When I first started getting into politics, I was really focused on national discourse. I knew that state and local politics played a role, but it always seemed that the federal level mattered most. Not to mention, I also found it entirely more interesting.
Although I still take much interest in federal politics, I have since learned to not turn a blind eye to what happens on the state level.
Recently, we have seen how big of an effect local and state officials can have on certain issues. For instance, many COVID-19 restrictions are monitored on the state level. Some states still have mask mandates, while some do not. Plus, just a few weeks ago, we saw state legislation passed in Georgia dealing with election integrity.
The state legislature is far from irrelevant, and it is my hope that more people will take interest in it. In fact, the Louisiana State Legislature is starting its 2021 session this Monday, April 12. For those interested, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about issues that directly affect the people of Louisiana.
State officials will convene at the Louisiana Capitol for nearly two months to discuss and vote on several important bills. It is vital for Louisiana residents to be aware of what type of legislation is being pushed through.
Unsurprisingly, Louisiana's budget will be on the agenda. There will likely be proposals to cut income tax rates, and possibly a bill to increase the gas tax. Apparently, some feel that the 20 cents per gallon Louisiana residents currently pay in gas taxes is not enough to fix our infrastructure.
Another thing to look for: a push for closed primaries. Later in the session, expect discussions about redistricting. That debate is projected to lead to an intense special session wherein both state and congressional districts will be redrawn.
It will be entertaining to see what type of legislation gets passed, seeing as both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, but Gov. John Bel Edwards is a Democrat.
Rest assured, this will be an interesting and important time for our state and its people.
Even for those who are not as involved in politics, or do not care as much, I would encourage you to actively watch everything that takes place. Everything that goes on could have a direct impact on you, so it is crucial to be educated on what is being implemented.
Believe me, I know policies and people on the federal level often get more news coverage, which in turn makes it easier to follow and care about. However, let’s try to have that same interest in the things going on in the very state in which we live. It matters.
Elizabeth Crochet is a 19-year-old political communication sophomore from New Orleans.