Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Edwards, Cantrell want bond commission to fund New Orleans projects despite fight over abortion ban

by BIZ Magazine

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Gov. John Bel Edwards are pushing back on Attorney General Jeff Landry’s attempt to halt funding for the city and parish until local officials agree to uphold the state’s abortion ban.

Gov. John Bel Edward on Tuesday addressed Landry’s request for the State Bond Commission to defer funding for New Orleans until local officials reverse a pledge to defy the state’s ban on abortion.

“The idea that you seek to punish all the people living in a certain area because you are at odds with some of their elected officials, that’s not a reasonable approach,” Edwards said. “You are not just punishing those people. The bond committee meeting at issue will take up reauthorization of funding for projects that are already under construction, and it’s necessary to pay bills that have already been incurred and to complete projects that are underway.

“If you don’t complete those projects, in New Orleans or anywhere, who you’re really punishing are the business people and their workers and their families more than anybody else.”

Edwards described Landry’s request as “misguided,” while Cantrell alleged Landry’s letter is designed “to score political points” ahead of an expected run for governor.

“The attorney general’s hostility towards reproductive freedom comes as no surprise. However, what is surprising and troubling, is that the attorney general would place critical infrastructure and state assets in harm’s way just to score political points for his run for governor,” Cantrell wrote in a prepared statement.

“By politicizing an essentially technical process, the attorney general demonstrates he would rather score cheap political points on the backs of women than govern – residents and the business community just are not top priorities,” she wrote. “Literally: no second round of state bond financing can move forward until all of the projects designated by the legislature as ‘Priority 1’ are funded.”

Landry penned a letter to Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder, chairman of the State Bond Commission, on Tuesday in response to a pledge from New Orleans officials to ignore state laws that ban abortion under most circumstances.

The New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a resolution on July 7 that prohibited city officials and local law enforcement from using public funds or resources to enforce the states abortion trigger laws, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month. Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams also promised not to prosecute abortion providers, while Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson vowed to defy the law by refusing to accept any person into custody at the Orleans Justice Center who is arrested for violating the abortion ban.

“As Attorney General and member of the Bond Commission, it is my belief that a parish or municipality should not benefit from the hard-working taxpayers of this state while ignoring laws validly enacted by the people through their representatives,” Landry wrote. “In light of the city’s open defiance of the will of the people of Louisiana, I urge the Bond Commission to defer any applications for the City of New Orleans, Orleans Parish, and any local governmental entity or political subdivision under its purview.”

Landry specifically cited proposals on the bond commission’s agenda for Thursday regarding the New Orleans Aviation Board’s North Terminal Project and lines of credit for the City of New Orleans.

The dispute comes as the state is awaiting a decision on the future of a temporary restraining order currently blocking the state’s abortion ban from taking effect. East Baton Rouge District Judge Ron Johnson extended the order on Tuesday until a hearing scheduled for July 29.

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