UPDATED: Sure Seems Like JBE Has His Bureaucrats Flagrantly Breaking The Law Today…

We have three e-mails to show you which have been blasted out to lobbyists, some media people and other insiders at the State Capitol today, when there has been no official activity surrounding the sitzkreig that is the 2018 Louisiana legislative special session.

Here was the first, from Bambi Polotzola, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs

From: Bambi Polotzola <[email protected]>
Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 9:10 AM
Subject: Important: Action Needed Asap

Friends,

We need your help to ensure that the House takes action on several revenue measures pending on the House Floor. Our Republican friends need the most attention. Phone calls, emails, personal outreach, action on social media are all important at this point. Here is the link to the contact information for all Representatives: http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Reps/H_Reps_FullInfo.aspx.

Please engage your friends and members across the state and request their help to urge the House to resolve the state’s fiscal cliff. They should begin making calls immediately in support of these measures. If you learn any information please let me know.

These bills are scheduled for House Floor debate this Wednesday, February 28th.

HB 8 by Rep. Leger – Allows taxpayers to deduct 100% of excess federal itemized personal deductions but excludes income and general sales taxes paid or accrued from the list of items included in the calculation of the amount of the deduction. ($79M)

HB 14 by Rep. Leger – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 109 of the 2015 R.S. relative to the individual income tax credit for net taxes paid to other states. ($35M)

HB 16 by Rep. Leger – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 126 of the 2015 R.S. relative to the following rebate programs: Quality Jobs Program, Corporate Headquarters Relocation Program, and the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive Program. ($0 in Year 1)

HB 22 by Rep. Shadoin – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 123 of the 2015 R.S. relative to tax exclusions and deductions. ($17M)

HB 23 by Rep. Dwight – Retains 1/4th of the 5th penny and cleans pennies. ($218M)

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Bambi Polotzola
Executive Director
Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs

O: 225.219.7550 C: 225.421.6857
[email protected]
gov.louisiana.gov

Here was the second, this one from Dana Hunter, the Executive Director of the Children’s Cabinet

From: Dana Hunter <[email protected]>
Date: February 27, 2018 at 12:43:19 PM CST
To: Dana Hunter <[email protected]>
Cc: Dana Hunter <[email protected]>
Subject: PLEASE READ: WE NEED YOUR HELP

Dear Friends, We need your help to ensure that the House takes action on several revenue measures pending on the House Floor. Our Republican friends need the most attention. Phone calls, emails, personal outreach, action on social media are all important at this point.

Please engage your friends and members across the state and request their help to urge the House to resolve the state’s fiscal cliff. They should begin making calls immediately in support of these measures. Also, if you learn any information please let us know.

***These bills are scheduled for House Floor debate this Wednesday, February 28th.

HB 8 by Rep. Leger – Allows taxpayers to deduct 100% of excess federal itemized personal deductions but excludes income and general sales taxes paid or accrued from the list of items included in the calculation of the amount of the deduction. ($79M)

HB 14 by Rep. Leger – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 109 of the 2015 R.S. relative to the individual income tax credit for net taxes paid to other states. ($35M)

HB 16 by Rep. Leger – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 126 of the 2015 R.S. relative to the following rebate programs: Quality Jobs Program, Corporate Headquarters Relocation Program, and the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive Program. ($0 in Year 1)

HB 22 by Rep. Shadoin – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 123 of the 2015 R.S. relative to tax exclusions and deductions. ($17M)

HB 23 by Rep. Dwight – Retains 1/4th of the 5th penny and cleans pennies. ($218M)

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Kindly, Dr. Dana R. Hunter

Dr. Dana R. Hunter
Executive Director
Children’s Cabinet

(225)219- 4999 (office)
[email protected]

And here’s a third one, this from Shanta Proctor, who’s the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy

From: Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 9:25 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: We need your support Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT

Friends, We need your help to ensure that the House takes action on several revenue measures pending on the House Floor. Our Republican friends need the most attention. Phone calls, emails, personal outreach, action on social media are all important at this point.

Please engage your friends and members across the state and request their help to urge the House to resolve the state’s fiscal cliff. They should begin making calls immediately in support of these measures. If you learn any information please let us know.

These bills are scheduled for House Floor debate this Wednesday, February 28th.

HB 8 by Rep. Leger – Allows taxpayers to deduct 100% of excess federal itemized personal deductions but excludes income and general sales taxes paid or accrued from the list of items included in the calculation of the amount of the deduction. ($79M)

HB 14 by Rep. Leger – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 109 of the 2015 R.S. relative to the individual income tax credit for net taxes paid to other states. ($35M)

HB 16 by Rep. Leger – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 126 of the 2015 R.S. relative to the following rebate programs: Quality Jobs Program, Corporate Headquarters Relocation Program, and the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive Program. ($0 in Year 1)

HB 22 by Rep. Shadoin – Removes the three-year sunset provision of Act No. 123 of the 2015 R.S. relative to tax exclusions and deductions. ($17M)

HB 23 by Rep. Dwight – Retains 1/4th of the 5th penny and cleans pennies. ($218M)

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy

Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy | P.O. Box 94004, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

So obviously, a form e-mail JBE’s functionaries are blasting to their contact lists.

Here’s a question. Wouldn’t this be a fairly bright-line violation of LA Rev Stat § 24:56, Section F?

F. No state employee in his official capacity or on behalf of his employer shall lobby for or against any matter intended to have the effect of law pending before the legislature or any committee thereof. Nothing herein shall prohibit the dissemination of factual information relative to any such matter or the use of public meeting rooms or meeting facilities available to all citizens to lobby for or against any such matter.

We’re having trouble figuring out how the three emails above would not violate that statute. Clearly they’re lobbying for tax increases and clearly they’re doing it under color of state employment. Here was the bottom of the e-mail Polotzola sent out…

Yikes. The governor’s seal.

Perhaps the defense to this, assuming it didn’t go directly to any state legislators, is that soliciting others to lobby for those tax increases isn’t exactly lobbying. That’s a pretty cheap dodge around the law which violates its spirit, and this was passed along to us by a lege who was pretty steamed about it, adamant it’s illegal and said it’s the talk of the Legislature – at least in the House – today.

It does seem to smack of desperation. The word we’ve heard from several members of the House is they’ve had it with this session and they’re not going to vote for any of these tax increases, and that was pretty much a consensus after the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus blew up the session by demanding a colossal income tax increase on the state’s working class people yesterday. If that’s so, and we’ve heard talk like this before from House members only to see them wilt under pressure from the state’s media and special interests so we can’t say it’s so with any great degree of confidence, then it would explain Edwards sending his people out to plead with everyone in earshot to ratchet up the pressure on the House to pass those tax bills – all $350 million worth.

They want it so badly they’re willing to at least skirt state law.

UPDATE: We’ve had a few more conversations about this, and it sure seems there’s a growing consensus of sorts that JBE’s bureaucrats went over the line with these e-mails.

The key question in assessing whether JBE’s people broke the law in sending the e-mails is what exactly constitutes “lobbying.” In Title 24, section 51 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, we have an answer…

(4) “Lobbying” or “to lobby” means any of the following:

(a) Any direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation.

(b) Any preparation or research specifically intended, at the time it is performed, for use in or in support of any ongoing or planned direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation.

(c) Conducting or attending a meeting the purpose of which is to discuss direct communication with a legislator to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation.

If nothing else you could certainly construe those e-mails as “preparations” intended in support of direct acts or communications with legislators to influence the passage of legislation. Which would make them lobbying efforts, which would mean JBE’s people broke the law.

Along these lines we’re told one state legislator told Polotzola, the Executive Director of the Office of Disability Affairs, that her e-mail broke the law. Her response was that La. R.S. 24:56 (f) doesn’t apply to her because she’s an “unclassified” state employee. But if you see the statute above, it doesn’t care whether you’re classified or unclassified; if you’re a state employee you’re covered, period. So that won’t fly.

And more, that the matter was put before Daryl Purpera, the state Legislative Auditor, and he thought it was a pretty blatant violation of the law.

So yeah, they broke the law. We’d be willing to bet somebody is going to mention that on the House floor tomorrow.

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