The Louisiana Legislature faces a Jan. 15 deadline to redraw the state’s congressional map to accurately reflect the state’s Black population, or a federal district court will do the job instead. That was the result of a ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday afternoon. Gov.-elect Jeff Landry has announced he will call a special session to address the issue once he takes office on Jan. 8. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Meghan Friedmann reports on the state’s final chance to draw fair congressional districts.
Landry will be operating on a tight schedule. The Louisiana Constitution requires the governor to give at least a week’s notice for a special session, and the Jan. 15 deadline falls exactly one week after Landry takes office. The governor-elect also is widely expected to call a special session on crime during the same month. The appeals court’s ruling does provide some flexibility to lawmakers by allowing the district court to “provide modest additional time” if the Legislature is “considering adopting a new map at that deadline.”
America’s affordable housing crisis has reignited the popularity of a 19th-century fringe economist’s favorite tax policy: the land-value tax. Henry George’s idea that a land’s value be derived from the land itself, not the structure built on it, has been heralded by some as a way to spur development, while others view it as a panacea to addressing poverty. The New York Times’ Conor Dougherty spoke with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, whose city is awash in real estate speculators:
The refrain is a windup for Mr. Duggan’s scheme to fix the blight: a new tax plan that would raise rates on land and lower them on occupied structures. Slap the empty parcels with higher taxes, the argument goes, and their owners will be forced to develop them into something useful. In the meantime, homeowners who actually live in the city will be rewarded with lower bills. … The notion that land is an undertaxed resource — and that this distorts markets in destructive ways — unites libertarians and socialists, has brought business owners together with labor groups and is lauded by economists as a “perfect tax.” And yet despite all that agreement, there are just a handful of examples of this policy in action, and none in America that match the Detroit proposal in scale.
Latest on government shutdown
For the second time this year, the U.S. government is facing the prospect of a shutdown as Congress struggles to pass legislation to keep the doors open. The current budget agreement expires on Friday, and while the chances of a shutdown are low, it would cause millions of federal workers and military personnel to be sent home or forced to work without pay and cause hardships for American families and the broader economy. The Washington Post’s Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann Caldwell report on House Speaker Mike Johnson’s emerging plan to keep the government open.
Johnson ultimately decided to move forward with a stopgap funding proposal meant to appease the hard right while trying not to alienate the centrists. The result was a two-tiered funding schedule that does not include other demands from across the GOP conference, like steep budget cuts, a border security proposal and funding for Israel or Ukraine. Instead of appeasing just one ideological faction, the proposal has angered the hard right, puzzled the middle and was mocked by the White House. But it may attract enough support, including from Democrats in the House and Senate, to land on the president’s desk this week.
A final blow for clemency requests
A federal judge last week dealt a final blow to 55 Louisiana death row inmates seeking commutation to life sentences. U.S. District Judge Kelly Dick ruled against inmates and their attorneys, who took issue with changes made to the state’s pardon board after Gov. John Bel Edwards pushed for clemency hearings. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Greg LaRose reports on the conclusion to the long-winding saga.
Before any clemency hearings could take place, Landry replaced the board’s attorneys with an outside firm. Board members, who the governor appoints, then decided to replace the clemency hearings with administrative hearings to rule on whether defendants were eligible for a full review. The first 10 of those administrative hearings have taken place, and the board ruled against clemency in each case. Cecelia Kappel, executive director of the Louisiana Capital Appeals Project, said in a statement Dick’s ruling amounts to a rejection of the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to due process.
Number of the Day
$2.8 million – Amount of money that Plaquemines Parish will pay for every permanent job that is created from a new LNG gas-export terminal. The hefty price tag stems from Venture Global’s use of Louisiana’s generous Industrial Tax Exemption Program. (Source: The Lens)