by Kenneth Cooper
And should it really be called an extraordinary session if it is the second special session of the year and the 9th in the past 5 years? How much is this costing us? And why did some Republicans show up without masks? Anyway…let’s look at Louisiana’s 2nd extraordinary special session.
Reason one why you should care about the alleged Louisiana Second Extraordinary Special Session:
The state is involved in more trust fund drama. Covid19 hit. Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency. A bunch of people to lost their jobs, and the state has been hemorrhaging money from its unemployment trust fund. A fund that was once sitting on a billion has now dwindled below $50 million. To prevent the state from violating the trust of its fund, a clause was inserted to recoup the spent money.
Under the clause, once the fund dips below a threshold, unemployment benefits have to begin to be reduced. Also the state must start collecting a 20% payroll tax from businesses, those that have survived Covid-19. In a rare agreement, the governor and Republican state legislators agree that neither should happen. Of course, they don’t agree on how to prevent it from happening. But rest assured they’ll make a spectacular spectacle out of coming to a compromise.
Another reason you should care about the alleged Louisiana Second Extraordinary Special Session:
The governor might just get neutered. The main issue is the Republican’s attempt to limit how much power this governor and future governors have during a state of emergency. Presently, that power is almost absolute. The governor can declare and extend a state of emergency. Also the governor may enforce any or all of its restrictions without the consent of the legislature.
RELATED: Legislative Insanity
If you’re the governor, that’s great. You have total control of your state. And you get to manage the state without having to negotiate with the legislature. If you’re a State Rep, then it kind of sucks. You still have listen to some of your constituents complain about not being able to open their businesses. All the while knowing there’s not much you can do to help.
Republicans want to limit the governor’s power during a state of emergency. They’ve filed petitions and a number of bills that range from limiting how long a state of emergency order can last without further legislative approval, to whether one could be essentially line item vetoed by the legislature, to outright ending the one we’re under now. The crux of their argument is that when the power to declare a state of emergency was given to a governor, no one imagined one lasting this long (7 months), and thereby having citizens and businesses subjected to restrictions set forth by the governor without any input from their representatives.
The governor has called the Republican argument a bunch of fried baloney. He says he regularly updates members of the legislature before making or announcing decisions. Gov Edwards says that the problem isn’t the power he wields. Legislators’ disagreement with the conclusions and decisions he’s made is the real issue. Bottom line, they just don’t like the outcome.
Typically in a tug of war, the goal is to have two groups position themselves on opposite ends of a rope and for each group to pull as hard as they can until they drag the other group over to their side. But sometimes it becomes apparent that neither side will budge, and when it does, the groups tend to resort to other measures, smaller victories. Typically, in the midst of pulling, one group will let go of the rope and watch the other group fall flat on their backsides. In this game of tug of war, the governor is doing just that.
So far the Republicans don’t appear to have a veto-proof margin to pass their bills through the House and Senate, which means this could all end with one big collective thud. We’ll see come October 27th, Louisiana’s alleged Second Extraordinary Session’s end date. Until then, stay tuned.