JOHNSON: A Rough Day At The Louisiana Senate

Editor’s Note: A guest post by State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City)…

After a valiant effort, we lost two important bills in Senate committees this morning by one vote each.

The Pastor Protection Act (HB 597), which passed the House last month by a landslide 80-18 vote, fell victim after an hour of spirited debate. The bill was a very simple measure to ensure that a religious leader cannot be forced by the government to conduct a wedding ceremony that violates his or her sincerely held religious belief. By one vote, the committee killed the bill, and, I believe, jeopardized the religious freedoms and tax exempt status of the conservative clergy and churches of our state. I was grateful for the army of pastors who showed up today to support the bill, from all parts of the state and from many denominations. I was also grateful for the opportunity in committee to explain some important concepts, such the true meaning of the often misused phrase, “separation of church and state.” (See my lively exchange with Sen. Peterson on that question beginning at 0:45 on the video: http://senate.la.gov/video/videoarchive.asp…)

I left that Senate committee and went right to the next one, where we battled again to pass the Illegal Alien Sanctuary Cities Prohibition Act (HB 1148), but ultimately lost that one by one vote as well. Attorney General Jeff Landry, Rep. Valarie Hodges, and I did all we could because that legislation was crucial to maintain order, national security, and the rule of law. Not only are illegals in Louisiana receiving benefits at taxpayers’ expense, some of them are violent criminals who are jeopardizing the safety of every law-abiding citizen.

In spite of the morning’s outcome, I am undaunted. In 1976, when Ronald Reagan lost his initial bid for the Republican nomination for president, he famously consoled his many supporters. I’ve always loved how he took the long view: “Yes, we lost, but the cause–the cause goes on.” He then quoted the lines of an old Scottish ballad, “I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile; though I am wounded, I am not slain. I shall rise and fight again.”

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Onward.

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