Editorial: Local lawmakers avoiding conversation they must have

Local lawmakers who recently opposed holding a special session of the Legislature are simply putting off a conversation that

they someday must have.

It’s a conversation they must have if they intend to serve the voters.

It’s a conversation they must have if they value their branch of government.

It’s a conversation they must have if they want, as individual men and women, to look at themselves in the mirror.

Right now, the Legislature embarrasses

itself as an institution and the individual members within it. With few

exceptions,

our legislators have surrendered their authority as elected

officials to the House and Senate leadership imposed on them by

the governor. If they ever had clout in Baton Rouge, most of them

gave it up cheerfully and without a struggle.

State Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, an

independent from Thibodaux, proposed some six weeks ago that lawmakers

call themselves

into session to discuss budget cuts imposed on the state by Gov.

Bobby Jindal. The governor’s actions caused substantial cuts

at a local public hospital and caused the closure of a prison in

DeQuincy.

Enough House members signed on to advance the effort to hold a special session to start in late November. The effort failed

to draw sufficient support in the Senate.

In Southwest Louisiana, our senators declined to get involved, citing “unknowns” about the session and saying success was

uncertain.

“If there is a plan, have they shown it to legislators and do they have the votes?” asked Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings.

“It’s just not the smart thing to do,” said Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, citing the costs.

But if Richard’s plan was faulty, it might have improved with wise contributions from lawmakers meeting in special session.

If a special session is not the smart thing to do, what is?

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.