The Louisiana House takes up HB 865 today. The fix is already in and the bill will pass.
This bill will rubber stamp the massive expansion of funding for crony capitalism bus system in Baton Rouge. Together Baton Rouge’s hand-picked unelected board will run a monopoly bus system in EBRP with funding increased by 150% drawn from a single issue (CATS Tax) election. You see if you want to pass an unpopular tax hold a special election. Then make sure the pro-tax side votes and presto, you win. Never mind that in a general election this thing would have been crushed. But the tax payers in Baton Rouge had another chance on May 15th.
The Louisiana State Senate voted 19-19 against HB 865. Then voted for it 20-15. Why two votes? According to the Advocate, which saw nothing unusual in this, a motion to reconsider was made and the vote recast a short while later. That’s not quite the whole truth. Senate rules had to be suspended first. Then three Republicans, none of which have constituents in Baton Rouge, flip-flopped and voted for HB 865.
Besides the obvious question of why state government has to OK a local tax, there’s a much deeper and troubling issue at hand. Why did the three senators change their votes ten minutes later? Did they “evolve” in ten minutes? What bills for the other side will they be voting for in return for their votes on HB 865? After the 19-19 failure to pass, Alex Favre (a citizen observer from Baton Rouge opposed to the bill) was quietly told, “you think you’ve won but it’s not over.” When the second vote came she was appalled. Alex said to me later “it was disgusting.” I thought she was being kind.
But wait, there’s more! The House now takes up the vote and word is out that the fix is in and HB 865 will once again narrowly pass after a bit of theater. Alex will be there again to observe the sausage making. I hope she doesn’t throw up.
The people of Baton Rouge have one last hope after that. Governor Bobby Jindal can veto HB 865. Why should he? It’s for buses right? It’s a local Baton Rouge thing right? Wrong; it’s a power grab by a relatively small group to entrench and ingratiate themselves.
I hope the Governor is paying attention.