A resolution which passed in the Louisiana House by a 69-30 count couldn’t even get to the Senate floor, thanks to two Republicans on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee who wouldn’t take a position on it.
Senate Health and Welfare might be the worst-built committee in the Louisiana legislature, which is saying something. It has an exceptionally weak 5-4 Republican majority and an even weaker chairman in Fred Mills, a New Iberia pharmacist who’s in his third term. Mills was a Democrat practically five minutes before he decided to run for office; before that he was known for crossdressing on TV in hopes of selling drugs, and that notoriety got him elected.
Mills is essentially Big Pharma’s pipeline into the Louisiana Senate, so of course he would be put in as chairman of the committee which makes health policy.
The four Democrats on the committee include three black senators – Regina Barrow, Gerald Boudreaux, and Gary Carter – and the infamous and obnoxious Jay Luneau. Compared to them the Republicans – Mills, J. Rogers Pope, Beth Mizell, Patrick McMath and Bob Hensgens – are pretty docile.
There needed to be at least a 6-3 Republican majority on that committee seeing as though it oversees the Louisiana Department of Health which eats up more than half of Louisiana’s budget every year. Did we get that? No. There isn’t even a Republican firebrand on the committee to shout down Luneau.
And Mills as a committee chairman? You’d say he lacks spine, but that would imply that he’s actually on the side of conservatives. He isn’t.
So today, HCR 3, which is a resolution authored by Rep. Larry Bagley that would cancel the decision by Gov. John Bel Edwards to impose a mandated COVID vaccination on school kids, went before Senate Health and Welfare.
There was a good deal of testimony ready on the bill, but of course Mills made sure there were 24 other pieces of legislation to be debated, and the experts in favor of the resolution got very short shrift. Meanwhile, two doctors speaking against it got all the time they wanted.
Bagley is the chairman of the analogous House committee to Senate Health and Welfare. You would think he could get his bills to the Senate floor as a matter of courtesy in a Republican legislature.
But instead we were treated to Barrow’s sob story about getting COVID and losing her husband to the virus, which was certainly heartbreaking but not altogether relevant to whether giving COVID shots to fourth-graders not in any real danger from it is a good idea. There isn’t a whole lot of evidence that healthy kids getting exposed to the virus pass it on to their parents, and while it’s rare there’s definitely evidence that the COVID vaccines have some pretty deleterious side effects like blood clots, myocarditis and even leukemia. The idea that you’d impose this on kids who aren’t likely to suffer major symptoms from the virus is nuts.
But Big Pharma makes a lot of money off those vaccines, so out come the needles.
The four Democrats screamed about how it’s somehow racist if you don’t want to give the jab to school kids, because black people get COVID more than anybody else does. That there is zero rational sense behind such arguments isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Democrats use race to mask their stupid arguments, because when they’re couched in race nobody has the courage to take them apart.
And Hensgens, Mizell and McMath did all they could to fight off those arguments, but it was hopeless.
Pope wasn’t around, even though this was known as an important vote. With him gone it was a 4-4 committee. At best. We say at best because the four Democrats voted to kill the resolution, and with Hensgens, Mizell and McMath voting for it Mills could have created a tie. But he didn’t. He wouldn’t make a vote and HCR 3 died in committee.
This kind of performance doesn’t speak well of the leadership in Louisiana’s legislature.
A week ago at our Hayride Baton Rouge dinner, syndicated radio host Moon Griffon ruffled a few feathers giving a speech in which he castigated the Legislature for atrocious, spineless leadership. Most of the legislators in attendance weren’t offended; they’re the conservatives who complain about that very thing. A few weren’t happy.
Well, to them: this is precisely what Griffon was talking about.
Every other legislature in the South would have had a Health and Welfare Committee chairman who would have made sure that resolution got out to the floor. In Louisiana it dies because the leadership doesn’t want to pick a pick with Edwards over COVID even in the summer of 2022 when it’s obvious his policies have been a useless waste.
This is why Republican voters in this state have very little appreciation for its Republican legislative majority. And very little faith that it’ll get substantially better until the deck is reshuffled and people like Fred Mills and Senate President and future lobbyist at the capitol Page Cortez are termed out.