As of Louisiana legislature enters the final week of the regular session, I wanted to give an update on the legislative efforts to curtail Gov. John Bel Edwards’ emergency powers in order to re-open Louisiana. As you may be aware, there were two separate efforts to do so.
First, there was the Petition which requires the signatures of 53 members of the House or 20 members of the Senate. If enough signatures are obtained, the state of emergency related to COVID-19 will be over and control over restrictions and “reopening” will fall to parish presidents and mayors.
The second effort was the resolution filed by Representative Blake Miguez which left the emergency declaration in place, but took away all of the governors powers to enforce it. This effort had to be passed through the legislative process by a majority of both houses but was not subject to a veto. This effort effectively ended with the governor’s move to “Phase 1” on May 15.
While the petition received more than enough commitments from House members to put it into effect, I was not able to actually obtain some of the signatures. We currently have 37 signatures and have stalled out. Most of this was due to a misinformation campaign put out by the governor’s office attempting to convince legislators that ending the state of emergency would jeopardize Louisiana’s access to federal funds. These arguments have been debunked and fairly conclusively shown to be untrue (but what’s new from the governors office?).
While the governor’s decision to move to “Phase 1” on May 15, has taken most of the steam out of both efforts, I am continuing to attempt to gain signatures on the Petition and will move forward with the filing of the Petition if we can get 53.
For what it’s worth, I have talked to several representatives that originally committed but failed to sign who have informed me that if the governor does not move the state into Phase 2 on schedule (the first week of June) then they will be inclined to sign.
I regret that this effort stalled out and would very much like to completely end this state of emergency and get Louisiana completely re-opened and back to work as soon as possible. Fortunately, the legislature has called itself into special session beginning on June 1 ￼so we will all be together the first week of June just in case he does not follow through with the Phase 2 reopening plans.
To those of you who have been encouraging your legislators to sign, I ask you to please keep up the work. The only way to put an end to the economic devastation this is causing the state of Louisiana is to lift the restrictions and re-open now.