Another special session seems imminent

On June 6, the current legislative session will end.

With only a month left, bills are moving at a snail’s pace. Only six measures have made it through the House and Senate and are awaiting the governor’s John Hancock. The six include technical changes to the state’s insurance laws and an agreement to rename a section of La. Highway 14 in honor of slain Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent.

Despite the spring special session, Louisiana lawmakers have a lot of business left to conduct. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ budget is $600 million short, and lawmakers are charged with making some difficult cuts.

Toward that end, the House rolled out its proposed cuts, which, unsurprisingly, Barry Erwin, president of Council for a Better Louisiana, told Bayou Industrial Group members Monday is “unrealistic.”

On the bright side, Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center stands to receive more money than Edwards had allowed. But Erwin’s concern makes sense. “Everybody gets some, but nobody would get enough to really manage through this,” Erwin said of the health care providers facing cuts.

Furthermore, the House cuts are vague. “They just manufactured some cuts and said go make them,” he said.

Health care and education are the most vulnerable aspects of Louisiana’s budget. This year, health care and TOPS are the biggest targets.

Erwin favors two bills currently moving through the Legislature. The first would decouple TOPS from the state university tuition increases to curb ballooning costs moving forward. The second would cut TOPS across all award levels instead of completely cutting off the students on the lower end of the program. Both would reign in TOPS spending, but continue to afford financial support to qualifying students who wish to attend college.

It will be a tough pill to swallow for some. But with a balanced budget at stake, Louisiana must adjust to the bitter taste.

The question now is whether or not lawmakers can get the job done in the short amount of time left or is another special session in our immediate future?

Facebook flexed its powerful muscles on Sunday night in south Lafourche Parish.

The people using the social media tool were even more powerful.

The people of southern Lafourche united as one late on Mother’s Day when Lindsay Duet posted a passionate plea on the social media site pleading for the community’s help in finding her husband, son and nephew – all of whom did not return after a day on the water.

The post went viral.

Photos of the adult and two children were blasted all over Facebook, along with prayer requests, words of wisdom and other encouragements.

The messages were overwhelming – so much so that Times reporters John DeSantis and Casey Gisclair noticed them on their own timelines, prompting the two to whip up the late-breaking web story.

It, too, went viral.

At press-time on Monday night, it was viewed more than 40,000 times.

Those with free time and a vessel got on the water – even after midnight – to try and find the group.

They searched tirelessly, using valuable fuel and machinery for the cause.

Some were related to the man and two boys, but many were not. Many had not ever met, nor known the family involved, but just decided to take action to help a fellow Cajun when it became known that assistance was needed.

That camaraderie and loyalty to one’s neighbor is why the Houma-Thibodaux community is one of the best places in the world.

That unselfishness and generosity toward one another is a beautiful thing – a trait that we often take for granted, but now is appreciated again.

In the end, it was a citizen-mariner who found the guys and the story got its own happy ending.

It was an entire community’s worth of support and prayers that laid the foundation that inspired the search and rescue mission. •