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Louisiana editorial roundup

July 17, 2019

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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July 17

The Houma Courier on the effects of Hurricane Barry:

None of us wants to go to the trouble and expense of stocking up and preparing for a storm that never comes. But none of us wants to do all those things for a storm that does come either. And between the two, the former is the preferable outcome.

Hurricane Barry took its time getting past us, bringing wind and rain and high water. But even a weak storm could have delivered much worse. We should count our blessings with this one and hope that it’s the worst we see this year.

We endured some damage from wind and water. Debris littered some streets. And power outages continued into this week. But it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, as we all know.

We remember all too well the hurricanes and tropical storms of the recent past that left misery and destruction in their wakes. We put up with long power outages and widespread flooding — sometimes from storms that never even got close to us.

This time was different. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our coordinated and organized public officials, people were kept informed of where there were dangers of rising water and the areas where people should evacuate.

We might have chuckled once or twice at the national media’s sensational coverage. But this was no laughing matter. Barry easily could have been much worse.

The lingering danger, as we have seen sometimes, is that the passing of a storm that does little damage can lull us into a sense of complacency in the face of another storm. And another storm, of course, can be an entirely different matter. Yes, we had good luck this time, but there is no guarantee that that luck will carry over to the next storm that threatens the Gulf Coast.

We all know that, of course. But it’s difficult to separate in our thoughts our good fortune this time with what could be a tremendously damaging storm the next time around.

Our best bet is to stay on our toes. It is still early in the hurricane season, and just about anything can happen between now and the end. But we can certainly rejoice in our collective good luck getting through Barry.

Let’s hope that every hurricane comes and goes like this one. But let’s remember that is unlikely to be the case.

Online: www.houmatoday.com

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July 17

American Press on Congress considering a minimum wage increase:

Louisiana legislators have refused for the last four years to create a minimum wage higher than the federal wage of $7.25 per hour. Now, the U.S. House is going to consider increasing the federal wage to $15 per hour.

It’s unlikely an increase that large can pass muster, but it appears a higher wage of some amount may be possible. Some perennial opponents of increasing the minimum wage are indicating a compromise may be possible.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has promised to raise the minimum wage and defends the $15 proposal. She said it would increase wages for up to 27 million Americans and lift 1.3 million people out of poverty, including 600,000 children.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in an analysis said $15 would increase the pay of millions of workers, but it could also trigger an estimated 1 million job losses. However, some say the losses could be as high as 3.7 million.

Two of Louisiana’s House members have different views on the issue, according to a report in The Advocate. U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said he is firmly opposed to the idea. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, who is running against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, said he would be open to debate.

Scalise said, “Why don’t we celebrate that the economy is growing and do more things to help grow the economy instead of pass bills that have been proven to kill jobs in America?”

Abraham said, “We’ll see what happens as this discussion goes on. Fifteen dollars is not workable — it just puts people out of business.”

The newspaper said Edwards’ argument has been that 29 other states, including some of Louisiana’s neighbors, have minimum wage levels higher than the federal rate. Eighteen states began 2019 with minimum wage increases. Arkansas approved an $11 per hour minimum wage with a ballot initiative supported by 68 percent of its voters.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said it is willing to work on a minimum wage hike, but not the full $15 per hour that some Democrats want.

Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said there is a reasonable approach that members and the business community can come together on. Double digits are not out of the question, Bradley said, if other pro-business measures are combined with the wage increase.

Even if a higher federal minimum wage makes it through the House, any increase could have tough going in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. Public sentiment, which seems to favor a higher wage, could play a role in the final outcome.

Online: https://www.americanpress.com

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July 11

The Advocate on how Essence Festival is a stage for national and state politics:

It takes a mighty music festival to attract seven presidential candidates and a popular former first lady, but then, the Essence Festival is much more than an opportunity to dance a summer night away in the Superdome.

Celebrating its 25th year, all in New Orleans but for a brief post-Katrina exile in Houston, Essence Fest is by now an annual institution, an economic boon during the city’s slow tourist season, and a chance for the target African-American female audience to hear from leaders in all sorts of arenas (organizers have long since dropped the word “music” from the fest’s title, to emphasize its broader offerings). This year those leaders included not only Michelle Obama, ... but Democratic hopefuls Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Bill De Blasio and Michael Bennet, who spoke during day sessions.

That they all came to Louisiana, which won’t hold its primary until April and which is always a general election afterthought, is a testament to what fest organizers have built over a quarter-century.

And it gave visitors and locals alike the chance to hear the candidates zero in on issues important to them, such as Harris’ proposal to remove barriers to home ownership and Booker’s “Baby Bonds” proposal to allow children to build capital, even if they come from families with limited means.

Yes, they are all Democrats. That makes sense, given that the party is in the midst of a competitive primary season while the Republicans are presumably set to renominate President Donald Trump, and that most African Americans vote Democratic. And yes, in addition to touting policies of particular interest to these voters, the candidates made their disapproval of the president clear.

Yet their presence here should be welcomed by everyone who cares about Louisiana. And that brings us to U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip whose district includes parts of New Orleans.

Scalise took to these pages ... to offer his own welcome to the visiting presidential candidates, but it was a decidedly backhanded one.

“While I hope they enjoy Louisiana’s world-famous hospitality, I’d like to know if they’ll be explaining how their far-left agenda would decimate Louisiana’s economy, increase hospital wait times for seniors, and undermine our national security,” he wrote. He then proceeded to offer a laundry list of Republican talking points that were clearly designed to resonate with his own political base, not Essence visitors.

What a lost opportunity. Rather than playing the usual political games, Scalise could have used their visit to focus on shared concerns, just as he often does with his friend and Democratic colleague from New Orleans, Cedric Richmond. Flooding and the rise of extreme weather come to immediate mind.

And putting the city’s best foot forward should be a nonpartisan goal. Besides, while everyone knows Scalise is a Trump supporter, by the time Essence Fest marks its 27th year, one of these people could be president.

Online: www.theadvocate.com

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