On the whole we’ve been somewhat pleased with the direction the state legislature in Louisiana is moving. It’s becoming more conservative, and conservatives are becoming more savvy in the use of political power.
They’re becoming less afraid of the fringe radical propaganda shop that is the Baton Rouge Advocate, and affording it less influence on their policy-making decisions.
And while the leadership in that legislature – in the person of House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez – is as bad as we’ve seen, the rank-and-file membership might actually be better on the whole than it’s ever been.
But “better” doesn’t mean “good,” and yesterday we saw an example of that.
The Louisiana House passed a bill that would make menstrual products available for free to public school students.
According to HB117, schools would be required to have menstrual products easily accessible to students. These menstrual products include pads and tampons. Charter schools are exempt from the bill.
The bill was proposed by Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans in last year’s regular session. It was reintroduced in March 2023.
In a study, one out of four teen girls missed class due to a lack of access to feminine products in 2021.
The bill passed by a 79-17 vote on Wednesday.
Our readers might remember that we included HB 117 among our Terrible Bills O’ The Day back in mid-April. It’s not that we’re opposed to teenage girls in public schools having access to tampons, but because it’s an entirely idiotic idea that this is something which must be legislated in state statute.
This is a problem school principals, or school boards at maximum, ought to be able to solve at the local or hyperlocal level. It’s a ridiculous overreach by state government to force this on the public.
And of course the bill passes with 79 votes because so many House members get scared that they’re going to get called misogynists or sexists or whatever for not voting to give free stuff to teenage girls. Which is utterly stupid, but they don’t get that far. The herd gets spooked when it sees cheetahs and lions, and the herd takes off all in the same direction.
Which is why bills like this should be killed in committee. The job of members of a majority serving in a committee is to kill stupid bills like this in the committee so that everybody else in the body isn’t subjected to votes like this on the floor. But naturally that job was not done; in fact, the bill got out of both the Education and Appropriations committees without a single “no” vote.
But forget about the fact this is a stupid bill. Sometimes you go ahead and pass stupid bills. Sometimes a vanity project like this one, in which Aimee Freeman gets to go back to the coffee klatches of uptown New Orleans and get together with all of the other upscale women to brag about how she did such good for the poor, mostly-black girls in the public schools who’ll now have tampons at the ready because of her munificence with our tax dollars (and meanwhile, the local school boards which dispense more than enough money to take care of this issue without the state butting in will have more slack in their budgets for their employees to waste and steal), is OK to pass.
Except Aimee Freeman is a Democrat in a Republican House.
And a properly-run Republican House doesn’t pass vanity-project bills for Democrats. Not without securing confiscatory prices in the way of promised votes on things the majority demands.
For example, the House passed a budget which refuses to break the state’s spending caps, and invests its surplus in debt relief. Was Aimee Freeman on board with that?
Nope. She was one of 33 “no” votes on the budget. We asked around, and nobody could tell us if Aimee Freeman had the arm put on her to give a key vote on anything else, either.
Why is Aimee Freeman getting to pass a bullshit bill like this without having to bend the knee to the majority?
The Louisiana House of Representatives has less than a third of its members with D’s next to their names. The vast majority of those are black Democrats. Aimee Freeman is one of only a handful (it’s her, Robbie Carter, Roy Daryl Adams, Mandie Landry, Mack Cormier and Chad Brown) of white Democrats in the House.
This ought to make Aimee Freeman utterly irrelevant. She should have to trade her soul just to get a park named for someone, or to have some constituent’s daughter recognized for getting accepted to space camp. Instead the Republicans who run the House are letting her spend hundreds of thousands of state dollars a year, and she isn’t being forced to offer anything in return?
Why wasn’t an amendment put on this bill banning the availability of tampons in boys’ bathrooms at public schools? That’s a stupid amendment, obviously, but it’s at least some imposition of conservative values on a redistributive leftist bill. Such an amendment would force Aimee Freeman, who votes to mutilate emotionally distressed children in the name of transgenderism, to accept a rejection of that satanic ideology – banning tampons in boys’ bathrooms would mean that Louisiana doesn’t accept biological girls calling themselves boys, not to mention that our elected representatives are not morons and know damn well what kind of abject tomfoolery would surely come from putting feminine hygeine products in the hands of the jakelegs and pranksters who inhabit high school boys’ bathrooms.
There’s still a long way to go. This legislature is going to need much better leadership. But more than that, we need a lot more legislators who understand political power and its uses, because right now there is a massive deficit on that score.