If the endless emergency taught us anything it is that our governor has too much power. As people start announcing their run for governor many are wondering who is willing to address balance of power. One man should not be able to rule all three branches of Louisiana’s government.
The Endless Emergency
For two years one man ruled over Louisiana. He decided which businesses would survive his emergency. Because of his abuse of power, thousands of high school seniors did not get to walk across a stage for graduation. He insisted citizens stay home while he had parties and lived his life. It took two years for John Bel Edwards to admit that ending the emergency would not end federal funding.
BECOME A LOUISIANA YOUTH AMBASSADOR!
Anyone ages 12-17 yrs old can join the movement. Apply as an individual, form a new group/team, or through an existing youth group, sports group, team or club.
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— Louisiana Department of Health (@LADeptHealth) February 21, 2022
Initially Louisiana’s governor said “two weeks to flatten the curve”. That morphed into “slow the spread”. Next thing we knew, he and his team were bribing and coercing people into vaccinations. Now his appointed Department of Health person is using children to peer pressure others into getting a a shot. It should be left to parents to decide what is best for their children.
The next Governor should work with the legislature to ensure a proper balance of power between the separate branches of government during times of extended emergencies. Many understand the need for a Governor to have extraordinary powers during an emergency to provide stability on a short term basis. But when these powers are extended long term, citizens’ constitutional rights become threatened when their voices are silenced. The voice of the people as spoken through their elected legislature should never be silenced in a democratic republic. -Representative Blake Miguez
The governor Controls Louisiana Students
Another way the governor controls Louisiana is through his BESE appointments. The governor appoints three of the eleven members. BESE called the shots on mandates in public schools. Of course, their rules matched the governor’s wishes.
Few schools went against these mandates. Their attorneys, Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, Guice, Noah, & Perkins LLC advised against it. The concern was liability. Representative Buddy Mincey reinforced the fear of liability with House Bill 59 in 2020’s First Extraordinary Session.
“New law prohibits a public school governing authority from adopting a policy, rule, or regulation that imposes a lesser standard than what is prescribed in a rule or regulation adopted by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.”
The law firm that represents nearly every school system in Louisiana has a partner that enjoyed an appointment by the governor.
“In July 2016, Al was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana (UL) System. Six months later, Al was selected by his fellow board members to serve as Chairman of the Board, and recently completed a two year term as the youngest Chair in the history of the board.”
The Governor Controls Who Shows Up in Baton Rouge
Covid is not the only thing the governor has used to ensure everything goes his way. He has used appointments and line item vetoes to sway votes. In fact, it will be up to senate to confirm former Senator Ronnie Johns appointment as head of Louisiana’s Gaming Control Board. Conveniently, Johns was appointed by the governor when he skipped the 2021 Veto Override Session.
“I used all those (tactics) that were at my disposal that previous governors have used and that they were using downstairs themselves,” Edwards said. “Are we going to take politics out of politics?”
What Are Legislators Doing?
In 2021 Representative Larry Frieman brought HB149. This bill focused on termination of the governor’s emergency powers. This bill passed the house with 58of 105 in favor and senate with 25of 39 in favor. The governor, of course, vetoed it. Unfortunately, Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder never called HB149 for an override.
There needs to be a balance of power. The legislature should just pass the same limiting power bills that the governor vetoed last session. – Representative Michael Echols
A few representatives submitted bills for Louisiana’s 2022 regular session that could make major impact if they pass. Perhaps the governor will veto them. Balance of power should be a nonpartisan effort, so a veto override should be easy.
When I asked legislators about ways we can balance powers most agreed the line item veto was a good place to start. Representative Mark Wright submitted HB179 This is a constitutional amendment and does not need the governors approval. Representative Phillip Tarver was more specific. He added that the Capital Outlay line item veto needs to go. “It should not be used to force a hand when things are approved for specific areas or projects.”
Representative Phillip Tarver aims to balance powers is by eliminating three appointed BESE seats and having a fully elected board. This would be a great start to shifting the focus from politics back to education. Tarver submitted HB4. This is also a constitutional amendment and does not need the governors approval.
Representative Larry Frieman submitted HB12. This bill is similar to one he submitted in 2021. This bill does not require both the house and senate to terminate an emergency. This would protect citizens from everlasting emergencies that give the governor sole power over the state of Louisiana.
Soon Louisiana will elect a new governor. Citizens are asking which candidate will be most willing to work with legislators on balance of power. Which candidate will be willing to ensure we never face another endless emergency order again? Which candidate will put what is best for Louisiana over their desire for power?
Effective and efficient legislative oversight on executive branch emergency powers will probably be one of the primary subjects for any gubernatorial candidate. Many bills have been offered by the legislature (including several by myself) to bring into balance the governors broad emergency power by improving the flexibility and effectiveness of the legislatures oversight on those emergency powers. For this issue to not be contentious between the next governor and legislature, it will be important for each gubernatorial candidate to provide clear and specific remedies that they can support. Ambiguous rhetoric on this subject could be very telling and might mean that the candidate is less likely to cede the broad emergency powers via increased legislative oversight. – Representative Barry Ivey
If we’re not watching them, who will?
Citizens for a New Louisiana is the only organization in Louisiana dedicated to reforming local government. With the help of numerous volunteers we are making some progress. However, there’s much more work we could be doing. Making a difference will take a little more than reading an article every now and then. Your community doesn’t need another spectator. They need someone willing to step onto the field and become a real part of the solution. Will you join us?Help us to achieve the vision of creating a new, propserous state by becoming a Citizen of a New Louisiana. Become a Citizen