By Jeremy Alford and Mitch Rabalais
With the new fiscal year, departments and agencies are preparing to enforce hundreds of news laws that were approved during the recent regular session.
On Thursday, Aug. 1, a large portion of the policymaking yield from the session will become law, courtesy of 254 bills that were endorsed by the House, Senate and governor.
All around the state, roadways will be renamed, like a portion of LA 34 in Jackson Parish that will become the “Second Lieutenant Harvel Moore Memorial Highway.”
New regulations and guidelines will address hazing, human trafficking, real estate transactions, care in animal shelters and school safety reporting requirements, to name just a few issues.
The laws going into effect Aug. 1 represent roughly 60 percent of the 423 bills passed throughout the process last spring; 282 originated in the House and 141 in the Senate. More than 100 acts from the regular session have already taken hold, while the remainder have varying effective dates that stretch into 2020 or, in certain instances, depend on the passage of constitutional amendments.
Many of the changes will go unnoticed even though they are far-reaching and diverse. Boards and commissions both big and small, such as the Iberville Parks and Recreation District and the South Louisiana Port Commission, will see changes to their memberships or oversight due to the bills passed during the 2019 regular session.
Funds and fees to bankroll government operations will be created as well, alongside a slew of new prestige license plates that drivers will be able to pay extra for; these will include the “War of 1812” and “Spanish Heritage” plates.
The definition of an abortion will be revised, updated guidelines for post-conviction DNA testing will be triggered and it will become a crime to threaten a law enforcement officer via social media.
A family member of a slain law enforcement officer will finally be allowed to purchase their loved one’s duty firearm. Harrah’s casino in New Orleans will enter into its new operating contract. Enhanced labeling for milk products will be launched. And all of the costs related to prospective bond, debt and tax elections will have to be disclosed and published.
Learn more by visiting Legis.La.Gov.
Governor Wraps Work On Session Bills
With this year’s regular session four weeks behind him, Gov. John Bel Edwards endorsed his final batch of bills and essentially closed the legislative policy book for his inaugural term in office.
Like many members of the state Legislature, Edwards is up for re-election this fall, and the recent session was his final shot to deliver on campaign promises and influence legislation.
The governor signed three bills into law, including Act 20 and Act 30, which will guide the state’s spending on major infrastructure projects.
The governor signed Act 443, which dedicated the economic proceeds from the Deepwater Horizon litigation to certain transportation projects, among other things.
Bringing his legislative work to a touching end, Edwards was scheduled to join former Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Tuesday for the unveiling of the Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Highway. That designation is due to a bill that was adopted by the Legislature during the recent session and subsequently signed by Edwards.
Incumbent Unfurls Media Campaign
The re-election campaign of Gov. John Bel Edwards spent more than $260,000 during the first quarter on its media operations. Activities ranged from shooting online ads to placing sizable advertising buys on radio statewide, according to the latest finance report on file with the state Ethics Administration.
Now the Associated Press is reporting that Edwards has become the first official candidate to go up on television with a “seven-figure ad buy,” meaning the re-election campaign is positioned to at least quadruple its media budget during the second quarter.
The new ad reportedly contrasts Edwards and former Gov. Bobby Jindal. It’s likely to be the first of many spots supporting the Democratic incumbent.
So far, based on the finance reports available for review, Edwards’ campaign has spent $200,000 on traditional media operations and $60,000 on digital media during the first quarter. Of that tally, $135,000 went into radio messages during March alone.
Among the media firms the campaign is working with are Bright Moments of New Orleans, which was paid $4,400 last quarter; Arsement Media Group of Lafayette, $55,000; and Anne Lewis Strategies of Washington, D.C., $38,000.
Edwards has two declared GOP opponents: Congressman Ralph Abraham of Alto, who had $1 million in the bank at the close of the first quarter, and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, who was able to match Edwards’ $10 million in cash on hand, largely through personal loans.
Political History: The Hippo-Raising Congressman
In 1910, Congressman Robert Broussard, who referred to himself as “Cousin Bob” because he was supposedly related to at least 25 percent of Iberia Parish, introduced H.R. 23261.
At the time, there was a meat shortage in America, and back home in Louisiana, there was likewise a growing problem with invasive hyacinth clogging waterways.
Broussard’s legislation was straightforward. He wanted the feds to pony up $250,000 for hippopotamuses to be imported from Africa so they could be raised in the marshy bayous of Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast — and harvested for their meat.
Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times both endorsed the idea, according to American Hippopotamus, an Atavist magazine podcast led by Jon Mooallem.
Based on what you’ve had for meals since birth, you probably already know that this concept never gained favor in Congress, or with the American people.
But the story of hippo farming down the bayou takes a strange turn when you consider the experts that Broussard cobbled together for his unique campaign — we’re taking about two men who were at one time spies actively trying to murder each other.
Mooallem explains further in a 2013 interview with Wired.
“Well, Broussard has this Congressional hearing and he needs expert witnesses. The first is this geeky apple researcher. The other two are Frederick Russell Burnham and Fritz Duquesne.
“Frederick Russell Burnham is this staggeringly impressive and totally forgotten figure from history. The Boy Scouts were founded in his image to create boys that were as capable and honorable as him. He was the inspiration for Indiana Jones. He was a freelance adventurer who’d up and gone to Africa to fight for the British colonialists, because like a lot of people at the time he thought this was a noble kind of project to bring ‘civilization’ to Africa. He was once described as the ‘most complete human being who ever lived.’
“Fritz Duquesne was a Boer, which are the descendants of Dutch settlers in Africa. He was a really slippery fellow. He moved through life in this cloud of aliases. He was a virtuosic and ambitious con man. He fought against the British in the second Boer war. Like Burnham, he was a kind of free-ranging spy. Burnham once called him the ‘human epitome of sin and deception.’ During the Boer war the two men were assigned to kill each other.”
They Said It
“I’ll have a talk with myself.”
—State Senate President John Alario, when asked if he would consider running for the House again, in The Advocate
“My life has been so charmed.”
—Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, in the USA Today Network of Louisiana Newspapers
“I know many of the candidates running, but I felt like I was listening to folks who were Castro without the beard, or Cuba without the sun.”
— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, on the recent Democratic presidential debate, on Fox News
“The campaigns are just, well dull.”
— Former Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown, on the current gubernatorial race in Louisiana, via his syndicated column
For more Louisiana political news, visit LaPolitics.com or follow Alford and Rabalais on Twitter via @LaPoliticsNow.