Gov. Edwards admits being duped by conference committee entailing Edmonson Amendment, but he appears to have learned how to exploit such committees to perfection to cram trial-lawyer-friendly “tort reform” right down everyone’s throat.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards as he expressed “willingness to have conversations” about the jury trial threshold with members of the Louisiana Legislature at a Baton Rouge Press Club meeting of March 2, 2020.

In the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session, a very crafty and sneaky maneuver was performed via a Conference Committee’s sly and secretive placement of an amendment into a bill to essentially grant then-LSP Col. Mike Edmonson a $55,000 pension boost.  The measure then passed both houses and was signed into law before a blogger exposed the whole charade.  Once exposed, the mainstream media jumped all over it.  On July 16, 2014, then-Treasurer John Kennedy explained exactly how dangerous these Conference Committees can be.  Let’s take just 46 seconds to listen to exactly what Kennedy had to say:

7/16/14:  Then-Louisiana Treasurer (now U. S. Senator) John Kennedy explains how dangerous Louisiana legislature conference committees can be.

Only five days later, on July 21, 2014, guess who placed the blame squarely upon himself for failing to read the bill Kennedy references above and catch the stealth “Edmonson Amendment?”  Well, that would be none other than then-candidate for Governor, John Bel Edwards.  Let’s take just 60 seconds to watch him place the blame squarely upon himself for that disaster, shall we:

7/21/14:  Then-candidate for Gov., John Bel Edwards, blames himself for his failure to read and know about the “Edmonson Amendment.”

Well, based upon the total implosion of tort reform in a conference committee yesterday, which ended up being very trial-attorney-friendly and now likely faces an almost certain signing by Gov. Edwards, it would appear the best lesson Edwards took away from the preceding video was an absolutely masterful performance of making virtually the entire body of Legislative Republicans appear far (and we do mean FAR) more “gullible” than Edwards ever dreamed of being.  From the preceding feature by The Hayride’s Scott McKay (which we strongly encourage everyone to read — especially for those wanting details of what makes the final approved bill so bad):

But in any event, the most important of those lessons is absolutely crucial and must be understood by every Republican in that legislature. Namely, don’t try to negotiate a compromise with John Bel Edwards. He’s a shark. You don’t negotiate with sharks, you shoot them with your spear-gun or else you stay out of the water altogether.

Meaning that you legislate when you have a veto-proof majority in both houses. Period. Edwards is a die-hard supporter of Louisiana’s status quo and will defend it to the death against any meaningful effort at reform. He has to be beaten, not compromised with. If you have something which can get 70 votes in the House and 26 in the Senate, you send it to his desk and dare him to veto it. If you don’t, go ahead and pass it and let him decide whether he can afford to go against the will of the people as expressed by their legislators. But the last thing you should do at this point is to dangle bait in front of him trying to lure him into making a deal; he’ll take your arm off.

Whatever direction this goes from here, let’s hope that lesson got learned. We’ve come too far on tort reform not to finish the job for the people of Louisiana.

McKay essentially published the softer, gentler version of Louisiana Republican legislative chastisement vis-a-vis conservative talk-show host Moon Griffon this morning.  We’re not going to repeat all Griffon had to say but instead simply strongly encourage everyone to listen to the podcast just linked!  He let loose on them but, being blunt, he sort of had every right to as he warned long ago that, “the best we’re going to get is H2O (watered down) tort reform out of this crew.”  Griffon did state that, just like Edwards said in the video above, he has heard from a number of Republican legislators who said, “We got the bill 17 minutes before the session ended and we had no idea what we were voting upon.”

To be blunt, we find that hard to believe.  The true conservative stalwarts of the Louisiana Legislature, Rep. Blake Miguez (who heads the Republican House Delegation) and Rep. Alan Seabaugh, both abstained from supporting the bill.  In our opinion, that is because they KNEW EXACTLY what the bill was comprised of, and they did not want their names associated with it.  Given Miguez’s position, we find it hard to believe that he kept all that knowledge to himself and didn’t tell his fellow Republican legislators about why he could not support the bill.  We believe that the far more feasible scenario is that this whole episode was a pre-orchestrated charade planned weeks ago by Sen. President Cortez and House Speaker Schexnayder, and Miguez and Seabaugh (much to their credit) simply refused to go along with the charade.

So what does this leave us at Sound Off Louisiana hoping for?  We are now in the seemingly-awkward position of sincerely crossing our fingers that Gov. Edwards will in fact veto the bill (which would have seemed unfathomable only yesterday when we made this in hindsight, ill-advised post) and then further hope that there will be no effort to even try to override the veto.  We doubt any such veto override would stand much of a chance anyway because it would  make no sense whatsoever for Miguez or Seabaugh to join in an override of something they declined to support in the first place.  We then call upon the Republican legislators to do the job they were elected to do and start from scratch in the Special Session and send to Gov. Edwards the TRUE tort reform legislation their constituents elected them to enact!

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Gov. Edwards faces what’s likely the biggest decision of his political career: Signing or vetoing Sen. Talbot’s tort reform bill, and the stakes for everyone are huge.

Louisiana State Sen. Rick Ward, R – Port Allen, the lone Republican to fail to support Sen. Kirk Talbot’s tort reform measure in the 2020 Louisiana Legislative Session.

Minutes after Gov. John Bel Edwards declared, “How sweet it is,” on the evening of Saturday, November 16, 2019, as he celebrated winning a second term in as Louisiana Governor, Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns, frustrated beyond words at a second term being served by an individual with such an incredibly hostile approach toward private businesses, published this Facebook post.  Since we know we have many subscribers who simply refuse to join the social media world, we’ll provide the Facebook post below:

During Gov. Edwards’ last appearance at the Baton Rouge Press Club (BRPC), Burns reminded Gov. Edwards of his stand on the $50,000 jury trial threshold, which is a major target of tort reform with Kirk Talbot’s SB-418 seeking to sharply reduce that threshold to $5,000.  Let’s take just a moment to view Edwards’ reiteration of his support of that threshold which he uttered on March 2, 2020:

Appearing before the BRPC on March 2, 2020, Gov. John Bel Edwards reiterates his stand on the $50,000 jury trial threshold.

As everyone not living in a cave knows by now, Sen. Kirk Talbot’s bill passed the Senate with a seemingly-veto-proof majority of 29-8.  Twenty-six votes would be required in the Senate to override a veto by Edwards.  Likewise, the measure passed the House by a seemingly-veto-proof majority of 72-28; furthermore, that was with Rep. Valarie Hodges being unable to cast her vote.  Had she been able to do so, that would have made it 73 votes in favor.  Seventy votes would be required in the House to override an Edwards veto.

The bill was returned to the Senate for concurrence with some House amendments, and those amendments were overwhelmingly rejected, prompting the bill to be presented to a Conference Committee comprised of the following members:

House:  Garofalo, Gregory Miller, and Magee.
Senate:  Talbot, Peacock, and Ward.

As this feature is being produced, the measure is awaiting consideration in the full Senate regarding the final bill form as emerged from the Conference Committee outlined above.

Needless to say, the stakes are huge entailing the political careers of everyone serving in the Legislature as well as Gov. Edwards regarding this bill.  There was a clear mandate sent across this state in last year’s Legislative races that citizens are fed up with the abusive tactics of “soft tissue trial lawyer exploitation,” and they’ve basically said, “Oppose this and you’re a dead duck in the next election.”

So far, the only Republican to oppose the tort reform measure is Sen. Rick Ward, R – Port Allen, and Ward is term-limited and ineligible to seek re-election in 2023 (though he can run for a House seat and attempt to move over to that Chamber).  Accordingly, as we indicated that we would, we are issuing a public tentative apology to Rep. Paula Davis, whom we predicted would fail to support an override of a veto by Gov. Edwards.  She has tentatively been removed from the preceding webpage (and has been replaced with Sen. Ward) which will highlight ALL Republicans who fail to support an Edwards veto override of Talbot’s bill should Edwards opt to veto the bill.  If Edwards does veto the bill, that webpage will be updated with any Republican legislator who fails to support a veto override.

Make no mistake:   The political stakes are huge for Edwards himself.  He can sign the bill, but doing so will bestow upon him the wrath of the trial lawyer cabal who bankrolled both of his election victories.  He can always say, “The handwriting was on the wall, and I couldn’t risk my entire second term being a lame duck, which is what would have happened to me had I not signed the bill and it became law anyway.”

Alternatively, he could veto the bill.  That action would surely please his trial lawyer cabal; however, if a veto-override turns out to be unsuccessful, the wrath of a majority of Republicans will likely unite together to ensure that he gets absolutely noting of his own initiatives of his second term in office passed through the Legislature.  For anyone old enough to remember the utter futility former Gov. Dave Treen endured from 1979 – 1983, to use some bad grammar, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” should a veto-override vote fail to win approval.

So, get ready folks, it’s about to get very interesting over at the State Capitol!

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Contractor Billy Broussard sounds off entailing AG Jeff Landry as he appeals ODC’s decision to drop complaint against attorney Robin Sylvester.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry

[Editor’s Note:  As stated on the video below, Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns has a “soft spot” in his heart for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry because of his determined resolve to block convicted felon Larry S. Bankston from obtaining state legal contracts.  Nevertheless, consistent with his philosophy upon forming Sound Off Louisiana, Burns felt an obligation to provide contractor Billy Broussard with a forum in which to vent his long-simmering frustration entailing Landry, and that forum was provided via video interview of Tuesday, May 26, 2020, and is presented below.]

Broussard vents his long-simmering frustration regarding Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry entailing Landry’s legal representation and follow-up thereafter entailing a suit Broussard filed against Gravity District 8 of Ward 1 of Calcasieu Parish.

Support Documents:

1.  ODC’s dismissal letter to Broussard dated April 30, 2020.

2.  Broussard’s hand-delivered appeal of ODC’s dismissal.

3.  Email from Landry’s Executive Assistant indicating Landry would provide an affidavit to Broussard (Landry later said it would be better to subpoena him and stated, according to Broussard, “I cannot lie under oath”).

4.  Landry’s email and letter to 14th JDC Judge David Ritchie indicating Landry would be unable to attend court pursuant to his subpoena served by Broussard (Sylvester also indicated she could not attend either).

5.  Broussard’s text message to Landry of November 13, 2018 as Broussard’s frustration with Landry began to reach a boiling point.

As we indicated in the video above, we are intentionally keeping the written portion of this post brief because the video speaks better than the written word; however, we do feel compelled to provide one segment below from Broussard’s appeal letter to the ODC:

Meanwhile, another attorney stated that I was likely “wasting my time” because he indicated that your office is literally flooded with complaints entailing attorneys who have abused drugs and/or absconded with client escrowed funds. If, in fact, your office is so inundated with complaints of drug-­addicted attorneys and/or those who abscond with client escrowed funds, then that itself speaks volumes about the profession you are charged with policing as well as the incredible degree of latitude that attorneys not engaging in such behavior have to abuse the clients they represent with total immunity from negative consequences from your office. If it is the requirement of this office that only evidence of drug use and/or absconding with client escrow funds is going to be deemed “clear and convincing,” then I feel you should make that disclaimer to the public! I see no point to wasting a bunch of time and energy when any conduct falling short of those actions is going to be cavalierly dismissed in the manner you have done with my complaint after first taking 416 days to arrive at that conclusion.

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