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Stories about Louisiana

Judicial nominee confirmed to federal district court

On July 28, 2020, the U.S. Senate confirmed David Joseph to a federal judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana by a 55-42 vote. Joseph will join the court upon receiving his judicial commission and taking his judicial oath.

Joseph was nominated to the seat by President Donald Trump (R) on December 2, 2019, to replace Judge Dee Drell, who assumed senior status on November 30, 2017. The nomination was returned to the president at the sine die adjournment of the U.S. Senate on January 3, 2020. The president officially renominated Joseph on January 6. Joseph’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee was held on January 8, 2020, and the committee voted to advance Joseph’s nomination to the full Senate on May 14, by a 12-10 vote.

After Joseph receives commission, the Western District of Louisiana will have:
• No vacancies
• Six Republican-appointed judges

• One Democrat-appointed judge

In addition to Joseph, President Trump has appointed four judges to the court. President George W. Bush (R) appointed one judge to the court, and President Barack Obama (D) appointed one judge to the court.

Since taking office, President Trump has nominated 262 individuals to federal judgeships, 202 of whom have been confirmed. As of July 30, 2020, there were 79 vacancies in the federal judiciary, 49 pending nominations, and three future federal judicial vacancies.

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Candidate filing deadline to run for congressional office passes in Louisiana

On July 24, 2020, the major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Louisiana passed. The candidate filing period ran from July 22 to July 24; the Louisiana State Legislature moved the filing period from earlier in the month in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Prospective candidates filed for the following congressional offices:

U.S. Senate

Louisiana’s Class II Senate seat is up for election. Incumbent Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) filed for re-election to the seat. He was first elected in 2014.

U.S. House of Representatives
All six of Louisiana’s U.S. House seats are up for election. Republicans currently hold five of those seats and a Democrat holds the other. Five of the six incumbents filed for re-election:
  • District 1: Steve Scalise (R)
  • District 2: Cedric Richmond (D)
  • District 3: Clay Higgins (R)
  • District 4: Mike Johnson (R)
  • District 6: Garret Graves (R)

District 5 Rep. Ralph Abraham (R) is the one congressional incumbent not seeking re-election to his seat. He announced on February 26, 2020, that he would be retiring after his current term, in keeping with his decision upon his election in 2014 to serve only three terms.

Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation. The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election is scheduled for December 5, 2020.

Louisiana’s statewide filing deadline is the 50th and final major-party deadline to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The previous statewide filing deadline was on July 14 in Delaware.

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Filing deadline passes to run for school boards in Louisiana

The filing deadline to run for the Orleans Parish and Caddo Parish school boards is on July 24, 2020. In Orleans Parish, all seven seats on the board are up for election. Meanwhile, Caddo Parish is holding a special election for the District 8 seat, which became vacant when Denee Locke (R) moved out of the district.
In Orleans Parish, the primary is scheduled for November 3, 2020, and the general election is scheduled for December 5. In Caddo Parish, the special general election is scheduled for November 3.
These two districts served a total of 55,257 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
In 2020, Louisiana is also holding elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Public Service Commissioner, state Supreme Court, and Circuit Courts of Appeal. The statewide filing deadline is also on July 24.


Louisiana state executive and judicial filing deadline ends July 24

On July 24, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for state executive and judicial offices in Louisiana. Candidates filed for the following offices:

  • Louisiana Public Service Commission (two seats)
  • Louisiana Supreme Court (two seats)
  • Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal (13 seats)

The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election will be held on December 5. Louisiana is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_Public_Service_Commission_election,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_Supreme_Court_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_intermediate_appellate_court_elections,_2020



Candidate filing period for state executive candidates to end in Louisiana

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Louisiana is on July 24, 2020. In Louisiana, prospective candidates may file for two seats on the Public Service Commission.

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Baton Rouge (Mayor, city council, and other municipal seats)

• New Orleans (District attorney and judicial seats)

Louisiana does not conduct true primary elections. Instead, all candidates running for a local, state, or federal office appear on the same ballot regardless of their partisan affiliations. If a candidate wins a simple majority of all votes cast for the office (i.e., 50 percent, plus one vote), he or she wins the election outright. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two finishers, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to a second election. In that election, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins. The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election, if needed, is scheduled for December 5, 2020.

Louisiana’s statewide filing deadline is the last to take place in the 2020 election cycle.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:


Filing deadline to pass for Louisiana congressional candidates

The major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Louisiana is on July 24, 2020. In Louisiana, prospective candidates may file for the following congressional offices:
• U.S. Senate: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) has announced that he is running for re-election. Cassidy was first elected in 2014.
• U.S. House of Representatives: All six of Louisiana’s U.S. House seats are up for election. Republicans hold five of the seats, and a Democrat holds the District 2 seat.
Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation. The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election is scheduled for December 5, 2020.
Louisiana’s statewide filing deadline is the 50th and final major-party deadline to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The previous statewide filing deadline was on July 14 in Delaware.


Voters decide Louisiana special elections on July 11

Ballotpedia covered three special elections on July 11 in Louisiana. Offices on the ballot included a state House seat located in the Jefferson and Lafourche parishes and two judicial positions in Baton Rouge.

In state House District 54, six candidates ran to replace Reggie Bagala (R). James Cantrelle (R), Dave Carskadon (R), Kevin Duet (R), Phil Gilligan (R), Donny Lerille (R), and Joseph Orgeron (R) faced off in the election. Orgeron won the election outright with 55% of the vote. Bagala died on April 9 from coronavirus-related health complications. He was first elected to the position in 2019 with 58.2% of the vote.

Baton Rouge held special elections for the Division C seat on the City Court and for the Division M-Section 2 seat on the state’s 19th Judicial District Court. The special primary election was originally scheduled to take place on April 4, with a general to be held May 9, if necessary. The dates were moved amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. A runoff election is scheduled for August 15, 2020.

Greg Cook (D), Donald Dobbins (D), Whitney Greene (R), Jonathan Holloway, Sr. (D), and Johnell Matthews (D) faced off in the special primary election for the vacant City Court seat. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, Matthews and Greene advanced to a runoff election. Greene received 32% of the vote, and Matthews received 29% of the vote. The special election became necessary when Judge Tarvald Smith vacated the seat after being elected to the 19th Judicial District Court in 2019. The term for the position expires in 2024.

Yvette Alexander (D), Tiffany Foxworth (D), Eboni Johnson-Rose (D), and Jennifer Moisant (D) ran in the special primary election for the Division M-Section 2 seat on the 19th Judicial District Court. Foxworth and Alexander advanced to the runoff election. Foxworth received 37% of the vote, and Alexander received 35% of the vote. The special election became necessary when Judge Beau Higginbotham vacated the seat after being elected to the Division C-Section 3 seat on the 19th Judicial District Court in 2019. The winner will fill a term that expires at the end of 2020. To retain the position, the special election winner will have to run again in the Fall for a full six-year term.

Additional reading:


Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, renew sheriff property tax levy Saturday

On Saturday, East Baton Rouge Parish voters approved a measure to renew an existing property tax levy to fund the East Baton Rouge Parish Law Enforcement District. Voters approved the measure 52.54% to 47.46%.
The measure renewed the property tax at the rate of $373 per $100,000 of assessed property value until the end of 2030. District officials estimated the special property tax renewal would generate $16.3 million in revenue per year, which amounts to about 17% of the sheriff department’s operating budget.
Voters renewed the tax for 10 years in each of the last three decades.
• In May 2010, 84% of voters approved the tax renewal.
• In October 2000, 65% of voters approved the tax renewal.
• In April 1990, 68% of voters approved the tax.


Louisiana to hold special elections July 11

Ballotpedia will be covering three special elections on July 11 in Louisiana. Offices on the ballot include a state House seat located in the Jefferson and Lafourche parishes and two judicial positions in Baton Rouge. A general election is scheduled on August 15, 2020, in case no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the special primary election. Early voting for the July 11 election ends at 6 p.m. on July 4.

In state House District 54, six candidates are running to replace Reggie Bagala (R). James Cantrelle (R), Dave Carskadon (R), Kevin Duet (R), Phil Gilligan (R), Donny Lerille (R), and Joseph Orgeron (R) are facing off in the election. Bagala died on April 9 from coronavirus-related health complications. He was first elected to the position in 2019 with 58.2% of the vote.

Baton Rouge is holding special elections for the Division C seat on the City Court and for the Division M-Section 2 seat on the state’s 19th Judicial District Court. The special primary election was originally scheduled to take place on April 4, with a general to be held May 9, if necessary. The dates were moved amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Greg Cook (D), Donald Dobbins (D), Whitney Greene (R), Jonathan Holloway, Sr. (D), and Johnell Matthews (D) will face off in the special primary election for the vacant City Court seat. The special election became necessary when Judge Tarvald Smith vacated the seat after being elected to the 19th Judicial District Court in 2019.

Yvette Alexander (D), Tiffany Foxworth (D), Eboni Johnson-Rose (D), and Jennifer Moisant (D) are running in the special primary election for the Division M-Section 2 seat on the 19th Judicial District Court. The special election became necessary when Judge Beau Higginbotham vacated the seat after being elected to the Division C-Section 3 seat on the 19th Judicial District Court in 2019.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_state_legislative_special_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/City_elections_in_Baton_Rouge,_Louisiana_(2020)
https://ballotpedia.org/Political_incumbents,_candidates,_and_government_officials_diagnosed_with_COVID-19_or_quarantined_due_to_the_coronavirus_pandemic,_2020



Conflict over unclaimed property revenue in Louisiana leads to constitutional amendment on November ballot

In November 2020, Louisiana voters will decide a constitutional amendment designed to resolve a conflict between Governor John Bel Edwards (D) and State Treasurer John Schroder (R) regarding the state’s unclaimed property revenue. If approved, the amendment would do the following:

• Create the Unclaimed Property (UCP) Permanent Trust Fund, with the fund earmarked for payment of claims made by owners of abandoned property
• Allocate funds above administrative costs received due to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 1997 (or its successor) to the UCP Permanent Trust Fund until equal to the state’s estimated unclaimed property potential liability
• Allocate any additional unclaimed property receipts above the state’s potential liability and any investment revenue from the UCP Permanent Trust Fund to the state’s general fund
• Authorize the treasurer to invest up to 50% of the UCP Permanent Trust Fund in equities

The Uniform Disposition of Property Act was passed in Louisiana in 1972. From 1972 to 2019, the state treasurer collected $1.3 billion in unclaimed property—such as abandoned bank accounts, IRAs, and 401(k) accounts; unclaimed pensions, Social Security benefits; unredeemed U.S. Savings Bonds; and uncollected insurance proceeds and utility deposits. From this, $463 million was remitted according to claims by the owners of the formerly unclaimed property. The remaining revenue was transferred to the state’s general fund, except for a certain amount transferred to the I-49 Leverage fund. In the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, State Treasurer John Schroder did not transfer $32.5 million in unclaimed property revenue above the amount remitted to claimants to the general fund, saying the money did not belong to the state and should be kept in case its rightful owners come forward.

In February 2020, Gov. Edwards sued Schroder, requesting the court to order the treasurer to transfer the $32.5 million to the general fund. On May 26, 2020, District Court Judge Richard Moore, III, ruled in favor of Gov. Edwards. Schroder said he would appeal the ruling. Edwards and Schroder agreed to a deal, however, that included (a) Schroder releasing the $32.5 million and an estimated $25 million for the following fiscal year and (b) this constitutional amendment to establish a permanent fund for unclaimed property revenue starting in July 2021.

Senator Michael Fesi (R) introduced the constitutional amendment as Senate Bill 12 on June 4, 2020. On June 25, 2020, the state House passed an amended version of Senate Bill 12 in a vote of 95-3, with six absent. On June 26, 2020, the state Senate concurred with the House amendments in a vote of 35-0, with four absent.

This amendment joins six others put on the November 2020 ballot by the Louisiana Legislature during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions. From 1995 through 2019, Louisiana voters decided 189 constitutional amendments. During even-numbered years, there were 121 constitutional amendments. An average of 10 measures appeared on even-year statewide ballots, with the total number ranging from four to 21. Louisiana voters approved 75% (141 of 189) and rejected 25% (48 of 189) of constitutional amendments since 1995.

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