But let’s begin with the top priority the Louisiana affiliate of the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation identified this year, shall we? That would be the attempted destruction of the payday loan business – which as we uncovered a few weeks ago is part of a national left-wing attempt to effect a government takeover of the microlending business through the Post Office.
Except that priority hasn’t been met with a lot of success.
The main bill Together Louisiana was pushing in an effort to kill the payday loan industry was SB 84, by Ben Nevers. Initially, that bill would have restricted all lenders in Louisiana to charging a 36 percent APR – which would have meant the 20 percent interest rate commonly charged on a two-week payday loan would have to be spread out over more than six months in order to be legal – to meet a 36 percent APR standard for a two-week loan the interest rate would have to be 1.38 percent. That obviously didn’t fly, and Nevers had to amend his bill to wipe out the 36 percent limit.
His next attempt was to limit the number of payday loans anybody could take in a year to 10. That idea actually made it out of committee but when it went to the Senate floor last week it died – for a couple of reasons. First, you can’t enforce such a limit unless you have a database of who’s taking loans and when – which Nevers put in his bill. That database itself is completely obnoxious, and having the government involved in it is fraught with all kinds of potential for abuse – and who gets to access that database? Does Together Louisiana get to access it some sort of way? What would they do with it?
And second, the creation and maintenance of that database would have to be funded by something, so SB 84 included a fee to handle that. That fee is akin to a tax, and you need a two-thirds vote in the Senate to pass a tax. Ergo, SB 84 was done.
State Sen. Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales, asked Alario on Tuesday if the transaction fee triggered the two-thirds’ approval requirement associated with fee bills. “I’ll ponder that,” Alario said. Later, he said the bill would need two-thirds’ approval — or an often hard-to-gather 26 votes.
State Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, questioned what would happen if someone is 30 days away from receiving a settlement check and needed a loan to pay the house note but had already hit the 10-loan limit.
He said that person would lose his house.
“I just don’t agree we should tie the hands of business, tie the hands of individual consumers. I just don’t think that’s government’s place,” Crowe said.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Ben Nevers, said Florida limits borrowers to one payday loan per year. He said the annual limit in Oklahoma is two loans. “We’re talking about 10. We’re trying to be abundantly fair with industry,” he said.
Later, Nevers, D-Bogalusa, joked that SB84 was a lobbyist employment bill, noting the number of lobbyists working on payday lenders’ behalf. He said he was glad to help the state’s economy.
As a quick aside, is anybody else disgusted at Ben Nevers’ ignorance of economics? Where does he think the money comes from to pay lobbyists? Does he think the payday lenders who hired lobbyists to keep him and his neo-communist pals from killing their industry wouldn’t have invested that money into something more productive had he not threatened them? Or does he actually believe that paying lobbyists somehow has more salutary economic effects than, say, buying a new car or repainting one’s house or staking one’s nephew in a new business?
In any event, Together Louisiana also prioritized raising the state’s minimum wage. There were four bills filed in an attempt to jack that rate up, and in the committee hearings for those bills every card in the deck was played – from race to the Bible to econobabble to you-name-it.
All four died horrible deaths.
HB 356, by Reps. Herbert Dixon, Marcus Hunter and Ted James, couldn’t get out of the House Labor Committee Dixon chairs. Involuntarily Deferred.
SB 123, by Nevers, which would have been a constitutional amendment to establish a state minimum wage, was killed in the Senate Labor Committee without even so much as a dissenting vote (the video of the committee debate on the bill is fairly instructive).
Dixon’s House Labor Committee also pounded Rep. Jared Brossett’s HB 382 into dust.
Four bills, none of which even made it to a floor vote. If that’s not a wasted effort, nothing is.
Another priority for Together Louisiana was the Medicaid expansion. How’d that do?
How do you think?
Nevers had the key bill on that subject, SB 96, and couldn’t get it out of committee. This despite some Together Louisiana affiliates trying to pack the committee room with bodies to howl about it and a bunch of stupid rhetoric by Nevers and others about how either you put people on the Medicaid dole or they’ll die.
There are other Medicaid expansion bills still floating around. None have much of a chance to ever make it out of a committee. So it’s safe to say there was never a threat to make Medicaid expansion a real issue on the floor of either house of the state legislature this year.
That makes Together Louisiana 0-for-3 on their main legislative priorities this year.
Their other legislative priority was to try to kill the St. George incorporation. How’d they do with that one?
Well, Nevers tried to bring a bill that would place a moratorium on incorporations, and he only managed to keep that bill alive by delaying the moratorium until after the November election St. George should be decided in. And then there was a bill by Rep. Ed Price that would have changed the rules on incorporation petitions, which he also had to amend to specifically exclude St. George.
And then just this week the most obnoxious bill of the three, Rep. Ted James’ HB 1212 which would have made any incorporations subject to a full parish-wide vote, managed to get to the House floor before Rep. Hunter Greene laid a rhetorical beatdown to James so savage that the latter pulled his bill and returned it to the calendar, where it will sit until the end of the session.
So after working on three bills to kill St. George, it’s still alive. Together Louisiana lost again.
Meanwhile, there’s a website our readers have probably seen a banner here at the Hayride for, by a group called The Real Together Louisiana – which is out to expose the Alinskyites.
That group’s Facebook page has this heading…
As you’ll see, there are 3,780 likes. TRTL’s Facebook page went up on April 8.
As for Together Louisiana’s Facebook page, here’s the heading…
Together Louisiana’s Facebook page went up on May 21 of last year. So an organization set up to protest Together Louisiana is almost as big in a month as Together Louisiana is in a year.
There is humor in this.
It’s not over, of course. One thing we know about leftist organizations is they don’t give up. They’ll endure failure and humiliation perpetually, so long as they can find money to keep going – and there is no shortage of leftist foundations and donors with an itch they can’t scratch unless they can force themselves on others who will keep these guys going.
But for Broderick Bagert, the head honcho of this group who actually went so far as to endorse an attempt by corporate America to thwart the will of citizens to put an issue on a ballot, the current direction doesn’t look good. IAF tends to move its community organizers around when it begins to look like they’re no longer effective in their current positions, and at this rate Bagert might find himself some new digs soon. Perhaps someplace where the climate isn’t as warm as it is here.