Oh dread, Washington style politics are infecting the Louisiana legislature! Give me a break! This nonsense crafted by the minority party and amplified by constant media regurgitation is all the rage. Last week a very liberal House member lost a bill in committee and immediately blamed political partisans for her failure to sell a bad idea. Of course her comments were all over the media, Washington is coming to block the left wing agenda, how unfair that is!
Could any of this fear be true? Well history tells us that it has been tradition in Louisiana for a dominant governor to be assured that a servile Legislature would follow his lead on virtually every matter. The glue that held this process in place was always the same, capital outlay money that a governor could use as a carrot or a stick. But now capital outlays funds have dried up, what to do?
Of course in order for the orderly execution of the governor’s demands he always needed legislative leaders who would adhere to his every need. This leadership role in the Legislature has always been eagerly filled by a Speaker and a President who could be counted on to keep reticent legislators in line by using a number of tools; committee assignments and chairmanships, assistance with or blocking the passage of legislation, and many other perks all controlled by this leadership team. Until recently it had always been a very smooth running operation, the governor expressed his desires and the legislature obediently followed his demands. Clearly this tradition was not the Washington Way; no, it was the Louisiana Way!
Ironically no one in the media complained about the Louisiana Way, there was no outrage that the people were being shortchanged as they truly had only an oligarchic form of government. And what has this Louisiana Way done for the people of our state? Despite being an asset rich state, we are last in virtually every socio-economic measure. The Louisiana Way has been an abysmal failure!
So now the world appears to have changed in the Louisiana legislature. The House has declared its independence, it has made it known that it is indeed a co-equal element of government. No more does the governor have the ability to buy or bully votes in the House. Either he proposes good legislation or he loses. The liberal left is howling with outrage; Washington is coming, the Louisiana Way is dead!
Sadly the Senate has not fully accepted its role as a co-equal partner, it remains at least to some extent stuck in the Louisiana Way. But that is subtly changing too. The overwhelming vote for President Trump, having only one Democrat statewide officeholder, and the lack of capital outlay funding are having an effect. The Senators realize that the people are demanding more efficient government and no new taxation. This attitude is creating fundamental changes in the Senate as well.
Now that the Louisiana Way is at least partly dead the problem for the Administration is that it will have to change its approach to the Louisiana legislature. In the future the Administration will have to present legislation in the context of a vision for our future, something it that has never done. Now the Administration will have to negotiate with a co-equal branch of government, as legislators are free to vote according to their principles and not to blindly follow the governor’s principles. The battle lines are drawn, Louisiana will finally get the opportunity for true debate on its future. The people will finally get what was promised by their constitution, legitimate government practices that will lead to compromise. Wow, compromise, that concept that has been lost on Washington is coming to Louisiana! Just the opposite of the great evil that the left and its allies in the media would have the people believe.
To the media; no, Washington politics are not taking over. The Louisiana legislature is only expressing its constitutional duty to work with the governor when it agrees with him and to work against the governor when it disagrees. To the left wing; outrage over the perceived evil of Washington politics will not help you convince legislators to think your way.
Those of us who reflect conservative values are just finally operating under a new convention; a new form of interaction that was supposed to have dominated legislative/executive relations since the Constitution was drafted.