BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – After months of heated debate, the State Bond Commission has approved funding for the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board that had been held up over the city’s resolution against the state’s abortion laws.
The New Orleans City Council passed a resolution stating law enforcement and courts would not prioritize prosecuting people who violate the state’s abortion laws. This spurred frustrations in the Attorney General’s office and led to the State Bond Commission deferring the line of credit for projects already in the works for two months.
There has been an outcry against the move with claims the delay in the line of credit would hold up flood protection projects.
In the Thursday meeting, the support to withhold the money dwindled to just the Attorney General’s office. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser had been absent from the last two meetings where his representative voted in favor of keeping the money from the city. He stated he wanted to undo that and move past the issue to get these projects rolling.
The Attorney General’s office representative Attorney Angelique Freel pushed back that if the projects were so important they could be kicked to the capital outlay process in the legislature to get money. Senate President Page Cortez and Sen. Brett Allain, who are leaders in the outlay process, said it does not work like that. They also said if the line of credit wasn’t approved it could delay the project by two years.
Speaker of the House Rep. Clay Schexnayder asked Freel if New Orleans had broken any laws with the resolution. She could not provide any legal proof that the law had been broken but emphasized that Louisiana’s laws were being “disrespected.”
An attorney for the City of New Orleans made clear the resolution does not say the laws will not be enforced, rather it would not be a high priority. Freel repeatedly pointed to the high crime in the city and the attorney said that is part of why they want to prioritize other issues.
The other members of the commission talked about how policy is not meant to be debated in their meetings as they are tasked to dole out funds for projects with money already allocated.
“If he truly believes they have broken the law he should take it up in the courts. He’s good at suing… these issues are not important here,” Lt. Gov. Nungesser said.
After some tense back and forth between members of the commission and the Attorney General’s office, the $39 million was approved to be sent to the Water and Sewage Board among other projects across the state.
The Attorney General’s office said they would continue to seek all legal action they can against New Orleans in regards to following the state’s abortion laws.
In response to this article the Attorney General’s office responded stating “Mrs. Freel did state yesterday that abortions took place in the city after the SCOTUS decision. She also noted that just because there was an injunction against the AG’s enforcement it doesn’t mean that a doctor that performed an abortion is not without consequence and could lose their medical license.”