‘LaPolitics’: The session is over but not the decisions

The wheeling and dealing and cheerleading and screaming have ended, thanks to a final adjournment from both chambers in time for the regular session’s 6 p.m. deadline last night. But don’t celebrate too hard—no one is allowed to turn the page on the session quite yet. Still pending are further vetoes from Gov. John Bel Edwards, should he choose to execute that authority again. Additionally, a big ballot push is on deck for this fall for a tax package that was championed by the legislative leadership. During his post-session news conference last night, Edwards said he needed to carefully review the multipart tax plan. Still, it sounded like the governor was leaning toward signing off on the package that was championed by Ways and Means Chair Stuart Bishop and Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Chair Bret Allain. The governor did say he had some concerns about another important bill passed by Sen. Rick Ward and Speaker pro tem Tanner Magee that would redirect money from the general fund to roads and bridges. Lawmakers rallied around the last-minute idea and made it a reality. “I’m not yet ready to tell you whether this particular bill is one we’re going to sign,” Edwards told reporters last night. Aside from waiting on the governor, lawmakers also have to turn their attention to passing a set of constitutional amendments in October that will represent the tax package they passed during the regular session. Making the proposals digestible in a way that voters can understand income taxes, sales taxes and more may be a challenge. Both Bishop and Allain say they expect an organized effort this summer and fall to convince voters that the tax package is right for them. The groups that supported the various bills throughout the process will likely head up that campaign, they say. Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, says he will begin reaching out to his board members soon to see exactly what kind of resources they want to put into the effort. “We’re going to be involved,” Waguespack says. 

—Gov. John Bel Edwards this week signed into law HB397 by Rep. Malinda White, which would, among other things, streamline how the Department of Health and its partners such as the Louisiana chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association facilitate the distribution of educational materials to doctors and patients. On the heels of Edwards’ decision, U.S. regulators have approved Biogen’s aducanumab drug as one of the first treatments to attack a root cause of Alzheimer’s. MaryBeth Wilkerson, the public policy manager for the Louisiana chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, says, “Early detection and an accurate diagnosis has always been important. Approval of this new therapy makes early detection and diagnosis even more critical to ensure individuals receive the most benefit at the earliest point possible. HB397 by Representative White will play a pivotal role in this process for the people of Louisiana.”

They said it: “All right y’all. I’m ready to TikTok.” —Gov. John Bel Edwards, in his first TikTok video, promoting vaccines. 

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.