With a shorter session designed to be focused on financial concerns, facing a pile of complex budget and taxation bills, why in the world would the Louisiana Legislature embark on a social-issues crusade?
Politics, we suspect.
Gov. John Bel Edwards wisely told lawmakers that the fiscal session ought not be distracted by national crusaders on the far right who want to make an issue of what does not appear to be a problem in Louisiana, transgender athletes in girls’ sports.
One proposal pending in the state House would ban transgender athletes from taking part in girls' or women's sports in public schools. It is sponsored by state Rep. Beryl Amedee, R-Houma.
She acknowledged the issue has not caused a problem in Louisiana but called the measure proactive.
We call it a solution in search of a problem. And we’d add that it is a symptom of dysfunction not in high school athletics, but rather in the Republican Party.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican, gave a fiery speech before the party’s state committee last weekend, denouncing some of the party’s officeholders for pushing extremism instead of election-winning conservative solutions.
The Democrat Edwards and the Republican Nungesser are far apart on some issues but have collaborated when needed for the good of the state.
That’s what government, rather than politics, is all about.
And pragmatic concerns of government ought to matter most to legislators, particularly in today’s fiscal sessions.
The National Basketball Association moved its 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, to New Orleans, because North Carolina had passed a law that banned transgender people from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities. That muddled situation was eventually settled, after a fashion, but in that case, Louisiana's relative political restraint paid off for us economically.
While Amedee might not consider her bill, or others seeking to impose new state restrictions on medical treatment of transgender persons, as radical or discriminatory, national groups not only might but probably will.
The NCAA Board of Governors last week issued a statement that said it will only host championship events in states that are "safe, healthy and free of discrimination." We think that’s an explicit warning that enactment of any such law here could jeopardize New Orleans hosting the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2022.
Louisiana and in particular the greater New Orleans region is still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic on tourism. As that vital industry recovers, bringing back jobs and tax revenues, it is folly to put ahead of our state's economic interests a social-issues crusade of a splinter off the GOP mainstream.