Editorial Roundup: Louisiana
Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate on political bills that could endanger Louisiana’s attempt at restarting tourism:
With a shorter session designed to be focused on financial concerns, facing a pile of complex budget and taxation bills, why in the world would the Louisiana Legislature embark on a social-issues crusade?
Politics, we suspect.
Gov. John Bel Edwards wisely told lawmakers that the fiscal session ought not be distracted by national crusaders on the far right who want to make an issue of what does not appear to be a problem in Louisiana, transgender athletes in girls’ sports.
One proposal pending in the state House would ban transgender athletes from taking part in girls’ or women’s sports in public schools. It is sponsored by state Rep. Beryl Amedee, R-Houma.
She acknowledged the issue has not caused a problem in Louisiana but called the measure proactive.
We call it a solution in search of a problem. And we’d add that it is a symptom of dysfunction not in high school athletics, but rather in the Republican Party.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican, gave a fiery speech before the party’s state committee last weekend, denouncing some of the party’s officeholders for pushing extremism instead of election-winning conservative solutions.
The Democrat Edwards and the Republican Nungesser are far apart on some issues but have collaborated when needed for the good of the state.
That’s what government, rather than politics, is all about.
And pragmatic concerns of government ought to matter most to legislators, particularly in today’s fiscal sessions.
The National Basketball Association moved its 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, to New Orleans, because North Carolina had passed a law that banned transgender people from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities. That muddled situation was eventually settled, after a fashion, but in that case, Louisiana’s relative political restraint paid off for us economically.
While Amedee might not consider her bill, or others seeking to impose new state restrictions on medical treatment of transgender persons, as radical or discriminatory, national groups not only might but probably will.
The NCAA Board of Governors last week issued a statement that said it will only host championship events in states that are “safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” We think that’s an explicit warning that enactment of any such law here could jeopardize New Orleans hosting the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2022.
Louisiana and in particular the greater New Orleans region is still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic on tourism. As that vital industry recovers, bringing back jobs and tax revenues, it is folly to put ahead of our state’s economic interests a social-issues crusade of a splinter off the GOP mainstream.
The Advocate on the deadly capsizing of a commercial boat off the Louisiana coast:
The coronavirus pandemic, now more than a year old, helped our communities appreciate the contributions of ordinary workers used to being taken for granted.
Doctors and nurses, the folks at the grocery and the pharmacy, the people who keep the lights on — all were suddenly exalted in the way we have always elevated soldiers and police officers for the dangerous and important work they do.
But the people who work in the energy industry have always been heroes, and this week’s tragic accident in the Gulf of Mexico underscored that for all of us.
The fuels that power our cars and heat our homes don’t magically come out of the ground on their own. It takes grit and sacrifice and skill to drill a hole in the seafloor and bring oil and gas safely ashore.
The capsizing of the Seacor Power and the accompanying loss of life reminds us we live, and they work, in a dangerous world.
The lift boat, which services oil platforms, left Port Fourchon on Tuesday afternoon. It was assaulted by hurricane-force winds and 7- to 9-foot seas generated by an unexpected April storm.
The U.S. Coast Guard responded with customary skill and bravery, but the conditions offshore were challenging and there was little room for optimism.
Louisiana workers have been harvesting energy from the Gulf of Mexico for a century now, and it’s something we’re good at. The work is difficult and dangerous, and it can be lucrative in good times but punishing when demand for oil and gas goes south.
These days, the world seems to be down on fossil fuels, and the people who harvest oil and gas are treated as disposable parts, offered “retraining” for the “green energy jobs” of tomorrow. But Louisiana and other Gulf states have powered the most prosperous and successful economy in the history of the planet.
And whatever miracles new technologies deliver, we’ll be needing fossil fuels for years to come, which means the world will count on Louisiana workers to stare down the perils of the sea in this decade and the next and the next.
When workers in the energy industry return to shore from their outings on the Gulf, there are no crowds to stand and cheer, as we did for health care workers during the worst of the pandemic. Nobody salutes and hands out medals, like we do for our military.
But the folks who left Port Fourchon on the Seacor Power are heroes to us, and all of us need to honor the memories of those lost, and support the families hoping for better news from the searches now underway.