ACUF ranks area lawmakers above 55 percent

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Half of the issues affecting the American Conservative Foundation are getting support from Terrebonne and Lafourche state lawmakers, according to the political action committee’s report card of the 2017 La. Legislative Session.

The ACUF reviewed each piece of legislation lawmakers decided in both the Senate and the House, in order to produce average scores for each sitting member.

ACUF Chairman Matt Schlapp said during the 2017 session, state lawmakers voted to protect the lives of the unborn, preserve free speech on campus, and reform the criminal justice system.

“We urge them to continue to enact more conservative reforms, attempt to eliminate wasteful spending, and reduce barriers to job creation,” Schlapp said.

Louisiana legislators took pen to paper on various issues during the 2017 legislative session.

In one or both chambers, they voted to: require a minor to obtain consent from a parent or guardian before seeking an abortion; protect political speech on college and university campuses and establish disciplinary hearings for those who attempt to impede upon free speech; to reform the criminal justice system to focus on serious violent offenders rather than low level offenders, while reducing wasteful spending; to prevent state agencies and local governments from adopting policies that hinder cooperation with federal immigration authorities; and they voted against allowing the legislature to raid the “rainy day” fund in order to maintain spending levels, rather than reduce spending.

State Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, (I) who represents Lafourche Parish, and Rep. Beryl Amedee, (R), who represents both Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, scored a 79 and 71 on the report card, the highest among area lawmakers in the House.

Hearing the news, Amedee said she was puzzled her score wasn’t higher, because of the value she places on the organization’s mission, which she said is crucial. She pointed to reforming the criminal justice system, for example.

“Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Unfortunately, our sentencing laws aren’t as sensible as other states,” she said.

For instance, Amedee believes a first time marijuana charge should carry a sentence of a heavy fine, or a ticket, with entry into some sort of drug rehab, provided that the individual charged has a clean criminal record.

Regarding sanctuary cities, Amedee finds it, “offensive that we would disobey federal law to protect those who are here in our country, illegally.”

Regarding the state’s “rainy day” fund, Amedee feels it is very unwise to tap into a budget that is set aside for emergencies.

“We should exhaust every means possible before we tap into a fund that is there for a reason, emergencies,” she said.

State Rep. Tanner MaGee, (R), who represents the 53rd district of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, said he votes his conscience when he is in the House Chamber.

“I just vote my conscience and let the scores fall where they may. It’s not something I think about,” he said.

MaGee scored a 67 percent on voting for the ACUF’s issues, up from a 59 percent in 2016.

Rep. Jerome Zeringue, who represents the 52nd district of Terrebonne and Lafourche, said his first concern when voting, “is to focus on the people of my district. They are the reason I am there, in the chamber.”

“Now the people who form political action committees like this one, well God Bless them for advocating to bring attention to their issues. However, I represent what’s in the best interest of the people in Lafourche and Terrebonne,” he said.

Zeringue scored a 67 percent on his voting record with the ACUF in 2017, up from 59 percent in 2016.

State Rep. Jerry Gisclair, D, who represents mid to lower Lafourche Parish, scored a 67 percent voting record in 2017, up from 43 percent in 2016.

State Sen. Bret Allain, R, who represents Terrebonne and Lafourche, scored a 77 percent on voting with the ACUF in 2017, up from 43 percent in 2016.

Allain tried to answer our questions but unfortunately he was too overwhelmed with this duties as a member of the state’s finance committee, his assistant Laura Meadows said.

State Sen. Norby Chabert, R, who represents also represents Terrebonne and a part of Lafourche, scored a 62 on voting with the ACUF in 2017, up from 56 percent in 2016.

Bret Allain