Rep. Alan Seabaugh bails out Sen. Claitor, other senators’ amnesia on constitutionality of HB-12 and is rewarded by being made a scapegoat and demonized by some of his colleagues, Gov. Edwards, and the media for “collapse” of special session.

Rep. Alan Seabaugh, as he openly questions the germaneness of Senate amendments to HB-12 by Rep. Walt Leger.

In 2014, though he first denied having done so, State Sen. Neil Riser had to ultimately admit to being the author of the so-called “Edmonson Amendment.”  That amendment, which was a stealth attempt to boost former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson’s pension by approximately $55,000/year, was ultimately challenged as unconstitutional by Riser’s colleague, Sen. Dan Claitor.  Prior to Claitor’s suit, the Louisiana State Police Retirement Board (LSPRB) hired a high-profile law firm in Florida to delve into whether the law passed by the Legislature granting Edmonson that pension boost was constitutional.  That firm issued a report which stated that the law was unconstitutional on multiple fronts, two of which were germaneness and multiple objects, thus providing pretty solid grounds beforehand for Claitor’s litigation.  In 19th JDC, Judge Janice Clark wasted little time issuing a declaratory judgment stating that the law was unconstitutional.

 

Sound Off Louisiana subscribers will easily recall our recent feature entailing members of the Louisiana House of Representatives voting 76-28 in favor of HB-27 by Lance Harris, which would increase Louisiana’s sales tax rate by 1/3 cent.  As was easily predictable, the Senate committee hearing Rep. Harris’ bill jacked it up to 1/2 cent, eliminated more exclusions, and eliminated the five-year sunset.  That wasn’t enough for Senate Committee Chairman J. P. Morrell and Democratic Party Chairperson Karen Carter Peterson, however.  Fearing that Harris may exercise dominant authority and walk away from his own bill as a result of their amendments (which Harris had readily told Morrell and Peterson would have “no chance” of passing the full House), they went a step further.  They also amended HB-12 by Rep. Walt Leger to effectively become a mirror image of Harris’ bill.  In so doing, if Harris played hardball, their logic was they could depend upon the more receptive fellow Democrat, Walt Leger, to obtain their objective of approximately $642 million in increased taxes (vs. the approximate $380 million Harris’ bill in its original format forecast).

 

In the following seven-minute video, highlights of Peterson’s hostile treatment of Harris are captured entailing the amendments, as are the “hijacking” of Leger’s bill to mirror Harris’ bill, Leger presenting his amended bill, Rep. Seabaugh questioning the constitutionality of the bill (based on the germaneness of the amendments), Speaker Barras’ response, and the ensuing episode of embarrassing and unprofessional conduct of State Rep. (and candidate for Secretary of State) Julie Stokes:


Final hostile and cantankerous days of 2018 second Special Session entailing HBs 27 and 12, respectively.

Speaker Barras’ wording in responding to Rep. Seabaugh is not just some “off the cuff” commentary!  We can all rest assured that his commentary is a verbatim quote of House Clerk Alfred “Butch” Speer, who is a very well-respected and knowledgeable attorney.  Hence, had the House actually taken a second vote on HB-12 (the vote near the end of the video above was a vote to reconsider, which passed, but Seabaugh succeeded in his efforts to extend the clock to midnight and thus make any second vote on the measure clearly an illegal vote and thus no vote transpired) and it somehow miraculously gotten 70 votes (it would not have), then any taxpayer could have filed a lawsuit similar to Claitor’s above entailing the constitutionality of the law!  Trust us, someone would have even if it would have to have been Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns.

 

Hence, Alan Seabaugh served as a savior of inevitable litigation which almost certainly would have been a lost case by the State of Louisiana.  The state’s entire budget and operations would have been thrown into utter chaos as money from the sales tax would have to have been escrowed and ultimately refunded to consumers based on proofs of payments (people would have been urged to save all receipts).

 

Seabaugh’s reward?  Well, first there was the “it’s on you, buddy” (entailing another special session) statements and accompanying hand gestures by Rep. (and candidate for Secretary of State) Julie Stokes depicted in the video above as if it were a basketball game and she was taunting Seabaugh on committing a personal foul.  That highly unprofessional conduct was immediately followed by commentary by Rep. Anders about his “disappointment” as depicted in the above video.  Next came an outrageous, insulting, and inexcusable commentary by the aforementioned Sen. Peterson in which she even went so far as to openly question Rep. Seabaugh’s spirituality.  Then for the cherry on the ice cream, we have The Advocate’s piece on the Republican Caucus’ statement on a next special session complete with a FREAKING TWEET FROM GOVERNOR EDWARDS in the center of the article with a depiction of Seabaugh’s closing statements and the following notation:

 

 

WATCH: “Yes, I’m trying to run the clock out.” A minority in #lalege intentionally ruined the special session and are forcing cuts to higher education, TOPS, sheriffs, district attorneys and children and family services. They put politics over people in LA. #lagov #lalege

12:27 PM – Jun 5, 2018

 

What is most disturbing about all this?  Well, here are several items:

 

  1. Why didn’t ANY Senator challenge the constitutionality of Leger’s bill, especially Sen. Claitor?  With the Edmonson Amendment, it could be argued it was done in the dead of night on a bill nobody was paying any attention to (all true) when dozens of bills were in a similar posture.  That CERTAINLY cannot be argued in this case as HB-12 was the focus of the ENTIRE Louisiana Senate.  So, why did they place Rep. Alan Seabaugh in the position of having to be the voice of reason to question the constitutionality of the bill?  Perhaps many of them know full-well that it’s unconstitutional but fear the wrath of Sen. President John Alario and/or Gov. Edwards had they dared question it!

 

  1. How it is that Gov. Edwards can suddenly be oblivious to the constitutionality concerns of a proposed bill like HB-12?  After all, as depicted in the video below, he certainly said “it got by me,” and faulted himself for his inability to properly vet the bill entailing the “Edmonson Amendment.”  That certainly can’t be said of this measure, for which Edwards was acively lobbying for the passage!  So, what gives, Governor?  Regarding the “Edmonson Amendment,” on July 21, 2014 then-Rep. (and Gubernatorial candidate) John Bel Edwards appeared before the Baton Rouge Press Club.  The late C. B. Forgotston, who is largely responsible for Sound Off Louisiana‘s blog being formed, strongly encouraged future blog founder Robert Burns to attend and, if no member of the “mainstream media” posed the question, to ask of Edwards his thoughts on the amendment.  C. B. correctly predicted the mainstream media would avoid the issue (similarly to what they did recently with Dardenne and the mailing of those Medicaid letters), so Burns posed the question (and Edwards, sensing no member of the “mainstream media” had intentions to pose it, even thanked Burns for doing so).  Here’s the question and Edwards’ response in its entirety:

 


7/14/14 BRPC question by Burns to Edwards entailing Edmonson Amendment (Ironically, Edwards references Sen. J. P. Morrell as the author of the bill into which the controversial “Edmonson Amendment” was inserted by Riser).

 

  1. How can the mainstream media outlets readily aid Gov. Edwards in his scapegoat characterizations of Seabaugh and others and fail to even mention Seabaugh’s concerns (nor Barras’ responses to those concerns) about the constitutionality of HB-12, for which Seabaugh is faulted for blocking and then being the “big bad boggie man” that “intentionally ruined the special session” as per Gov. Edwards’ quote above?

 

For us, the answer to question # 3 is simple:  The mainstream media is guilty of full-blown journalistic malpractice!

 

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future Sound Off posts, simply scroll to the very bottom of this page (mobile devices) or to the end of the right-hand column (desktops) and supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.