Wednesday, June 22, 2011
On June 16 the Louisiana House of Representatives voted unsuccessfully to override Gov. Bobby Jindal’s mindlessly ideological veto of a bill renewing 4 cents of the state’s tax on a pack of cigarettes. The tax was devoted to underwriting health care and, supporters pointed out, renewing it could have helped leverage an additional $38 million in federal funds for health care in one of the most unhealthy states in the nation. That’s $50 million up in smoke.
The House needed 70 votes to override the veto — the exact number of reps who voted for the renewal in May. But, fearing reprisals from the governor, putting party over principle (in fairness, two Democrats also defected) or merely divorced from their senses, 11 reps changed their votes and sided with Jindal.
Speaker Pro Tem Joel Robideaux’s 180 we understand: He’ll need Jindal’s support in next year’s bid to become House speaker. But we don’t condone it. With Rep. Nancy Landry giving Lafayette a pusillanimous pair, the Hub City accounted for nearly 20 percent of the override’s failure.
Robideaux and Landry were joined in betraying their better angels by Reps. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego, Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, Charles Chaney, R-Rayville, Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, Kay Katz, R-Monroe, Thomas McVea, R-Jackson and Thomas Wilmott, R-Kenner.
Contrast how two Republicans accounted for their override vote: Landry acknowledged that her stepmother died of lung cancer and she didn’t believe the renewal was a new tax. Yet, she sided with Jindal because, she told Gannett, she’s “going to be, hopefully, working with the governor another four years” and she “didn’t think it was worth a challenge to him.” Ruston’s Hollis Downs stuck to his principles, voting for both the renewal and the override. Downs cited his father’s death from emphysema: “I would dishonor his life if I didn’t do everything I can to reduce smoking.”
Let’s not forget that Jindal, when he was secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, defended such consumption taxes as a means of reducing smoking and covering state health care costs for smokers — you know, the mark of a “just society.”
Kudos to Lafayette Parish Reps. Bobby Badon and Rickey Hardy, who voted to renew and override. The latter took advantage of the House’s epic failure by pointing out, a pack of smokes in one hand and a textbook in the other, that while Louisiana is lowering the cost of smoking — arguably an enticement for young people — we’re raising the cost of higher education.
We hope these 11 state reps can sleep at night.
No, wait, we don’t.
[Editor’s Note: Democratic state Rep. Harold Ritchie of Bogalusa made an 11th hour maneuver Monday, tacking his cigarette tax onto SB53, a proposed constitutional amendment to dedicate more tobacco settlement dollars to TOPS. Given the opportunity to redeem themselves, Robideaux and Landry instead voted against the cigarette tax amendment, which passed 59-40, but later voted for the TOPS bill. If the Senate concurs with the House, the constitutional amendment will go to a vote of the people. Follow The Independent online for updates on this story.]
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, March 12, 2014:
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
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Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
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While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
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Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.