‘LaPolitics’: Conservatives seek second shot at legislative issues

The upcoming regular session will be an opportunity for conservatives in the Legislature to take another swing at issues that didn’t quite work out last year.

“We’re starting to set the table now,” says Rep. Blake Miguez of New Iberia, chair of the Republican legislative delegation. “We’ve been working the last several months on an approach to critical race theory and we’re going to take another crack at the fairness in women’s sports and see if we can find some common ground with the governor. You’re also going to see voter integrity and gun rights come back up.”

Rep. Larry Frieman of Abita Springs, co-founder of the Conservative Caucus, adds, “I also expect vaccine mandate legislation. In fact, I’ll be bringing something on that. Plus, we’ve got to do something about how these insurance claims are being handled. That’s something conservatives want to address as soon as possible, and I think it’s an opportunity for us to work across the aisle.”

Naturally, the budget, which will be jam-packed with surplus dollars, will be a concern for conservatives as well. Republicans interviewed say they want a systematic approach to spending that recognizes the influx is temporary. “We need to find ways to use these dollars to help us approach the expiration of the temporary portion of the state sales tax,” Frieman says. 

As for internal politics, there’s an open chairmanship for the House Criminal Justice Committee, which was recently vacated by Democratic Rep. Ted James. Democratic lawmakers have argued that they helped Speaker Clay Schexnayder get elected, and in return they should be able to keep the gavel.

“This gives the speaker a great opportunity to further what he started after last year’s veto override session, when he was betrayed by Democrats,” Miguez says. “He replaced those chairs with conservative Republicans. I think a lot of us would like to see that happen again.”

Says Frieman, “Many have spoken up on behalf of (Criminal Justice Vice Chair) Tony Bacala. He would be phenomenal. The real question is whether the speaker wants to put this in Democratic hands or Republican hands.”

Many lawmakers believe the chairmanship will not be filled until after the redistricting session.

Miguez and Frieman said the Republican delegation and the Conservative Caucus plan to use the 20-day special session on redistricting as an opportunity to meet and plan for the regular session to follow. 

They said it: “After what we’ve been through in the past two years, I figured there are plenty of great causes to allow this to continue all year.” —Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre, announcing he will allow deputies to grow out their beards for charity all year after a successful “No Shave November,” in a press release. 

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com