Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The News-Star of Monroe, La., on speed traps:
Here’s a news flash about speed trap communities:
If you’re obeying the speed limit, you shouldn’t have a problem.
For those of us whose jobs and families frequently require us to drive around the state, we know where law enforcement is primed to support local revenue coffers with speeding ticket dollars. But evidently, not everyone is alert to those “speed trap towns.”
Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, got House Transportation and Public Works Committee approval Monday of HB 961 requiring the posting of signs warning motorists that they are approaching a speed trap and should slow down. The 9-3 vote sent the bill to the full House for consideration.
“I want something that grabs people’s attention” so they will slow down, he said. “What better way than to post a sign?” …
The true purpose of asking motorists to slow their pace should be related to protecting local traffic and citizens within a municipality, not to keep a town afloat. The speed should be stepped down gracefully from 65 or 55 to 40 or 35 and then possibly lower based on population and business density within the town. Motorists should have a chance to slow down without being in violation of a law.
We could be more in support of Pylant’s legislation if it addressed appropriate legal speed-limit signage at appropriate distances slowing motorists down before they entered a community and stepping it back up at the same pace as people leave populated areas.
No town should be “tricking” motorists into tickets. That’s the definition of a speed trap, and it shouldn’t be tolerated. But if motorists have ample warning and opportunity to slow their speed, it’s not a trap.
It’s obeying the law.
American Press of Lake Charles, La., on the school funding shortfall
Public school superintendents and school board members are up in arms over a standstill budget appropriation approved by their state governing board.
State lawmakers are now considering the outlay in the Minimum Foundation Program, which provides state funding to public school systems. They have only the power to approve it or reject it, sending it back to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for modifications.
What has upset the public school administrators is the MFP lacks its traditional 2.75 percent annual increase. That amounts to about $70 million for the 2014-2015 school year. They say that without the additional money, school systems will have to shoulder increased costs due to inflation and the alarming rise in retirement costs …
Whether state lawmakers are able to provide the same sort of rescue this year is questionable. Though members of the Jindal administration have waived off criticism of the governor’s budget plan, some state lawmakers say that it may be as much as $80 million short of being balanced.
Such shortfalls put state legislators in a bind, and add to the degree of difficulty those voices that are crying out for more money. The pie is remaining the same while the demands on it are getting greater.
The Daily World of Opelousas, La., on burying military veterans with honors:
When a U.S. military veteran dies, he or she is entitled to be buried with military honors.
It is unfortunate that in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain active duty personnel to participate in veterans’ funerals. In the past month, there have been seven funerals for veterans in the Acadiana area, said Tom Green, commandant of the local chapter of the Marine Corps League, but only three had any of the elements of a military funeral.
The men and women who served this nation deserve better.
Members of several veterans’ groups got together recently at American Legion Post 69 to find a way to fill the void. They plan to form an honor guard who would supplement active duty personnel at the funerals, or in their absence, would provide full military honors …
The goal is to have 19 veterans attend each funeral; Green hopes to get at least 38 volunteers, in case the group is called upon to serve at more than one funeral at the same time.
The newly formed group seems to have already struck a chord with people around the area. They have received responses from as far away as Iberia Parish and Baton Rouge, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office and a medical practice in Lake Charles, Green said.
The group has a single goal: “We want to make sure not a single one is forgotten,” Green said.
We echo that sentiment …
Ruston Leader of Ruston, La., on coastal erosion:
When it comes to Louisiana’s coastal erosion problem, John Barry doesn’t mince words.
“If you think the northern part of the state can thrive while the southern part of the state melts into the ocean, you better rethink your position,” Barry, founder and head of Restore Louisiana Now, said during an interview in Ruston recently.
Restore Louisiana Now is a nonprofit advocacy group created to raise awareness of a lawsuit a New Orleans area levee board has against 97 oil and gas pipeline companies with holdings in South Louisiana. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East wants the energy companies to repair damages the authority claims the companies have done to the state’s coastal wetlands, or pay for damage that can’t be fixed ..
If nothing’s done, entire communities, including the New Orleans’ suburbs of Kenner and Metairie, will disappear by 2050, Barry contends. And to hear him tell it, it’s all the oil and gas industry’s fault …
The overarching problem is a Louisiana staple: politics. The state’s coastal zone regulations require that mineral exploration and production sites be restored as closely as possible to their pre-existing condition.
But “the state Department of Natural Resources never enforced the law,” Barry said.
So, Louisiana taxpayers are getting stuck with the bill - to the tune of an estimated $62 million for fiscal year 2015. Though the state has a 50-year, $50 billion master plan to deal with the vanishing coastline, there’s no money for the plan …
It’s a fact that Louisiana’s coastline is receding and will continue to do so. It’s probably also true that the energy companies bear some responsibility. But the biggest tragedy may be that the issue is now so politicized that real problem is mired in the muck ..
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