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Parting the Curtain of Discontent

Sue LIncoln
House in session, June 4, 2017

Nearly all of us are familiar with the image from “The Wizard of Oz” that accompanies the line, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Yet for the past several days, House Republicans have been publicly pulling the curtain back on the dysfunctional aspects of this session.

The unveiling started with Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter taking on his own party, the LA GOP, over the failure of the gasoline tax.

The language that was released by the party was not only castigating legislators of its own party who supported the bill, but in opposition – this is what’s amazing – in opposition to raising the gas tax ever!” Carter declared on the House floor, as he withdrew the tax measure from consideration.

House Republicans Barry Ivey and Julie Stokes spoke out about the failure of House leadership on tax reform, as they each asked Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee members to approve voluntary deferral of the income tax bills they'd fought so hard to through the House.

Representative Stokes and myself have been pushing this large rock up a hill by ourselves, and there’s just no wind at our back. There hasn’t been any this entire session,” Ivey told the senators.

It’s hard to watch Louisiana fall on its face, which is what I do believe you are seeing at the moment,” Stokes remarked.

And then there was the House debate over Ruston Republican Rob Shadoin’s bill to undedicate constitutionally protected funds. After numerous representatives spoke out protesting the unlocking of this fund or that one,Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger ( a Democrat) assisteded Shadoin in making the point.

I can’t go anywhere without people telling me all we have to do is undedicate everything and all will be right in the world,” Leger began.

I’ve heard the same arguments you’ve heard,” Shadoin concurred.

I’m sure there are some things in here that you believe are priorities and should be protected in every way possible,” Leger said.

Shadoin agreed, “Absolutely, I do.”

However, it’s almost like you have a hypothesis you’re testing, right?”

Exactly,” Shadoin responded with a nod and a grin.

Julie Stokes said she couldn’t support the bill, but, “I like what you’re doing here, because I think that you’re revealing the rhetoric that we are all participating in.”

Shadoin's proposed constitutional amendment, which would have freed up more than $49-million, failed to pass.