Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.

The adage that no one’s life, liberty or property is safe as long as the Legislature is in session is not always true. It just seems that way to those who hold no sway at the Capitol.  

What is always true is this: Elections have consequences.

Jeff Landry’s election as governor last autumn, along with , signaled a .  

In their recently concluded annual session, lawmakers dutifully rubber-stamped a draconian agenda pushed by hardline social conservatives. Landry likewise got most of what he wanted, but the sheer volume of his brazen power grabs caused him to lose .

Meanwhile, women and children, teachers and at almost every turn.

Which brings us to my annual tally of the session’s victors and vanquished — Da Winnas and Da Loozas — starting with ...

Da Winnas 

1. Gov. Jeff Landry — The governor didn’t win all his battles, but lawmakers approved enough of his ambitious agenda to make him this year’s Big Winna. Landry also helped his key political backers get what they wanted. Social conservatives doubled down on the nation’s strictest anti-abortion law and passed cruel anti-LGBTQ laws. defeat or weaken some business-backed changes to Louisiana’s legal system, while supporters of educational savings accounts (ESAs) got a scaled-down version of Vouchers 2.0. Meanwhile, the governor will soon get control of the state ethics board and nearly 150 other boards and commissions — including higher-ed governing boards. He also convinced lawmakers to keep his travel schedules confidential for an unlimited time if there are “security concerns.” And he’s just getting started.

2. The Senate — The upper chamber, , showed what legislative independence looks like. Senators killed or weakened many of Landry’s bridge-too-far initiatives, and Henry bore the governor’s ire for his colleagues. Most notably, he didn’t publicly challenge or criticize Landry. That showed real finesse. He also spared senators from having to take some tough votes and made sure the money bills got done in time to avoid the chaos that marked the final hours of last year’s session.

3. Social Conservatives and Theocrats — Louisiana’s Grand Inquisitors have an iron grip on the Legislature and an ambitious ally in Landry. That makes them the strongest — and most feared — force in the Capitol. They demanded and got what they wanted: ever-harsher abortion restrictions and anti-LGBTQ laws.For good measure, House Bill 71 requires classrooms in every public university and K-12 school to post a copy of the Ten Commandments — but the bill enumerates 11, not 10, commandments. So, do students get to pick one that doesn’t count? 

4. Insurance Companies — Lawmakers abolished the popular “three-year rule” that limits homeowners policy cancellations. The new law allows insurers to drop up to 5% of their total policies per calendar year, but they must get Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple’s approval to drop more than 5% of their policies written in any single parish. Other new laws will allow insurance companies to raise premiums without obtaining prior approval from Temple and give them more time to pay claims — plus a “cure period” to resolve disputes with homeowners.

5. AARP — Lawmakers rejected several attempts to pass a bill that would have shielded nursing home operators from lawsuits about staffing, poor patient care and other complaints. Critics, led by AARP, dubbed the measure the “Bob Dean Protection Act,” a reference to the man whose nursing homes sent 843 patients to a squalid warehouse during Hurricane Ida, leading to a number of deaths, hospitalizations and lawsuits.

6. Organized Labor and Public Employees — Surprisingly to many, lawmakers scuttled anti-union bills that would have significantly restricted labor organizations’ activities, banned collective bargaining agreements for public employees and made it harder for private-sector workers to unionize. They also rejected Landry’s proposed constitutional amendment that would have given him more control over the state Civil Service Commission and undermined key protections for civil service workers. 

7. Trial Lawyers — Some high-powered plaintiff lawyers got behind Landry early in his campaign for governor, and it paid off ... for now. The governor helped them sidetrack or weaken several “tort reform” bills that business interests hoped would pass. But this fight never ends.

8. Medical Weed Companies — A new law will transfer the state’s two exclusive medical pot-growing licenses from LSU and Southern University to a pair of private growers the colleges had taken on as partners. Supporters of the change say it brings Louisiana into line with other states that have legalized medicinal cannabis.Critics noted that John Davis, husband of Baton Rouge Rep. Paula Davis, and GOP mega-donor Boysie Bollinger are president and primary shareholder, respectively, of Good Day Farms, LSU’s medical weed partner. (Rep. Davis recuses herself from votes on marijuana legislation.)

9. Black Voters — The Louisiana Supreme Court’s seven districts hadn’t been redrawn in decades until this year. Lawmakers and Landry agreed to create a second majority-Black district.This one’s been a long time coming.

10.Election Deniers — MAGA election deniers stopped a bill that would have repealed parts of a 2021 law that has hobbled the Secretary of State’s efforts to acquire new voting systems, which Louisiana sorely needs. The 2021 law adds multiple layers of red tape to the purchasing process. 

Which brings us to ...

Da Loozas

1. Women & Children — Louisiana will soon become the first state to classify two abortion-inducing medications, misoprostol and mifepristone, as dangerous controlled substances and criminalize possession of those medications without a prescription. Lawmakers also rejected bills creating rape and incest exceptions to the state’s anti-abortion statutes, cut about $9 million from early childhood education programs and eliminated the state’s ability to seek, obtain or grant waivers from federal work requirements for families participating in the SNAP program.

2.Transparency and Accountability — Lawmakers passed measures that significantly weaken the state’s Public Records Law. Soon to be kept from public view are records related to certain local economic development projects, many judges’ workloads, the Governor’s Mansion renovation task force and the fortified roof program.Henceforth, only Louisiana residents may request public records from the governor's office.Worst of all, cops can now arrest you for being within 25 feet of them if you are told to stand back — even (read: especially) if you’re videoing them abusing or killing a suspect.

3. Teachers — K-12 teachers went without a pay raise again this year and had to fight to maintain the one-time $2,000 stipend that lawmakers gave them last year in lieu of a raise. Compounding their woes, the new ESA law, though watered down, will still divert money from public education and potentially undermine the viability of the teachers’ retirement system.

4. The LGBTQ Community — Trans people already face many forms of bias and discrimination, but now the cruelty is embedded in Louisiana’s statutes. From bathroom and locker room bans to prohibiting talk of sexuality and gender in classrooms, officialdom’s message to LGBTQ people is clear: You’re unloved, unwelcome and unprotected.

5. Gov. Jeff Landry — Enshrining his power grabs in a revised state constitution was the governor’s Holy Grail this session, but senators said “NoNo” to his ConCon. Landry also failed to convince lawmakers to gut the entire Public Records Act, though they did inflict plenty of damage to it. Legislators watered down the governor’s sweeping ESA initiative and rebuffed his push for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given him more appointments to the state Civil Service Commission and weakened key protections for public employees. Landry has not given up on any of those notions, however.Stay tuned.

6. The Hemp-THC Industry — THC-infused drinks and snacks have proliferated across Louisiana in recent years, but lawmakers balked at a total ban. They opted instead to impose age restrictions, ban gas stations from selling hemp-derived THC products, reduce portion sizes and prohibit bars and restaurants from selling the products unless already permitted to do so.

7. Ochsner Health System — For years, the state’s largest health care system effectively forced physicians to leave the state if they wanted to leave Ochsner. This year, Ochsner’s competitors finally convinced lawmakers to put a five-year cap on doctors’ noncompete agreements, depending on their specialties, and significantly reduce the agreements’ geographic reach.

8.Coastal Communities and Cancer Alley — A new law removes representatives of six state agencies from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and adds three new “at-large” gubernatorial appointees who need no professional qualifications or coastal experience whatsoever. Meanwhile, lawmakers approved an industry-backed bill that restricts how data from  is used, despite objections from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activists seeking to reduce pollution in the River Parishes.

9. Private-Sector Workers — Lawmakers once more refused to hike Louisiana’s minimum wage. Adding insult to injury, they  insurance benefits (which are already meager). 

10. Higher Ed — Landry will henceforth appoint all members and chairs of public higher-ed governing boards. It will be telling to see what the governor does with this new power (besides raising wads of campaign cash). It also will be interesting to see how this change is viewed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which grants accreditation to colleges and universities.

To paraphrase another adage, lawmakers could have done less to protect our lives, liberty and property, but they ran out of time.

Clancy DuBos is Gambit's political editor. You can reach him at clancy@gambitweekly.com.