This isn’t a gigantic surprise, as we told you when the bill was errantly moved from the Senate Education Committee, where it was guaranteed a friendly hearing and where according to the Senate’s committee structure it belonged, to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, where there are five African-American Democrats out of nine members and the chair is Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, that it was a dead bill walking.
And as of right now, that’s what it is.
Sen. Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton), the author of the bill which would create a state historical protection commission to review questions like whether the city of New Orleans would be able to knock down the statue in the middle of Lee Circle, or for that matter the one in the middle of Jackson Square, voluntarily deferred the bill in the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee this afternoon – meaning that she reserves the right to bring it back up later in the session but in practice isn’t likely to do so because it isn’t likely she’ll be able to get a majority vote for it.
Peterson gloated a bit after the hearing, for the benefit of the people who had showed up in support of the bill and the idea of not knocking down the historical monuments in New Orleans in a fit of political correctness. “We’re ready to have a fair hearing on that bill whenever she’s ready for it to be heard,” Peterson said.
The only way it could pass out of the committee is if two of the five African-American Democrats were to “walk” on the bill before the vote and all four Republicans were to be there.
Karen Carter Peterson is not going to allow that to happen. She is not going to allow that bill to go to the Senate floor. If it got there it would pass, and it would go to the House where it would pass. And that would put John Bel Edwards in a position of having to veto a bill the subject matter and aim of which, namely, preventing those monuments from being knocked down, is favored by two-thirds of the voters of this state.
This would be a disaster for the Louisiana Democrat Party, and they will not allow it to happen.
Mizell has some options, mostly including trying to put her bill in as an amendment on some other vehicle which does not go through Peterson’s committee. For now, though, SB 276 is in purgatory.