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Louisiana delays critical flood relief funds to New Orleans over abortion policy

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Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) successfully asked the Louisiana Bond Commission on Thursday to approve a $39 million future line of credit to the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board — which the city needs for its flood response postpone until city officials agree to enforce state abortion ban. The move comes right at the start of hurricane season, the same day that New Orleans has a flood advice.

The funding, held hostage, would be used specifically to build a power station for the Sewerage & Water Board to help fight flooding. Melinda Deslatte, research director at the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, tweeted live Today’s meeting where Republican politicians voted to punish New Orleans, a Democrat stronghold in the state, for defending abortion rights after a near-total ban. (Officials in New Orleans, including the policehave sworn not enforce the new ban of the state that already has pushed out all three of its abortion clinics.)

Paul Rainwater, a lobbyist for the city of New Orleans, told Landry that withholding the funds “puts a lot of people at risk” and that Republican leaders should “find something nonessential to look into, not the sewers and the water board.” ” Flooding in New Orleans, a notorious hurricane hotspot, can be deadly: Nearly 2,000 people died after Hurricane Katrina, for example.

Louisiana State Senator Jimmy Harris, a Democrat from New Orleans, pointed out at the meeting that there was indeed flooding on the city’s streets when the Bond Commission first delayed those funds in July. The power plant, he said, designed to protect an estimated 384,000 people. Even Republican state senator Bret Allain warned that he finds targeting New Orleans for its pro-abortion stance “problematic” because the Sewer and Water Board is a federally created agency.

Landry reportedly claimed the state should be able to use the “tools at our disposal” to get New Orleans to enforce the state’s abortion ban. The lawyeris Sam Karlin reports that the Attorney General said, “If you look at the first four letters of politics, it’s POLI, it’s the first four letters of politics.”

Landry, who is likely to run for governor in 2023, gave New Orleans a direct ultimatum: enforce the abortion ban or let your residents suffer severe flooding. “Now the shoe is on her foot,” he said. “If you want this project to go ahead, quit the resolution.”

Landry prevailed and the Bond Commission 7-6 elected to delay funding.

Speaking to Jezebel after the vote, Rainwater (yes, that’s actually his name!) said it was “crucial” for New Orleans to receive funding for this ambitious project, which has been in the works since 2017. “To be perfectly clear, we need to keep moving this project forward so that it can be completed by 2024,” he told me. “It’s incredibly important for this city to protect life.”

Rainwater said that 25 percent of the state’s economy originates from New Orleans, so it would not only protect the lives of residents, but also protect the economy and assets like the Superdome and Audubon Park. He said the abortion issue should be “decoupled” from the vote on funding. “The bond commission serves to discuss financing of infrastructure and to lend money. It’s not about talking about issues like abortion or gun control. It just isn’t.”

When today’s meeting took place, a flood warning was issued in New Orleans. August marks the start of peak hurricane season in the city, which lies below sea level and has a notoriously untrustworthy levee and stormwater pump system.

https://jezebel.com/louisiana-delays-critical-flood-response-funds-to-new-o-1849430931 Louisiana delays critical flood relief funds to New Orleans over abortion policy

Andrew Schnitker

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