With the news earlier today that state rep Walker Hines, a 26-year old Democrat who is preparing a run for Secretary of State, is switching parties to the GOP, Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere put out a statement crowing over the switch.
“For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Louisiana House of Representatives. On behalf of the Republican Party of Louisiana, I welcome Representative Hines to the GOP and thank him for his service to Louisiana. I invite all Louisiana citizens who share our commitment to limited government to join our cause. Prior to the 2007 legislative elections, Democrats held a 16 seat majority in the House. This dramatic shift is more evidence that the freedom loving people of Louisiana have rejected the Democratic Party’s liberal agenda.”
Hines’ switch gives the GOP a 51-50 advantage in the 105-member Louisiana House of Representatives. Four members are independents. The gain is symbolic, however; House Speaker Jim Tucker, a Republican, has been in charge of that body since the 2008 legislative session. The move doesn’t confer any more power on the party than it previously had. Most observers think a blowout in the legislative elections will be a key feature in next year’s cycle is inevitable, which will lead to lopsided Republican numbers both in the House and the Senate (Democrats currently hold 22 seats to the GOP’s 16 in the Senate).
Thus it’s not a surprise that little is said about Hines in the GOP release. While it’s true that his recent voting record isn’t terrible – LABI scored him as a 100 in the 2010 legislative session, which brings his lifetime score up to 80 – Hines has a history of bill authorship which would hardly endear him to the statewide Republican electorate. In our previous piece on Hines today we outlined several rather egregious examples of nanny-state legislation issuing from his pen. A further sampling…
- Co-authored and passed repeal of law which allowed for a 17 or 18-year old student to drop out of school without any legal consequences with the permission of their parent, tutor, or legal guardian. Louisiana has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the nation. This law was long outdated. (Are we going to put parents in jail if their kids don’t graduate from high school now? Who’s going to pay for that?)
- Authored legislation to create green building standards in new construction projects financed with taxpayer money. By adopting the LEED standards, the State would save money over time by reducing energy costs. (That’s a dubious proposition, and any energy savings the state might realize over time will be paid dearly for up front)
- Authored legislation requiring banks, lending institutions, and mortgage companies to offer credit counseling prior to buying a home. (Which imposes greater costs on all consumers of financial products doing business with Louisiana providers; fundamentally a tax increase)
- Authored legislation which would have banned trans fats in Louisiana restaurants. (enough said)
- Co-authored and passed legislation requiring that new gas stations in Southern Louisiana purchase generators to ensure that power remains on during natural disasters. (more nanny-state government, another government imposition of costs on Louisiana businesses and a hidden tax on Louisiana consumers)
- Co-authored and passed legislation creating the Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact, which would facilitate the construction, financing, and operation of a high speed transit or railroad if monies become available. (another big-government solution and probably boondoggle in the works)
Hines might be the newest Republican in the House, but he’s no conservative. Perhaps he’ll “grow” in the legislature, but if he carries through on his threat to run for Secretary of State it’s hard to make a case he deserves the conservative vote over incoming interim Secretary Tom Schedler, a long-time Republican state senator with a solid record who’ll be running to hold the job next fall.