Everything you need to know about the Legislature you learned in high school, but State Capitol High is where every boy believes he is president of the student council, and every girl believes she is head cheerleader.
It's a wonder that anything gets done at all.
With the end of what is the longest continuous sitting of the Legislature, there will be weeks of taking stock. Boosting the self-esteem of those unable to meet the payroll will require a good bit of polishing.
Danny Martiny, characteristically, said it best: “Quite frankly, we’re not exactly sure what we voted for,” the Kenner Republican told fellow senators at one point on the final day of the third legislative session since February.
That is one of the almost inevitable consequences of long sessions of a part-time Legislature, and a staff that has been worked incessantly since the beginning of the year, not to mention a new administration in the fourth-floor office where the real president of the student council works, Gov. John Bel Edwards. He now has his first real breathing space to take charge of the state bureaucracy and use the generous powers of the Louisiana governorship to promote his agenda. Medicaid expansion was only the start.
The GOP majority electing one of its own, Rep. Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, as speaker of the House started the new year off with a partisan cast, not favorable to the new Democratic administration, but Mr. Congeniality upstairs has tried to make the best of it. Whatever one's opinion of his views, Edwards has played a cool game, only occasionally pushing back in the hall against some of the troublemakers.
For all that everyone in school has been saying that we don't Washington-style polarization, that is increasingly the fact, but there is an exception in the state Senate. When you talk about an independent Legislature, the election of Barras is typically hailed, but President John Alario's vast experience made him unassailable, probably, for anybody who ran for governor last year.
At the new school, Alario, R-Westwego, is the vice principal in charge of discipline.
Smoking in the boys' room of the House is fine, but he lost his patience with the inability of the lower chamber to get its work done. Spare the rod and spoil the child might be the motto of the president in the coming year, when it comes to the House. That will be fun to see.
But the House is where the action was, in the sense that there is a new school, one where Republican legislators are constantly looking over their shoulders at fear of the right wing of the party. Some are sick of it and dropping out (Rep. Bryan Adams of Gretna, for example) and just like in the nation's Capitol the moderate members of the caucus are fearful of the meaner boys in the gym.
For now, everyone is tired after last week's final exams. When the grades come in, they are not likely to be pretty. But the air of the place has changed.
It's a new school with new rules.
Email Lanny Keller at email@example.com.