La. lawmakers kick off special session by taking a long weekend

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana legislators kicked off the special session with a long weekend.

The House will not come back until Monday, June 12. Meanwhile, while the Senate is not scheduled to start its meetings until Wednesday, June 14 (they need to wait for the House to act and send bills to the upper chamber).

Lawmakers were forced into a special session after they failed to pass a budget by the Thursday night deadline.

Governor John Bel Edwards was highly critical of them taking the weekend off, publishing a tweet with a picture of the empty House chamber early Friday morning. In the tweet, he lashed out at House lawmakers, accusing them of showing "no sense of urgency" in passing a budget.

"They should be here working," Edwards said during a Thursday evening press conference.

Several House and Senate lawmakers say they wish they were getting down to work, including Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston. However, he admitted there may be good reason for a break.

"There was so much acrimony and so much hurt feelings and anger and what not that should not have ever occurred that we probably needed a cooling off period," said Shadoin.

Emotions boiled over in the last hour of the regular session, with some lawmakers yelling on the House floor. It was House conservatives versus the Senate and governor. Neither side could reach an agreement on how to shape the state's budget in time.

"There was no middle ground, and unfortunately that's a tough way to negotiate," said Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge.

The question is: if they could not work together over the past two months, why will anything change in the next week and a half? Many are not optimistic.

"When we get into a mentality like that, the rope in the tug of war is the people of Louisiana," said Shadoin.

There are some quiet rumblings of a possible coup in the House, aimed at getting new leadership, including possibly a new speaker.

Regardless, however, 9News political analyst, Jim Engster, says lawmakers will likely get their act together by the end of the session simply because they must. The state needs a budget for the new fiscal year, which starts on July 1.

"Something's going to have to give, and I'm sure it will, but not without some haggling," said Engster.

The special session is scheduled to last until Monday, June 19.

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