The list of Republican state reps who voted with the ambulance chasers to deny you a right to a trial by jury if you get sued for under $50,000 in Louisiana is as follows…
Dee Richard (who’s an independent who likes to play himself off as a “conservative”)
Oscar just did a piece on the failure of the jury trial threshold bill a little while ago. Read it for background here.
Other than maybe Lopinto, none of these guys are any good . Most of the rest are Democrat turncoats or ambulance chasers themselves. Every one of them needs a legitimate conservative challenger next year – and my guess is LABI and the other business groups will be quite happy to provide resources for that to happen.
A Sherman Mack, for example, particularly needs to go. Mack represents one of the most conservative legislative districts in America, and he votes as though he was John Edwards (that would be John Edwards with the hair and the psycho baby mama who got paid hush money by campaign donors, not the blowhard from Amite who as it happens voted exactly like Mack did on this bill).
While the death of Ray Garofalo’s jury trial threshold bill tonight – which at the end of the day was the centerpiece of a VERY modest tort reform agenda for this session – is a bitter pill for the business community and the conservative movement in Louisiana, we should probably thank the leges on that list.
Because thanks to that vote, we now have a very crystal-clear picture of exactly what kind of state legislature we have in Louisiana.
For the first few years of Bobby Jindal’s tenure as governor, there was great momentum to enact conservative reforms in this state. Jindal had a whip hand with the legislature based on massive approval ratings, and with the Louisiana Democrat Party in complete collapse there were lots of turncoat “moderates” who, having abandoned the Dems, were willing to vote however Jindal wanted in order to ingratiate themselves with their new friends on the “R” side.
But all of that was cotton candy in terms of knowing what kind of legislature we really had. Which is not to diminish the good things Jindal got through that legislature; in fact, he probably should begin getting more credit than he’s gotten for what he was able to get done.
Now, though, when Jindal is less than two years from being out of office and onto the 2016 campaign trail full-time and he’s not the dominant figure at the Capitol he has been, we know what we really have.
And what we have, generally speaking, is a lot of crap. We have a lot of people who call themselves Republicans, and some of the more brazen ones like Mack might even call themselves conservatives, but in truth they’re the same unprincipled, go-along-to-get-along squishes Louisiana’s legislature has always been filled with. A couple of decades ago – hell, 10 years ago – these people would have run as Democrats and cozied up to a Kathleen Blanco or Edwin Edwards. They brand themselves as Republicans to get elected, but they don’t walk the walk when anything is at stake. And if there’s a tough vote, you can pretty much expect them to stab you in the back.
This is valuable information. Because it does two things if you’re a LABI and you have the ability to influence how PAC money flows from the business community into next year’s election cycle. First, it allows you to go to your membership and show them this vote as an example of how just because there is a nominally Republican majority in the House and Senate, that doesn’t mean the fight is won. It’s anything but won. It’s barely half won.
And second, you now have a list of the worst offenders on the Republican side, the “courthouse Republicans” who sold out their conservatism, such as it is, to curry favor with a bunch of local district judges who make close to $200,000 a year on their way to a 2:00 tee time on weekday afternoons. Bubba Chaney, who was a Democrat not long ago, voted to table HB 917 because he got a phone call from some judge who made him take a dump in his pants. Bubba Chaney is a lot more afraid of a few judges at the courthouse in Rayville than he is of the people who create the tax base that pays his salary. It’s important to know that about Chaney, just like it’s important to know it about Mack, and Eddie Lambert – whose wife is a district judge – and Dee Richard.
Richard, by the way, had said he would vote for the bill. He turns his coat all the time. He’ll say he’s an independent for a reason, but he’s basically useless other than to carry John Kennedy’s “fiscally conservative” bills every year about cutting state contracts and not replacing prison guards when they quit – and since those bills are dead on arrival every year Richard is just about as worthless a legislator as there is in the state.
They need to go. We need better legislators than Thomas Willmott, who is actually carrying Charlie Melancon’s idiotic bill on behalf of the elevator workers’ union that would require every elevator in the state to be inspected every single year by a (unionized) elevator inspector. Willmott is also carrying that moronic bill we talked about yesterday which would dictate that nobody could have a dog in the bed of a pickup if they drive on the highway. This guy is a Republican, for crying out loud.
And while Chuck Kleckley is a good conservative, Kleckley bears a lot of responsibility for the poor quality of the House of Representatives. He’s the Speaker. Why does he have a Labor Committee chaired by a leftist Democrat in Herbert Dixon? Why does that committee only have eight Republicans, seven Democrats and Richard? Why is the House Municipal Committee chaired by Austin Badon and has 11 Democrats and five Republicans? Why can’t the centerpiece tort reform bill of the session pass through his legislature?
One would prefer to see a Speaker who would catch Willmott trying to pass a dogs-in-pickup-trucks bill, call him in and read him the riot act about how he’s poisoning the Republican brand bringing dipshit bills like that, and that Republicans are supposed to be about freedom, instead of the nanny state, and if he wants to bring garbage like that in this legislature he can do it with a D next to his name and no committee assignments.
We now know our legislature is garbage. They’re on their own without a strong, engaged governor to lead them, and they’re showing their colors.
There is work to do.