Nolatarian Goes to Washington 11/14 – 11/18/11

“Nolatarian Goes to Washington” is a weekly column on the activities of Louisiana Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu and Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond.

Senate

There was only one major vote this week. HR 2112 passed in the Senate, with Vitter dissenting, that authorized appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for “other purposes.” For more on these other purposes. I almost thought I was reading a parody on big government big spending and then I remembered it was a Landrieu press release. Until Congress is able to perform the most basic required function of passing an actual budget, these acts will continually need to be created.

In other events, Landrieu was successful in acquiring an additional $390 million for Louisiana for 2005 storm related hazard mitigation. This is interesting considering the issues with the current program, because why would you have contractor fraud when there’s a pile of over $1 billion for elevation contractors to go after. I guess we can expect to continue hearing stories like this.

After all this redistributing of citizens hard earned income, I’m sure the Senate needs a break.

House of Representatives

Scalise joined on Wednesday in voting for HR 822 that would allow for a national standard of reciprocity for concealed carry firearm permits. The bill passed the House and moves onto the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Hopefully this can continue on to become law. Thursday brought us a little bi-partisan big spending when Scalise joined in the Landrieu appropriations fun in voting for the above mentioned HR 2112; Richmond did not vote. On Friday, a vote to add a Constitutional balanced budget amendment fell 28 votes short. Scalise voted for, Richmond against.

That more or less wraps up the week. Until next time…

November 19 Election Wrap-up

Finally getting this out. November 19 was overall a good election night in my opinion. Kira Orange Jones defeated Louella Givens in BESE District 2 which should give charter school proponents a super-majority to extend reforms throughout the state of Louisiana. A win for public school students and families unhappy with their current school. Also good is the ban on future real estate transfer taxes. Even though the current tax in New Orleans will remain, at least it cannot be raised.

Ray Garofalo won a close race for the 103rd House seat. We’ll follow up to see how true he stays to his stated campaign promises of shrinking government. Other, less known measures allowed the streamlining of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad board of Commissioners and one of the 2 New Orleans East subdivision security districts passed in Lake Barrington.

That will do it for elections in Orleans Parish in 2011. Next on the docket will be qualifying December 7-9 for the March 24, 2012 Presidential and Municipal Primary elections, which will most notably include Arnie Fielkow’s vacated New Orleans City Council seat.

 

Nolatarian Goes to Washington 11/7/11 – 11/11/11

Senate

Mary Landrieu made a lot of disgruntled noise about the Commerce Department revoking an $80 million grant to Louisiana to provide broadband service to rural areas. Because obviously, according to Landrieu the government needs to be in the business of providing high speed internet when the companies who’s business it is to actually do the work don’t see it as a positive cost-benefit situation. Sure, people in those areas would benefit from access to high speed internet, but is that really a basic infrastructure need that the government should be subsidizing in direct competition with existing private companies? I say no.

David Vitter expressed his displeasure with Obama delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election. There weren’t any other really noteworthy events or votes this week in the Senate.

House of Representatives

The House was not in session this week for votes. Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond had a quiet week in their respective committees. One thing of note was Scalise going off on the Christmas Tree tax, which I discussed here.

Congressman Scalise Calls Out Obama, “the Grinch”

I originally posted this at The Southern Libertarian, where I am now contributing articles as well. Check out the site, it’s great!

In case you didn’t hear, the USDA announced on Tuesday, November 8 that a promotional program will be created to promote the live Christmas tree industry. Funding will come from a $0.15/tree tax on producers and importers of live trees. After much uproar in the national media, the USDA said they would delay the program.

Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise (R) joined the outrage and sounded off, calling the president “the grinch who taxed Christmas.” I ask Scalise to take the matter even further. Why stop at just the Christmas tree program? Let’s repeal the entire law that authorizes these programs, the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. A quick glance shows existing programs for the promotion of softwood lumber, mangoes, sorghum, and Haas avocados, to name a few.

Where in the universe of common sense should the federal government be in the business of directly and blatantly promoting one business or industry over another? I know that plenty more examples of this ridiculousness exist, but Christmas trees? Really?! If tree growers feel that it is a worthy expense to charge themselves $0.15 for every tree they sell to try and convince me to buy a real tree instead of pulling out the 20 yr old plastic one every year, then by all means go ahead and hire yourselves a COMPANY who’s business is to advertise and build promotional campaigns. And what about those artificial tree makers? I’m going to go ahead and predict a similar program for them in 5 years to help make up for lost market share as a result of this. After that we’ll obviously need a program for menorah makers and so on and so on.