I wrote the other day about a meaningful vote that never happened, presumably because members of the state Senate didn’t want to be identified as opponents. The bill on the table would have allowed Louisiana voters to decide whether to institute a modest minimum wage increase — an idea that is demonstrably popular with regular people but unpopular with the interest groups that hold so much sway in the Capitol.
Today’s topic is the opposite, a meaningless vote that did occur, on which a majority of House members were eager to go on record.
State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, got 73 votes for his bill to gradually roll back the .45 cent sales tax increase that lawmakers adopted just last year when they finally, after 10 regular and special sessions, steered the state away from the dreaded fiscal cliff. Just 21 House members opposed it.
That doesn’t mean anyone thinks the bill will ever become law. Now it heads to the Senate, which is expected to kill it. If that doesn’t happen, Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated he’d likely issue a veto, despite the late addition by his ally, state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, of some money for early childhood education.
"We remain opposed to the effort to roll back the bipartisan compromise we reached in (the) Legislature last year, after we stabilized our budget for the first time in many years," Edwards spokeswoman Christina Stephens said.
I’m guessing that at least some of those 73 representatives agree with the governor, and believe the state did what it had to do last year. The tax did pass with 74 votes, after all.
But they still get to claim a vote to cut taxes, knowing that the more responsibly minded Senate and the governor will not let that happen. And that means that they don’t have to own what would go with actually lowering taxes — a return to the bad old days of painful cuts to health care and higher education.
Just another day of democracy in action. Ain’t it grand?