Budget Session Begins in Louisiana Legislature
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Louisiana faces a projected $1.6 billion shortfall in its upcoming fiscal year, and as if that isn't enough of a headache for lawmakers, their task will be complicated by two other factors: legislative elections later this year and the fallout over a recently ended redistricting session that has partisanship running especially high.
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal will address a joint session of the Legislature today in an environment teeming with "ill will," The Times-Picayune of New Orleans writes . "Hanging over the proceedings," the paper says, "will be the lingering effects of a bruising, three-week special session on redistricting that produced raw emotions and heightened the sense of partisanship and mistrust between the governor's office and the Legislature before it ended April 13."
Meanwhile, every seat in the Louisiana House and Senate will be up for election this year, meaning that many of the bills introduced during the session will be debated "with an eye toward the ballot box," as The Times-Picayune notes.
While the session ostensibly is devoted to passing a budget, lawmakers can introduce non-budget legislation, and there are expectations, according to the Times-Picayune, that the spending debate will be overshadowed at times "by battles over abortion rights, the state's official gemstone and whether federal candidates should be required to show a birth certificate before qualifying for the Louisiana ballot."
"It will be pure election-year politics," one state senator, Democrat J.P. Morrell, predicts.