Photo Credit: Houma Today
Published: April 28, 2020
BATON ROUGE—A Houma lawmaker criticized Gov. John Bel Edwards today for extending his statewide stay-at-home order through May 15 instead of opening parts of the state sooner.
Rep. Tanner Magee, who as speaker pro temp is the second ranking Republican in the state House, said Edwards’ decision not to let many businesses reopen more quickly will have consequences on the GOP-led Legislature’s willingness to work with him in a bipartisan way when lawmakers reconvene after a nearly two-month recess.
“There were windows of bipartisanship, and I think they probably closed yesterday,” Magee said in an interview. “We’re moving toward a very anti-bipartisan mood.”
The governor’s decision to extend the shutdown longer than many legislators wanted “was really hurtful,” Magee said. “Not intentionally, but in having new members come in that had never been through the process before, and they’re very much itching to do something to lead with this crisis. They feel helpless back in their districts because they can’t do anything, and that has caused a situation where people are kind of spiraling out to the wings.”
Edwards and Republican leaders have worked together reasonably well so far through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sickened more than 27,000 state residents and killed more than 1,750.
Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, who is running for reelection, accompanied Edwards at his briefing Friday and agreed the state should only begin to reopen once data about the spread of the virus meets guidelines created by the Trump Administration.
But business groups and some Republican state lawmakers had been urging Edwards to let areas that have not had significant numbers of cases open next weekend, and Magee’s comments signal rising tensions over the timetable.
The tensions come as legislators and the governor need to work together to pass a new budget even as the state’s finances are being decimated by the cost of fighting the virus and the collapse in tax revenue from major industries like gambling, oil and gas and tourism.
Read more at Houma Today.