No governor-lieutenant governor ticket for Louisiana

Roundup of legislative action

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana’s governor and lieutenant governor won’t be elected jointly, after the House rejected the idea.
Rep. Walt Leger, a New Orleans Democrat, proposed the candidates for Louisiana’s top two offices to be chosen on a ticket, like the president and vice president are.
Leger says 26 other states choose the leaders of the offices together. He says a joint ticket could guard against political conflict and help the governor use the state’s number two official as “a true lieutenant.”
Opponents questioned if the change would expand the governor’s power and move Louisiana’s politics to more closely mimic the partisanship of Washington.
Only 36 lawmakers supported the idea Wednesday, while 64 opposed it. The constitutional amendment required two-thirds support, or 70 votes, to reach the Senate.
— A proposal to exempt diapers and tampons from Louisiana’s state sales tax stalled Wednesday in the Senate, only to be revived later in a different form and successfully sent to the House for debate.
Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, proposed a constitutional change to remove the 4.45 percent state sales tax from diapers and feminine hygiene products starting in 2021.
Senators refused to include that exemption in the state constitution. The Senate voted 21-12 for the measure, but it needed 26 votes to pass because constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote.
But later in the day, after stymieing the constitutional change, senators agreed to include the tax break in statute . That law change passed in a 29-5 vote , moving to the House for consideration.
Morrell said the items are essential to women and children, in line with prescription drugs, which are exempt from sales tax.
“They are not an option. You have to have them. They are not a luxury,” Morrell said. “I think this is a moral issue.”
He described poor parents changing their children’s diapers in stores by stealing them because they can’t afford the expense.
Opponents cited the tax break’s cost, estimated at nearly $10 million a year.
Sen. Barrow Peacock, a Shreveport Republican, said that would take away dollars from education and health care programs. Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a Slidell Republican, voted against the measure, saying the exemption would offer only small relief to households.
“I just don’t think that this is a good way to go,” Hewitt said.
Morrell said he objected to colleagues who talk about “protecting babies” during abortion debates, but vote against helping parents diaper their children.
“The level of hypocrisy is staggering,” he said, shouting.
Senate Bills 4 and 5: www.legis.la.gov
— Louisiana won’t become the latest state to ratify the long-stalled Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
State senators Wednesday rejected legislation by New Orleans Democratic Sen. J.P. Morrell to enact a constitutional provision outlawing discrimination based on gender.
Congress in 1972 approved the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.
Morrell sought to make Louisiana the 38th state to back the amendment, reaching the threshold for ratification. He says the language would enshrine equality in the constitution.
Opponents say the deadline for approval was 1982.
Sen. Beth Mizell, a Franklinton Republican, objected to the amendment, saying it was the equivalent of adding abortion rights protections into the U.S. Constitution. Morrell disagreed with that assessment.
Only nine senators voted for the proposal. Twenty-six voted against it.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 2: www.legis.la.gov

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