also share something else — slumping poll numbers back home.

They've been working to make themselves familiar and friendly faces to the party faithful in early voting states, including at a big event hosted last week by the New Hampshire GOP.

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