A Day Left But Not A Dollar Short At The State Legislature

By the time you read this our legislators will probably have done something dumb. Yes, there’s only a day left, well actually a couple of hours, before this year’s legislative session is over. But it’s bound to happen. I have full faith and confidence in their ability to come together and wreak one last bit of havoc.

Some say their best opportunity will come when they vote on HB37. You probably remember HB37, but may be having trouble recognizing it now. HB37, the bill formally known as the bill to remove the permit and training requirements to conceal carry a gun has now morphed into the bill to arm teachers. Yep, we’re back there again.

After another deranged person gunned down another mass amount of people (children this time), legislators all over vowed to once again do the inevitable something. Since our legislature is majority Republican that something has the familiar right-wing tilt.

In their view, the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to arm more good guys. The good guys in this scenario are teachers. Yes, the same underpaid, under-appreciated group of public employees who Republicans villainize for doing sensible things like forming a union or teaching about slavery. Now the plan once again is to arm those guys.  

Maybe legislators consider this a raise of some sort, a bonus to make up for the pittance of a raise teachers are scheduled to receive once this session is done. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers has already come out against the bill. And all other teachers should be like, “ummm…why would my under-paid, under-appreciated self be entrusted to or want to take on the responsibility of shooting somebody behind your child?”

In other legislative news, there’s still no word on Rep. Royce Duplessis’ bill to protect African American history. The bill is HB798. As we’ve said before, it’s a simple bill, no CRT involved, that just says no school district or teacher can put out a curriculum that deviates from the state standards for African American history. That’s it. Yet, there it is still just dangling in the Education committee like one of those chores your child takes forever to get to.

On the other hand, Rep. Matthew Willard’s bill (HB248), the one that would remove Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from the state roll, is on its way to final passage. After coasting out of the House, it cruised right on out of the Senate (28-4) with a minor amendment. All that’s left now is for the House to concur, and it’s on its way to the governor’s desk. Then boom. Just like that, it’ll stand as a testament that politicians are still capable of gathering together and making sense.

When it came to the state budget, legislators actually did do something sensible. Instead of using the one-time $2 billion surplus as an excuse to cut taxes, they decided to use the money to do something responsible like fixing our raggedy streets and bridges. Maybe that’ll eventually mean no more pot-holes on the interstates and sink holes in the streets. Or maybe it’ll mean more poorly planned construction. We shall see.

But the clock is ticking and ready to strike an end to this session. Legislators will then retreat to the anonymity of their day jobs while plotting their moves for next session. Expect to see Sen. Joe Bouie once again attempt to force the OPSB into taking back control of our schools. And expect to see Rep. Mandie Landry once again try to enact some type of gun legislation.

Just because the session ends and legislators are no longer at the capitol, it doesn’t mean they’re off duty, though. If you have questions, concerns, a proposal for something you’d like to see in a future bill, look up your Representative or Senator or both and let your voice be heard. Legislators tend to be at their best when they have an engaged public holding them accountable. When there’s an unengaged public, they’re left with enough leeway to do something…ummm what’s the word…dumb.

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