UPDATE: White decided not to bring the bill, as he just didn’t have the votes on the House floor. It was going to be a few votes shy of the 70 it needed.
This despite the video below circulating all over the House chamber. Apparently SB 73 got caught up in some budget negotiations as a pawn, from what we’re told by a couple of House members we talked to. And that’s just terrific – kids are getting beaten to a pulp in the East Baton Rouge public school fight club, but rather than let the people vote on fixing it we’ll horse-trade the bill. Because they’re just public school kids, after all. Who cares about them?
By the way, Rep. Kenny Havard contacted us to say he was not actually opposed to the bill even though the head count from its supporters said otherwise. Apparently the confusion came from the fact that Havard was out of the House chamber in the Senate chamber at the time of the vote on the enabling legislation for SB 73 (he was representing a bill of his own across the hall), and because he didn’t actually vote for the related bill he was tagged as an opponent.
Not that it matters. White was still short of the 70 he needed even if he had Havard.
ORIGINAL: Sen. Bodi White (R-Central) is debating whether to bring SB 73, the constitutional amendment that would give voters the option to create an independent school district in the southeastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish in an election this fall, to the House floor for a vote. And the conventional wisdom says the bill is on life support.
Why? Because there are five Republicans standing in the way.
The five are Rep. Franklin Foil of Baton Rouge, Rep. Greg Cromer of Slidell, Rep. Frank Howard of Many, Rep. Mike Huval of Breaux Bridge, and Rep. Kenny Havard of St. Francisville.
That group has aligned with the Legislative Black Caucus and the Democratic Party in opposing giving residents of Southeast Baton Rouge – and the rest of the state, as it turns out – the right to vote on whether to create the new district.
White says he won’t bring the bill unless it has a shot to pass. Which means Foil, Cromer, Howard, Huval and Havard will need to get out of the way or else the bill will die. Sine die, the close of the legislative session, happens Thursday afternoon.
Here’s what Franklin Foil, Greg Cromer, Frank Howard, Mike Huval and Kenny Havard are in favor of by their opposition to giving the people the freedom to create educational change in Baton Rouge…
One could understand – not agree with, but understand – opposition to the Southeast ISD bill from legislators from, say, Livingston or Ascension parishes. After all, the horrid quality of public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish serves as an economic development engine for those parishes – and with that as a driver of their growth, the local governments in those parishes get to be as fat and happy as the politicians in them. There would naturally be a push from the local political bosses on leges from those parishes to vote against any change in East Baton Rouge that might make it more attractive to live in.
Word is he’s voting on behalf of Baton Rouge High and the other magnets in the system, which aren’t horrible in the way the rest of the parish’s schools are. The system has played up the magnet schools as somehow in grave danger of destruction in the event the southeastern part of the parish were to split off, though there is no factual showing that will be the case. It’s hard to excuse that position on his part.
As for Howard, Huval, Cromer and Havard, they have no excuse whatsoever.
If this issue irritates or upsets you and you’d like to get involved, why not contact these five legislators and let them know your views? Contact information can be found below…
Representative Gregory Cromer
Republican District 90
Contact Rep. Gregory Cromer
LEGISLATIVE AIDE: Mary DuBuisson
Representative Franklin J. Foil
Republican District 70
Contact Rep. Franklin J. Foil
LEGISLATIVE AIDE: Mallory Logan
Representative Kenneth E. Havard
Republican District 62
Contact Rep. Kenneth E. Havard
LEGISLATIVE AIDE: Diane Womack
Representative Frank A. Howard
Republican District 24
Contact Rep. Frank A. Howard
LEGISLATIVE AIDE: Kathy Brunkhardt