Rob Shadoin

Sue LIncoln

Nearly all of us are familiar with the image from “The Wizard of Oz” that accompanies the line, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Yet for the past several days, House Republicans have been publicly pulling the curtain back on the dysfunctional aspects of this session.


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“What we constantly are hearing is ‘Our hands are tied because we have dedicated funds in the constitution’,” Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil reminded the House Appropriations Committee Monday.

But the question of whether to dedicate or undedicate state funds may ultimately be left to voters, as state lawmakers are moving forward with constitutional amendments proposing to tie up more money, as well as one to unlock funds that are currently off limits.


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On Wednesday, House Ways and Means took up tax-raising measures that could help fill the $600 million budget gap the state is facing next fiscal year, which starts July 1.


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Louisiana’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world, and costs the state $600-million a year. So how do we change that?

“Nobody’s trying to get murderers and rapists and armed robbers out of jail,” Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson advises. “We’re talking about alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders.”

Yet Louisiana is one of only two states that allows criminal convictions by less than a unanimous jury. (The other is Oregon.)

Sue Lincoln

With nearly a third of the House members in their first term, Speaker Taylor Barras recently asked House Clerk Butch Speer, “Just review the rules on voting.”

Speer says the basic rules are simple.

“If you’re in the chamber, you are required to vote. If you are not in the chamber, you are not allowed to vote.”

The next rules follow from that, Speer explained.

courtesy LA OJJ

While the Senate Finance Committee began working through the budget Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee was taking public testimony on it.

“Thank you for coming today for this testimony,” Appropriations chair Jim Fannin said in welcome, noting the weather made it more difficult than usual for many who turned up to add their input to the process. “We are appreciative for that,” he said.

Much of the public testimony went as expected: requests for higher allocations to cover jobs and services.