Political Chatter (06.11.24)

Political Chatter (06.11.24)
Jun 11, 2024

—LSU SURVEY SHOWS PARTISAN SHIFTS: LSU’s annual Louisiana Survey indicates 61 percent of Louisiana residents think the state is headed in the wrong direction, while 27 percent have the opposite view. Democrats (70 percent) and independents (65 percent) are more likely than Republicans (56 percent) to say the state is heading in the wrong direction, compared to last year when more Republicans (68 percent) had negative views than Democrats (52 percent). The survey has found similar shifts in prior years when the governor’s office changed parties. Among liberals, 67 percent said the state was heading in the wrong direction in 2023 and 68 percent say so this year. Among conservatives, 63 percent said the state was heading in the wrong direction in 2023 compared to 57 percent this year. Moderates have shifted much further; the share saying the state is heading in the wrong direction grew from 56 percent in 2023 to 67 percent in 2024.

—LLA SEES LOCAL BROADBAND BARRIERS: While ConnectLA, the state broadband office, is addressing state-level barriers to broadband expansion, local hurdles also need attention, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor says. Other states have implemented policies and regulations to streamline permitting, facilitate right-of-way access, set guidelines for local governments to assess ROW fees, and establish timelines for approving or denying ROW applications. The LLA reviewed three programs that will provide up to $1.8 billion in federal funding to connect Louisiana residents with high-speed internet. Louisiana “will likely have to extend the sunset date for ConnectLA to ensure proper oversight of projects,” according to the LLA. “In addition, the task of closing the digital divide is likely to take longer than the next five years for which federal funding is now available, so the state may need to allocate long-term staffing and resources to ensure that long- term goals related to broadband adoption and digital equity are achieved and sustained.”

—THE PSC’S ROLE: The LLA also says the state Public Service Commission could improve oversight of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund providers by reviewing all project information before annually certifying providers. RDOF is considered a high-risk program due to providers potentially underbidding, then defaulting on their awards, leading to service gaps in rural areas. However, PSC Executive Secretary Brandon Frey says the commission’s jurisdiction over broadband providers is narrow. “State Commissions have only been delegated authority to grant broadband providers [eligible telecommunications carrier] status within the Commission’s respective state,” he writes, adding that the criteria for ETC status was established 20 years ago with telephone service providers in mind.  

—CORPS FUNDING FOR LA: Louisiana’s congressional delegation secured almost $614 million for Army Corps of Engineers projects throughout the state. Jeff Brooks in the Washington, D.C. office of Adams and Reese provides the rundown in a guest column in tomorrow’s edition of Beltway Beat

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