April 26, 2024 8:00am

The legislature and Gov. Jeff Landry are moving quickly on issues. Too quick or full steam ahead?

Lawmakers have been moving quickly. Let's talk about some of the most debated items.

Photo of Adam Daigle
Lafayette, LA Correspondent
article image

Everyone saw this coming, right? Well, maybe not this quickly.

We’re only months into the administration of Republican Gov. Jeff Landry with the Republicans holding a majority in the legislature, and lawmakers are moving quickly on lots of culture war issues you heard about in other states and along with a flurry of other bills.

Now in a regular session that will stretch out to June after two special legislative sessions, legislators are weighing bills that range from use of student pronouns in the classroom to a full-speed-ahead approach on a new state constitution. Landry’s first 90 days in office has included moves so swift and power-grabbing that he’s drawn comparisons to Huey Long.

And that brings us to this month’s Lafayette Power Poll and the question that will pull an opinion out of anyone – liberal, conservative or centrist – how would you grade Landry’s first months on the job?

More than half indicated either they are getting concerned or they are not happy at all. Almost one of every three voters chose the not happy response to sum up their feelings. Yet 22% indicated they were very supportive of Landry with another 15% who indicated they were somewhat supportive.

Referring to many of the bills coming out of the legislature now, over half of voters indicated they are either a solution in search of a problem or are actually harmful and discriminatory. Only 14% of voters said the bills are urgently needed.

“I am a registered Republican and I am majorly disappointed with Landry’s performance,” wrote voter Daphne Villemarette. “He is rushing through too many items that will ultimately hurt Louisiana.”

The hottest debate right now is the effort to dial back the state’s public record laws. One bill, Senate Bill 482, would make any records off limits to the public that reflect “advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated.”

The law would apply to all levels of government and hamstring what the public can know about what their governmental leaders are doing.

Landry, in an exchange with a WVUE reporter this week, said residents don’t want to know all that stuff and are only interested in the outcome. He likened it to a customer who doesn’t want to know how his food was prepared at a restaurant but merely wants it to taste good.

Power Poll voter Kyle Faber said that issue is bugging him the most.

The bill “clearly eliminates the transparency of the government,” he wrote. “What good is it to have the Ethics Commission when high-ranking elected officials may be able to hide behind this ill-passed legislative act which will become law.”

Another move of note was Landry and the Legislature moving to include electrocution and nitrogen gas a means of executing criminals. The state has executed only one person since 2002, but Landry signed a bill into law to expand executions as part of a tough-on-crime effort.

Asked for their take on the state’s new position on execution, 44% said they either supported it or didn’t like the new methods but believe there’s a place for executions. Yet 41% of voters indicated they were against capital punishment.

Voter Jessica Hauerwas predicted the tough-on-crime effort by state officials will not be a deterrent.

“Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the entire world,” she wrote. “Tougher consequences are not a deterrent to crime. Prevention programs are proven to be more effective and more fiscally advantageous. It would be better to approach at-risk individuals with ‘How can I help?’ more than ‘You better watch out.’"

On the effort to for a new constitution, it’s a toss-up whether voters statewide would back the effort. Landry hopes to have the constitution on the ballot this fall for the presidential election, but a lot has to happen between now and then.

Still, voters were asked if the question of whether or not to proceed with a constitution at this point were put to a statewide vote, 38% said it would pass while 37% said it would not and 25% were undecided.

Another topic worth discussion at the capital that would be of Acadiana interest was SB 379, co-sponsored by Sen. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia. If approved, it would walk back the doubling fines for speeding on the Interstate 10 Atchafalaya Basin bridge and installing traffic cameras, a measure that got approval two years ago.

Would people notice? Many would. Over a third of voters say they drive the 60 mph speed limit on that bridge while cars pass by often. Yet 32% said they don’t drive the speed limit, but another 23% said the speed limit is a non-issue but instead cameras and more police are needed on the bridge.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

More on This Poll

More Polls

More on This Poll