Is conservatism working?
WE LIVE IN A RED STATE. That’s no secret. So many Louisiana residents take pride in our state’s conservative values. Traditional notions of family, “small” government, emphasizing the importance of being business friendly,
being tough on crime—violent and victimless alike— and the preservation of unborn pregnancies are all key tenets of this mindset. Does this mindset behoove us at all?
Louisiana’s legislative session recently got under way and this is the time of year the ideologies of our state are most apparent. One of the most controver- sial bills thus far has been HB 388 also known as the safe abortion act. This bill requires doctors to have “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic and would force 3 of Louisiana’s five abortion clinics to close. One would think that such legislation would come from some old white male Republican, right? WRONG.
This legislation was sponsored by Katrina Jackson, 16th district state representative who happens to be an African American Democrat. When asked—by several people—why this bill was necessary, Jackson failed to provide any statistics for the state of Louisiana and resorted to only posting links from anti-abortion websites like Lifenews. com that had nothing to do with this state whatsoever. Rep. Jackson is no stranger to such conservative ideals as she sponsored a bill that would allow students to voluntarily participate in the Lord’s Prayer—as if they were prohibited—at school? Wouldn’t you think someone who has the town with largest wealth gap in the nation in her district would have different priorities?
Also this session, the House Commerce Commit- tee has killed a bill aimed at prohibiting housing dis- crimination against LGBT individuals? Maybe I am missing something but
who exactly does allowing discrimination help? Also there is the ever present problematic way in which Louisiana handles its pe- nal system. House bill 227 makes it more of a crime to assault referees than to assault the general population.
Another recent bill added a mandatory minimum for those who flee from law enforcement—regardless of reasoning—and would punish those who violate
traffic laws in this process more harshly than those who violate them in under other circumstances?
Given the amount that this state is already spending on incarceration, can we really afford any of this? Is conservatism working for Louisiana?
Terry Young is a survey researcher for the LSU Public Policy Research Lab in Baton Rouge.