Special Session Approaching Midpoint | Hurricane DELTA

Jeremy Alford
October 8, 2020

Representatives and senators were rolling along at a decent pace before word of Hurricane Delta escaped the Gulf of Mexico and prompted a pause in the special session Wednesday. Lawmakers will return Monday afternoon and hopes are high inside the rails that they can continue to cooperate on suspending rules to keep instruments moving to the committees and floors.

It’s too soon to tell if the hurricane recess will change any developing strategies. On the issue of the Legislative Branch checking the Executive Branch on the emergency order question, many lawmakers still want to see a bill passed, which would surely be vetoed. That said, life post-Delta may add some urgency to the debate and increase the legislative value of temporary suspension resolutions.

“We are going to accommodate where we can, but there are things that are non-negotiable,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said during an interview on WWL Radio today, adding, “What I can’t do is surrender important tools…”

There was a bit of chatter this week about the House and Senate wrapping up its special session workload ahead of the scheduled Oct. 27 adjournment, and that was still a goal for some in the leadership as of Thursday morning. For now, legislators are focused on preparing their districts for landfall, particularly in southwest Louisiana, which is still reeling from Hurricane Laura.

Edwards also appeared on the Weather Channel this morning and warned Delta’s track is “very close” to where Hurricane Laura made her entrance. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter reached out to residents via social media and warned the region may not be a safe place to be in coming days. “This is not a bad dream,” said Hunter. “It’s not a test run.”

Out on the campaign trail, several candidates dropped new ads this week as attention spans turned to television and the web for the vice presidential debate and, more importantly, weather updates. The outreach by candidates and on behalf of causes will accelerate despite what blows our way, which could make for a messy end to the primary cycle.

The special session, of course, will eventually circle back and trudge ahead, too. Several committee agendas were shored up yesterday and today for next week, but last-minute changes have been commonplace lately. With timelines condensing and veto-proof suspension resolutions on the move, this is no time to blink. After all, depending on the circumstances of the coming days, members from southwestern Louisiana may not want to be in session for much longer.