For decades, the state of Louisiana has been suffering. Our population and economic growth have been stagnant, while neighboring states have enjoyed tremendous success. It is no surprise that Louisiana has lost two congressional seats in recent years. Our policies have forced productive people to leave Louisiana in search of better opportunities.
One major problem has been in the political arena. The political class in Louisiana enjoys vast privileges, but there has been a limited appetite of voters to challenge them. Sadly, Louisiana voters have tolerated political corruption for too long. As the people have been enmeshed in poverty, politicians have profited from lucrative benefits and salaries.
Often, politicians have used corrupt methods to enrich themselves and have still been rewarded by the voters. A perfect example is former Governor Edwin Edwards, who was elected to four terms; however, there are plenty of other examples such as former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and former U.S. Congressman William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson.
Another ongoing issue has been the immense power of the Governor of Louisiana, who controls a multitude of appointments and has the line-item veto to wield over uncooperative legislators. Louisiana Governors always want the state government to grow because it gives them more influence.
Under Governor John Bel Edwards, the state budget has grown by an astounding $8 billion, while our economic growth has been the worst in the nation. As the state government has expanded, the private sector has contracted.
In Louisiana, the state government exercises too much control over ordinary citizens. The people of Louisiana have become accustomed to a large state government with too many employees making too many decisions. It is a vestige of the Huey Long era that is still plaguing our state almost one hundred years later.
This has occurred because voters have not been engaged and not involved enough in the decision making in Baton Rouge. Liberal Democrat Governor Edwards has been thumbing his nose at legislators and the people of our state for years. His arrogance was on full display during the pandemic as he forced mask mandates and an economic lockdown on the citizens of Louisiana. While neighboring states enjoyed freedom and prosperity, Louisiana suffered under the yoke of a power-hungry Governor.
This motivated some voters to launch a recall of Governor Edwards. The hope was to reach 600,000 signatures, or 20% of the total number of voters, and force a recall election. This succeeded in California as Governor Gavin Newsom will now be facing a recall election after his opponents generated petitions with over 1.7 million signatures.
Of course, in Louisiana, our laid-back voters did not become engaged and recall organizers only generated 26,000 signatures, not even 5% of the total number needed to force a recall.
Fortunately, this destructive apathy may finally be coming to an end as there are encouraging signs of change. For the first time in history, there will be a legislative veto override session, scheduled to start next Tuesday July 20. It must end by Saturday July 24.
In the Louisiana House of Representatives, 69 of 105 members agreed with the need for a veto override session, along with 27 of 39 members in the State Senate. It was significantly higher than the 50% support required for a session to be called.
The session will give legislators an opportunity to override any of the 31 vetoes dispensed by Governor Edwards. This is the highest number since 1991 when Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer issued 52 vetoes.
This historic decision did not occur in a vacuum. It was the result of tremendous grassroots pressure from a wide range of conservative organizations and activists. I was pleased to participate in that effort on my radio show, Ringside Politics, WGSO 990-AM, Wgso.com, M-F, 7-11 a.m.
I begged, pleaded, and implored my listeners to contact legislators to encourage them to support a veto override session. It worked as voters were truly angry at the Governor, who displayed such a cavalier attitude toward the people of Louisiana by vetoing so many bills on issues such as transgender participation in athletic competitions, second amendment rights, election integrity and medical discrimination.
The next positive step will be for the legislators to override some of these vetoes. It will be a difficult challenge as it will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Not surprisingly, it has only happened twice in state history. The first veto override occurred in the tumultuous year of 1991 during the Roemer administration. At that time, legislators overrode the Governor’s veto of an abortion bill.
The next veto override occurred in 1993 during the administration of Governor Edwin Edwards. Legislators overrode the Governor’s veto of an appropriation bill that removed $3 million from the office of the Louisiana Attorney General.
In the past 28 years, there have been zero veto overrides. Hopefully, this session will be the opportunity to make more history. The Governor is out of step with legislators and the people of Louisiana. He is a liberal Democrat serving the interests of his radical party and not the conservative voters of his state.
We need to demand that legislators exert their influence and truly establish their independence from the Governor. Legislators represent a separate branch of state government and were sent to Baton Rouge to be a check on the power of the Governor. Their conservative constituents did not elect Republican legislators to do the bidding of a liberal Governor.
Concerned citizens have made a great start, as this historic veto override session indicates, but much more needs to be done. This activism must be sustained in this critical next week. Voters need to be engaged and in regular contact with legislators.
The message must be clear, we expect legislators to override these dubious vetoes. If not, we will make sure the voters remember at the next election, which is only two years away.
This is much needed political pressure from grassroots citizens, not special interest groups. This type of pressure has been absent from our political scene for many years. It is time the voters of Louisiana started wielding the immense power that they have at their disposal.
Today, there is a disconnect between the state government and the voters. It must change if Louisiana is ever going to compete with other states and become a desirable place to live.
The revolution has begun, and it must not end until the state government truly represents the will of the people of Louisiana.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs nationally on Real America’s Voice Network, AmericasVoice.News weekdays at 7 a.m. CT and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on Crouere.net. For more information, email him at [email protected]