That would be SB 674.
It’s a particularly obnoxious bill by Sen. Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa) which would impose basically a two-year moratorium on any municipal incorporations in Louisiana, for any purpose, while it creates a commission that would “study” the process of incorporation in Louisiana.
Which is an absolute crock. There was nothing wrong with the state’s process to incorporate new cities when Zachary was incorporated, or when Central was incorporated. And there is nothing wrong with that process now.
In fact, regardless of the effects of incorporating a new city that is a process which gets to the very heart of citizen-driven, participatory democracy. Creating bodies for self-government is as American as apple pie, and Louisiana does it very well.
Take St. George and the controversy in Baton Rouge out of the equation, and ask yourself why it should be necessary to deprive citizens of their right to self-governance.
Or better yet, ask Ben Nevers. Since he’s the guy who’s authoring this bill.
There’s another bill on the same subject which isn’t quite as obnoxious as Nevers’ bill is; that would be HB 768 by Ed Price (D-Gonzales) which would monkey around with the process by which incorporation petitions are submitted and arrive at the ballot box, and that bill will be heard tomorrow at the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs. The chair of that committee is Austin Badon, a Democrat from New Orleans who has no doubt heard the rumblings about the people in the Lakeview section of that city who would love to incorporate their own burg, and you can bet Badon will move Price’s bill to the House floor (there are 11 Democrats and five Republicans on the committee), where it is very likely to die.
In the Senate, Nevers’ bill will be heard in a committee just as Democrat-dominated. The Senate’s Local and Municipal Affairs committee is chaired by Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, the corrupt Baton Rouge Democrat, and the committee has four Democrats (Dorsey-Colomb, Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), Greg Tarver (D-Shreveport) and Sharon Weston Broome (D-Baton Rouge and the early favorite for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish in the 2016 elections)) to three Republicans (Fred Mills (R-New Iberia), Jonathan Perry (R-Kaplan) and Paige Cortez (R-Lafayette)), two of which are as weak as can be.
So Nevers – and Price – will get bills to the Senate and House floors which use the state legislature as a tool to interfere with participatory democracy on the local level.
But in the case of Nevers’ bill, a push is being made to get one of the state’s most powerful special interest groups behind blocking citizens from creating a ballot initiative – thanks to East Baton Rouge’s mayor-president Kip Holden…
Mayor-President Kip Holden is pushing a Senate bill, he believes, would give the city-parish more time to vet a move by residents in the southeast area of the parish to breakaway and form their own city.
Holden met with the Louisiana Municipal Association Wednesday to discuss Senate Bill 674, which was filed by Senator Ben Nevers (D- Bogalusa). The proposal places a moratorium on incorporation through 2015, essentially stalling the push to create the City of St. George.
The bad manners of this are striking, are they not? Holden has never once sought to honestly address the concerns of the people who live in what would be St. George in an effort to turn public opinion there against the idea of creating their own city out of the unincorporated parts of the parish. Instead he has spent all of his effort trying to demonize them in front of the rest of Baton Rouge – when all that matters in the St. George fight is what the people who live in St. George think. That’s the electorate from which the petition will come, and it’s the electorate that would decide the fate of the ballot initiative.
And everyone in St. George is a constituent of Kip Holden’s.
So rather than trying to win the argument among the people whom state law has designated as the arbiters of the question of the St. George incorporation, Holden has gone above their heads to the residents of the parish, which has been incredibly divisive. And now he’s trying to go to the legislature – above the heads of everyone in East Baton Rouge Parish – in order to change the rules to make participatory democracy where the question at issue is concerned illegal. At least until 2016.
And he’s choosing the Louisiana Municipal Association, which is a collection of mayors and parish presidents with a hodgepodge of agendas making them akin to the denizens of the cantina in the famous Star Wars scene, as his champion to push Nevers’ bill.
There really isn’t a condemnation suitable for this level of chicanery and below-board dealing. The execrable John Delgado’s foolish name-calling of the St. George organizers as terrorists and the Taliban generated lots of headlines and made him the laughingstock of Louisiana politics until Vance McAllister’s love-life turned up on viral video, but Delgado has never really been worth taking seriously.
Holden is a different story. What he’s doing could be consequential. It’s unlikely he can get Nevers’ bill through the legislature – or Price’s, for that matter – but the fact that he’s going to such lengths is instructive.