Alford: Less time could drive Louisiana lawmakers to take action this regular session
What happens when you take a Louisiana Legislature that’s earning a reputation for dysfunction and tell its members they have just nine weeks to do a job that usually takes three months?
That’s the question Jeremy Alford asks in his latest column.
“The end result could be fantastic,” he surmises. “Goodwill—even if it’s forged by the pressures of politics—would be a welcome addition to the Capitol.”
It also would serve as a wave of momentum to transition lawmakers from the regular session into a second special session this year—the ninth session of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ term.
“That’s the plan for now,” writes Alford. “The governor is working with Senate President John Alario and House Speaker Taylor Barras to end this non-fiscal regular session ahead of schedule, possibly in mid-May, in order to convene the year’s second special session—‘at no additional expense to taxpayers.’”
The savings would arrive because Capitol players intend to end the second special session of 2018 on the same day the regular session would have adjourned on June 4, he notes, adding that it’s a “solid public relations move by the administration.”
The move also enables Edwards to call the House and Senate back into yet another special session sometime before the fiscal year ends June 30 if lawmakers happen to get sidetracked again, Alford says.
“But before we can get there, lawmakers will have to survive what promises to be a grueling pace in the coming weeks,” Alford writes. “You could tell things were going to be different on the first day of the regular session this past Monday. That opening salvo traditionally offers legislators a quiet afternoon following the governor’s opening remarks. But that wasn’t the case this week.”
Instead, the Senate adjourned, and three of its committees met to hear 34 bills. The House had 11 committee meetings slated over a three-day period.
“For now, it appears as if lawmakers will enjoy their customary Fridays off, which is helpful to catch up on not only business and district relations but also family time. That indulgence, however, probably won’t last,” says Alford. “Lawmakers will have to grind it out, stay ahead of schedule and avoid petty politics—three things lawmakers aren’t that great at doing.”