Parental Rights and the Bond Commission?


In 1972, the United States Supreme Court declared that parental rights have been “established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.” [Wisconsin v. Yoder]. In recent years, there has been a growing concern about government overreach and meddling in the affairs of parents. Many bills have been filed during this session that are specifically concerned with parental rights. Some of those include:

  • HB46 by Representative Kathy Edmonston (R 9/10)would provide that there is no COVID shot requirement for public or non-public school attendance.
  • HB47, also by Representative Edmonston, would require that communication issued to students or parents about immunization requirements include exemption information and apply the exemption not only to students seeking to enter school but also to students attending school.
  • HB66 by Representative Rhonda Butler (R 6/10) provides a school of choice for students with exceptionalities.
  • HB121 by Representative Raymond Crews (R 8/10) would prohibit using incorrect names and pronouns for students.
  • HB122 by Representative Dodie Horton (R 9/10) would prohibit public school teachers and administrators from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity outside of the approved curriculum.
  • HB123, by Representative Laurie Schlegel (R 7/10), would require children to have parental permission to create an online account with an internet platform.
  • HB256, also by Representative Horton, would require parental consent for medical or surgical care or services performed on a minor, except in cases of emergency.
  • HB414 by Representative Josh Carlson (R 9/10) would provide that public libraries are not exempt from the crime of obscenity.
  • HB545 by Representative Beryl Amedee (9/10) would provide that K-12 schools are not exempt from the crime of obscenity.

Louisiana is also a parent

“Did you know” Louisiana is also a parent? Yes! And we are not talking about the massive welfare state that takes care of people from the cradle to the grave or our foster system. We’re talking about the legitimate children of the State: political subdivisions.

Political subdivisions are creatures of the state. They owe their very existence to the state and are essentially subordinate to it. They cannot act in a manner that supersedes the authority granted to them by their parent, the state.

Content made possible by:
BB's Auto Sales

That’s why we see numerous local bills each legislative session. They are essentially the child (the political subdivision) asking the parent (the state) for special permission to do something they would not otherwise be able to do under the law. Sometimes, that request is granted based on the specific circumstances experienced by the political subdivision. However, the request is denied on other occasions because the law intended to maintain uniformity state-wide or provide a necessary safeguard.

The Louisiana State Bond Commission

The Louisiana State Bond Commission has a critical function. The family unit ensures that its affairs are in order when their child wants to incur debt or levy taxes. Before a child is allowed to raid his trust fund for frivolous wants instead of necessary needs, he must seek permission from his parents. The Bond Commission acts as that important safeguard by ensuring that Constitutional and statutory requirements are met and that the political subdivision can repay the indebtedness that is incurred.

The Louisiana Constitution, Article VII, Section 8 provides:

No bonds or other obligations shall be issued or sold by the state, directly or through any state board, agency, or commission, or by any political subdivision of the state, unless prior written approval of the bond commission is obtained.

The State is ultimately responsible if a political subdivision fails to meet its financial responsibilities. This is not much different from parents being responsible for the actions of their children. We all know that children’s poor decisions can sometimes impact the family’s other children. From a government perspective, the decisions of political subdivisions can impact not only the people who reside in that community but also those who live elsewhere and have no representation in that government.

Content made possible by:
Allen Edmonds Ad

HB836 could remove this

HB836, by Representative Jack McFarland (R 7/10), seeks to adjust existing law to allow political subdivisions (children) to bypass the Louisiana State Bond Commission (their parents) in certain situations.

Presently Louisiana law (LARS 39:1410.60(A)) states:

No parish, municipality, public board, political or public corporation, subdivision, or taxing district, and no road or sub-road district, school district, sewerage district, drainage or subdrainage district, levee district, waterworks or sub-waterworks district, irrigation district, road lighting district, harbor and terminal district, or any other political subdivision, taxing district, political or public corporation, created under or by the constitution and laws of the state shall have authority to borrow money, incur debt, or to issue bonds, or other evidences of debt, or to levy taxes, or to pledge uncollected taxes or revenues for the payment thereof, where they are authorized by the constitution or laws of the state so to do, without the consent and approval of the State Bond Commission.

As Schroder and Waguespack have pointed out, according to the Attorney General, approval of the State Bond Commission is not a prerequisite to enter into a CEA as long as the obligations of the State or its political subdivisions do not constitute debt. But the Attorney General has also defied “debt” as being “…more than an obligation to pay a sum of money. As defined in the statute (LARS 39:1405(B)), debt is incurred when there is financing.”

HB836 provides debt or evidence of debt “shall not include a lease or an installment purchase agreement that contains a non-appropriation clause, and does not contain an anti-substitution or penalty clause.”

Redefining debt!

HB836 would re-write this portion of the statute to provide that “debt” and “evidence of debt” shall not include any of the following unless the agreement is entered into in conjunction with the issuance of bonds, notes, or certificates for which approval by the State Bond Commission would otherwise be required:

  • A lease or an installment purchase agreement that contains a non-appropriation clause; and does not contain an anti-substitution or penalty clause;
  • A concession agreement or any other agreement or obligation that meets either of the following criteria:
    • (aa) It is based on a usage payment and monthly term.
    • (bb) It is not required to be categorized as long-term debt as defined by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board

Is this motivated by pending litigation?

Members of Sustainability Partners, LLC were appearing in the House Ways and Means Committee in support of the measure. SP Ville Platte WWTP, LLC is owned by Sustainability Partners, LLC. In May of 2023, the City of Ville Platte filed suit against SP Ville Platte WWTP, LLC, seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief related to a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) that was entered into with the company. That matter was initially filed in Evangeline Parish but was later removed to Federal Court. To date, an answer has not been filed by SP Ville Platte WWTP, LLC, with the matter having been the subject of several extensions and stays.

According to the suit, on or about June 21, 2022, July 15, 2022, and September 1, 2022, the City of Ville Platte and SP Ville Platte WWTP, LLC entered into a CEA to facilitate SP’s construction of a wastewater treatment plant. The CEA was not submitted to, reviewed by, or approved by the Louisiana State Bond Commission before or after its execution. You can read the entire suit HERE!

On August 30, 2022, former Louisiana State Treasurer John M. Schroder and Louisiana Legislative Auditor Michael J. “Mike” Waguespack issued a joint letter indicating that the City of Ville Platte entered into an agreement that would constitute the incurrence of debt requiring approval of the State Bond Commission. They went on to state, “Any debt incurred without the approval by the State Bond Commission would be contrary to Louisiana law and therefore null and void, ab initito.

We’re not just removing guardrails

Representative McFarland said in Committee, ‘We are signaling to others we are open for business!’ Representative Mike Echols (R 8/10) questioned whether the legislature was removing guardrails to allow more autonomy of decisions at the local level. When provided with a favorable response, he indicated he supported such a measure that would loosen restrictions. Echols also questioned Treasurer John Fleming’s use of a “red card” to testify in opposition to the bill. Fleming replied, ‘I’m an elected official, and I can do so.’ Representative Joseph Orgeron (R 6/10) believed that the local municipalities should be allowed to “live and learn.” Perhaps Orgeron would be willing to co-sign all those obligations personally.

Removing Bond Commission oversight would essentially increase the likelihood of exposure to the rest of us for the poor decisions of other municipalities. It is that “live and learn” attitude which is concerning. It is like giving your young teen the keys to the car and a credit card while suggesting you don’t care to know what they do with either. It is irresponsible and a recipe for disaster.

Removing restrictions and shrinking government are noble objectives. However, removing restrictions on government is not the same thing. As political scientist Dr. Marshall DeRosa has pointed out, the Constitution is a ‘neon sign which reads: We Don’t Trust Government!’ The purpose of Constitutional restrictions is to CONTROL GOVERNMENT! Our Constitution establishes the Bond Commission for that purpose.

It seems like this is more about helping out Sustainability Partners, LLC, but in doing so, it paves a dangerous road. The signs along that road don’t say, “We’re Open for business!” They read: “We welcome your plunder!


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This