More good than bad in Baton Rouge

A trusted lawmaker warned us before the 2019 Legislative Session to not get our hopes up too high.

“It’s an election year,” the local leader said. “Don’t expect much to happen.”

We will not identify the lawmaker because the comments were given to us off the record.

But now, many weeks later and with the session complete, we’re happy to report that those were, in fact, in true.

Lawmakers did get quite a bit done this past session and a lot of the decisions they made will positively impact our area for years to come.

We, whole-heartedly, support the statewide pay raise that has been issued to our teachers. We’ve dedicated entire editorials to this topic, but we feel our state’s teachers are an under-appreciated segment of society — a group who works tirelessly to mold tomorrow’s leaders. An investment into education is an investment into everyone’s futures. That is money well-spent and money that will be paid back in the future in the form of successful citizens in society.

Likewise, we also support lawmakers dedicating BP funds to fix road infrastructure in our state — the first such investment in 30 years in Louisiana.

Of course, we’re proud and happy that a large portion of those funds will go toward the next phase of La. Highway 1’s elevation project. Those monies will help secure the economic future of the Houma-Thibodaux area by protecting the assets of Port Fourchon and allowing us to return to work when storm events occur and waters encroach our coast.

That legislation will save literally billions of dollars over the next 40-50 years once the rest of the funding is secured and the work is completed.

We also think it’s wise that lawmakers supported the local seafood industry and passed a bill requiring restaurants to list publicly the country of origin of the items on their menu — assuming that they’re foreign products not caught in the United States.

This will help local harvesters, but also the people in the state of Louisiana who we feel have a right to know that they’re consuming and putting in their bodies.

Grocery stores already were forced to comply to the same rules and regulations, so why shouldn’t restaurants do the same? We feel this is a common-sense approach to government and is a bill that will prove to be of great benefit.

Of course, there were some shortcomings, as well.

We cannot understand why sports betting legislative and fantasy sports legislations were not able to be created and passed — even after citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of such legislation last fall. That is a bummer, and quite frankly, a letdown. Mississippi is getting that money right now. Why can’t Louisiana? We’re falling behind, which is a shame, considering we already have the casino infrastructure in place to execute legislation.

This is literally free money that our state is choosing to turn down because sharks at the table cannot decide how to divvy up the slices of the pie. That’s unacceptable. We hope those discussions continue in 2020 and a resolution is finally reached. The people let their voices be heard this past fall. Now, it’s time to listen to those voices and take action.

We also think it’s a shame that state lawmakers continue to tiptoe and tread lightly around land ownership rights as they pertain to the water and public access.

For a second-straight year, lawmakers discussed the issue, then punted the can about 5 miles down the road. We understand that this is a complex issue. But we also understand that Louisiana is Sportsman’s Paradise — a paradise that may soon vanish if more people are not given access to our state’s waters.

But all things considered, we salute the state and its lawmakers on a job well done. It’s an election year, but by and large, state lawmakers showed that their priorities were on the citizens of the state, as opposed to future political gain.

We, admittedly, set the bar low, and you guys cleared it pretty easily, passing legislation that will go a long way in helping our state move forward into the future.

We’re all better for it – both now and into the future. •