Seabaugh Says The Petition To Override JBE’s Emergency Has Its Majority

We expected this, though there has been some back-and-forth about whether some of the supporters had wavered – particularly after Gov. John Bel Edwards played his usual fearmongering card and threatened that an override of his emergency declaration would cost Louisiana hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.

It appears that didn’t work, ultimately. Maybe our post Friday about why the governor’s claims were garbage got around to the right people (it did get 17,000 page views, which for a post with a lot of math and statistical analysis in it is a lot more than we would have expected). In any event, Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), who’s in charge of circulating the petition to override the governor’s emergency, posted this earlier today…

There’s a little bit of naming-and-shaming lurking behind the statement that he’ll release the list of signers Wednesday if the emergency-override petition doesn’t have the required 53 signatures, because what’s likely going to happen is a pressure campaign from grassroots organizations and others consisting of calls, e-mails, social media outreach and so forth to those Republicans who haven’t signed asking them why they haven’t. The guess is that’s going to make life inconvenient enough for them that a lot of the more wishy-washy of them will just sign it out of convenience.

Or, as we predicted last week, Edwards is going to declare victory and retreat from the field.

He can’t really justify keeping the whole state shut down at this point from a public health standpoint. The federal-dollars claim isn’t all that valid, as we noted, though to the extent it is valid the easiest thing for Edwards to do is to suspend his economic shutdown while keeping his emergency declaration in place and thus head off the petition.

Right now what appears to be the issue holding Louisiana back from opening up is politics, as Edwards appears committed to the dictatorial style of a New York, Illinois, Michigan or New Jersey, in which Democrat governors seem determined to defy the people and the state legislatures by keeping economies closed despite increasing civil disobedience and unrest through more and more oppressive use of law enforcement.

We’re already beginning to see evidence Edwards is willing to go down that path, which isn’t a good idea. He threatened to sic the Fire Marshall and health department on businesses which defy his emergency shutdown by reopening…

Regulators are prepared to crack down on businesses that violate Louisiana’s “stay at home” order, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

He said the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Department of Health could help enforce the order, noting that businesses need permits to legally operate.

“We really hope it doesn’t come to that,” Edwards said.

Edwards on Thursday officially extended his order, which was about to expire, for two more weeks. He had announced plans to do so Monday.

Certain types of businesses, such as salons, barber shops, bars and casinos, are ordered to remain closed. Businesses deemed essential under federal guidelines can continue to operate.

Nonessential businesses can continue to operate as long as they have fewer than 10 people inside. The new order requires employees dealing with the public to wear masks.

While there has been talk about some local leaders loosening restrictions beyond what the state order allows starting Friday, Edwards said local leaders he has spoken to, such as West Feliciana Parish President Kenny Havard, aren’t doing anything that would violate the rules the order sets.

…while at the same time denying that he had actually put all the businesses he had shut down out of business

When Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that Louisiana’s stay-at-home order will continue at least another two weeks, he twice mentioned an aspect of his earlier March 22 order that raised some eyebrows: A vast swath of retail establishments between those deemed essential like grocery stores and those that were strictly verboten have never been told to close.

“Non-essential retail businesses have always been able to be open,” Edwards said at his daily press conference on the state’s coronavirus response, so long as they restrict capacity to 10 people and maintain social distance. “I encourage business owners to read the order closely.”

And as Edwards got pushback over the extension from GOP lawmakers in the days that followed, his administration further highlighted the order’s less-restrictive aspects. Chief of Staff Mark Cooper said on a Shreveport-area radio station Wednesday that people may be “surprised” at what’s allowed to be open, and that Louisiana’s restrictions are looser than Texas’ even before that state began a more robust reopening this week.

For Covington Mayor Mark Johnson, Edwards’ remarks were a revelation.

He took a cell phone video of the governor’s comments and quickly shared it with other St. Tammany mayors and Parish President Mike Cooper on a group text that they’ve been using to stay in touch. He called local businesses to let them know that the assumption many had made that they were ordered closed was mistaken.

“They said, ‘I would love to have 10 people in my store at one time,’” Johnson said.

It’s worth asking why, if all these businesses around the state didn’t need to be closed and Edwards and his staff saw that they were, he never messaged that fact. He can’t just tell those business owners they were stupid for not paying attention to him when it’s his responsibility, given his resources and the bully pulpit he has access to, to make himself properly understood.

For that reason it looks like this week the legislature is going to clip his wings. When your credibility is shot, your political power is soon to follow.

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