FILE - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry

New Orleans-based appeals court to hear Affordable Care Act constitutionality arguments Tuesday

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, will hear arguments Tuesday about whether the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” is constitutional.

A three-judge panel will review a federal trial court’s decision that the ACA’s individual mandate, and therefore the entire law, is unconstitutional. They will consider whether all the parties involved have standing to challenge the decision, whether the mandate (which is currently not being enforced) is constitutional, and if not, whether the entire law must be thrown out along with the mandate. A decision could be issued as early as this fall, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is one of the state attorneys general challenging the law. Landry also supported a new Louisiana law that directs the state insurance commissioner to create a Louisiana-level replacement of sorts if the ACA is ruled unconstitutional. Landry and Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon told lawmakers they expected Congress to maintain the subsidies to states that make the ACA’s benefits possible even if the law is thrown out, though U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, said he was unsure if that would happen.

Congressional delegation calls for disaster relief

Louisiana’s congressional delegation joined Gov. John Bel Edwards and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser in asking for a federal disaster declaration for the state’s fisheries, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy says.

A fishery disaster determination by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross would allow Congress to appropriate money for relief.

The delegation’s letter to Ross notes the Mississippi River’s current “92-year flood record” and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opening the Bonnet Carré spillway twice in one year for the first time ever. Opening the flood-control structure disrupts many types of aquatic life vital to Louisiana’s seafood industry, the letter says.

Campaign for Louisiana governor warms up

Gov. John Bel Edwards officially kicked off his re-election campaign over the  weekend with an event in his hometown of Amite, the first of a series of rallies around the state. Edwards also has released his first campaign ad, where he touts the current fiscal condition of state government in contrast with former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

Congressman Ralph Abraham, one of two Republican challengers, celebrated a social media post his campaign said was viewed by more than three million people and shared more than 45,000 times. His campaign pointed to the “viral post,” which included a picture of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels at the Washington, D.C. Independence Day event, as evidence his “message is resonating.”

Businessman Eddie Rispone, also a Republican candidate for governor, has released a web ad that emphasizes his support for President Donald Trump. Rispone’s campaign touts his own background as a conservative political “outsider.”

DEQ to hold air permit hearing for controversial plant

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing in Vacherie Tuesday on proposed air permits for a new $9.4 billion ethylene plant proposed by Formosa Petrochemical Corp.

Gov. John Bel Edwards celebrated the project announcement last year, saying it would create 1,200 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs. Some environmentalists and local activists oppose the project, pointing to numerous pollution issues at a similar plant owned by the company in Texas.

Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.