So far, Gov. John Bel Edwards has divided the bills that have reached his desk into two categories: There are the bills he’s signed, and those he’s made a big deal out of signing.
The first category includes technical matters, run-of-the-mill legislation and bills that he doesn’t want to block but has no particular interest in embracing.
The second consists of the measures that warrant a public signing ceremony, those that he wants to highlight, either out of pride or because they were hard-fought by a group of constituents.
Edwards is surely disappointed that he didn’t get to publicly celebrate passage of top priorities such as raising the state minimum wage and making it easier for women to guarantee that they are paid equitably. But by holding signing ceremonies for bills that will return the New Orleans schools to local control, send 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system rather than adult court, allow for the use of medical marijuana and provide Louisianans driver’s licenses that will allow them to board a plane, he sent the message that he considers all these things significant accomplishments.
Edwards has a third option, of course. The governor has yet to exercise his veto power, but when and if he does, his approach should be revealing.
This is a governor who came out of the Legislature and respects it. Yet he also believes in the traditionally strong role that governors have played, as he signaled when he tried, and failed, to install an ally as House Speaker. Edwards would clearly like to be the nice guy who works with his fellow politicians, but he also understands when his authority is being challenged, particularly in the House.
Edwards’ predecessor, Bobby Jindal, who never served in the Legislature and who was considered a distant figure, used his veto power aggressively.
Edwards has a very different management style. It will be interesting to see whether he finds this particular tool just as useful.
‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.