John Bel Edwards: Exclusive Interview
Louisiana voters are wondering what the election of Rep. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, as governor will mean to the future of the state. During the recent gubernatorial campaign, Edwards’ Republican opponent, Sen. David Vitter, described Edwards as a left-wing Democrat in the mold of President Barack Obama. For his part, Edwards denied that comparison and emphasized his military experience, his father’s and brother’s service as sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish, and his own pro-life, pro-gun record.
During the recent election, Woody Jenkins, editor of the Capital City News and the Central City News, posed a series of questions to Edwards, who is now the Governor-elect.
Looking back to Edwards’ answers to the questions, one may have a pretty good idea of how Edwards plans to govern the state over the next four years.
Here are the questions posed by the newspapers and Edwards’ answers:
CONSTITUTION AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT
1. Will you oppose any and all legislation which would violate the United States Constitution or the Louisiana Constitution as written?
2. Should the Constitution as written be strictly followed or do you see it as a “living document” that should be more flexible and adjusted for modern times?
EDWARDS: I have mixed feelings. For the most part, I agree with the Supreme Court approach that it has to be a living document.
3. Will you support the security of our elections by:
(a) Requiring proof of U. S. citizenship for all new registrations?
(b) Requiring proper I.D. from all persons casting a ballot?
(c) Requiring a good reason and proper safeguards for voting by mail?
(d) Prohibiting voting online?
EDWARDS: Yes to the first three. As to online voting, perhaps someday there will be sufficient safeguards to make it possible but we’re not there yet.
4. (a) Do you support a return to closed primaries in state elections in Louisiana? (b) Do you support a return to closed primaries in federal elections in Louisiana? EDWARDS: No to both
5. Do you favor the death penalty for crimes such as 1st degree murder?
EDWARDS: It should be at the jury’s option in the appropriate case.
6. Will you support the ban on Internet gambling?
7. President Obama repeatedly refuses to enforce federal law. Yet, he attempts to “make law” by using his power to issue Executive Orders. What are your ideas on how state legislatures can force Obama and the federal government to follow the law?
EDWARDS: Where there is federal overreach, the proper response is to file suit to stop it.
8. Will you oppose any state or federal legislation or treaty that yields U.S. sovereignty in whole or in part to an international organization, nation or group of nations, or any public or private entity?
EDWARDS: Yes, but I would need more information on the specific proposal.
9. Will you support strengthening Louisiana’s Public Records Act, in order to better protect the public’s right to information on state and local government and elected officials?
10. Do you see yourself as an activist governor who will take the lead on many controversial issues or will you react to the issues as they arise?
EDWARDS: I will be a pro-active governor, but you have to do both.
11. Will you support the 2nd Amendment and oppose any additional state or federal gun control?
12. Do you support strengthening Louisiana’s open carry law?
EDWARDS: Yes but it depends on the specific proposal. I would not for example favor legislation allowing you to open carry on the property of someone who denies permission for you to do so.
13. Do you support Louisiana’s concealed carry law?
14. Do you support Louisiana’s Shoot the Burglar Law?
15. Will you oppose efforts by the state or federal government to monitor private communications by American citizens without a warrant signed by a judge particularly describing the person, place, and lawful reason for the search and seizure?
16. Will you oppose passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, which expired in 1982, and any legislation which suggests that it is still before the states?
EDWARDS: Yes, this would not be the proper approach to passage.
17. Will you oppose further infringements on the Right to Property?
EDWARDS: Yes but I would need to know the specifics.
18. Will you support efforts to retain Louisiana law that marriage is between one man and one woman?
EDWARDS: I support marriage as between one man and one woman and co-authored the constitutional amendment to that effect, but it is unclear to me what options are still available.
19. Will you oppose state hate crimes laws?
20. Will you oppose state legislation similar to the so-called “Fairness Ordinance” (rejected by the Baton Rouge Metro Council) which would give any special status or privilege based on sexual orientation?
EDWARDS: I cannot commit to saying I would oppose it without seeing the details of what is proposed.
21. Will you support Louisiana’s right to work law?
22. Will you support preserving a worker’s right to a secret ballot in union elections?
23. Will oppose the federal government’s Real ID Law?
EDWARDS: No, I offered legislation to have Louisiana comply.
TAXES, GOVERNMENT SPENDING, AND FREE ENTERPRISE
24. Will you support legislation to amend the federal Constitution to require a balanced federal budget except in time of declared war?
25. Will you oppose any and all tax increases?
26. Will you attempt to reduce the tax burden on married couples and small business?
27. Will you oppose reauthorizing a state inheritance tax?
28. How should the State of Louisiana address the projected revenue shortfall in the coming fiscal year?
a) New or increased taxes?
b) Cut spending?
EDWARDS: We’ll need a combination of both. But we should start by eliminating inefficiencies and tax expenditures.
29. Will you oppose expanding Medicaid?
3 0. Will you oppose funding for community-organizing groups such as ACORN?
EDWARDS: I don’t think we fund them now. I wouldn’t want to have a law that we couldn’t fund faith-based ministries, but it really depends on the specific situation or organization.
31. Will you insure that every state “entitlement” program includes a provision that able-bodied recipients be required to work as a condition of receiving the benefits?
EDWARDS: It should be required that the person be looking for work.
32. Will you oppose establishing a state minimum wage?
EDWARDS: I favor Congress raising the minimum wage nationwide. Only if Congress fails to act would I favor it.
33. Will you support efforts to repeal laws and regulations which arbitrarily or unnecessarily restrict exploration for oil and gas, the use of fossil fuels, and the refining of petroleum products?
34. Will you support fracking?
35. Do you support broadening the definition of “independent contractor” so that businesses and individuals would be able to contract without automatically being labelled as having the employer-employee relationship, so long as the independent contractor files state and federal taxes?
EDWARDS: Need to study this
36. Do you support repeal of Obamacare?
EDWARDS: No but I do favor fixing portions of it.
37. Please explain the federal government’s modern role in the interpretation of the Commerce Clause and how it affects our economy in Louisiana.
EDWARDS: No response
NATIONAL SECURITY, FOREIGN POLICY, SOVEREIGNTY, AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
38. The threat of Islamic terrorism seems to be growing worldwide. Most recently, a terrorist Islamic army has taken over northern Iraq and slaughtered thousands of innocent people with beheadings and mass executions. What are your ideas on the following:
(a) What, if anything, should the United States do in Iraq to help the Kurds and stop ISIS?
(b) What should the United States do to oppose Islamic terrorism domestically and around the world?
EDWARDS: We should do everything possible to stop ISIS in the Middle East. Here at home, we should step up our efforts to protect ourselves against terrorism.
39. Do you favor using military force if necessary to prevent terrorist states such as North Korea and Iran from obtaining or building nuclear weapons?
EDWARDS: I don’t favor a preemptive attack at this time. However, in the future, it would depend on how imminent the threat is and what intelligence we have on the situation.
40. EMT, or Electro-Magnetic Pulse, is a phenomena that occurs when a nuclear weapon is detonated above ground level. A high altitude nuclear explosion could destroy the electric grid and all computers, telephones, cell phones, electronic equipment, and motorized transportation for up to 1,000 miles, leaving Americans in the dark and without transportation or communication. The Congressional study on EMT estimated that within six months, half the American population would be dead. Even a single nuclear device in the hands of terrorists or a terrorist state, launched from a freighter off the East coast, could have these consequences. There is no need for a highly sophisticated missile system that can hit a specified target, only that the weapon be detonated at a high altitude. An EMT attack represents one of the most serious threats to American security. Will you support tax credits and/or funding necessary to harden Louisiana’s electric grid to protect it from EMT attack and prioritize other safeguards to make such an attack less likely and minimize the possible impact of such an attack?
EDWARDS: This is an issue that should be addressed nationwide. I need more information to assess how imminent this threat really is.
41. Do you believe the world’s climate is warming? If so, do you believe it is caused in part by human activity? Do you support controls on CO2 emissions?
EDWARDS: Yes it is warming and yes it is caused in part by human activity. My support of any controls on CO2 emissions would depend on what specific regulations are proposed, the costs required, and a cost-benefit analysis.
42. Will you oppose any legislation that requires the Louisiana or U.S. to reduce its energy consumption, including a carbon tax, or Cap and Trade legislation?
EDWARDS: Yes to opposing a carbon tax. but some regulations such as gas mileage requirements are the smart thing to do.
43. Free trade is a value that conservatives embrace, but free trade with dictatorial or Communist regimes serves to strengthen their ability to undermine liberty. In the case of Communist China, free trade has also served to destroy America’s manufacturing base, as Chinese government-owned and government-subsidized companies have captured market share, driving tens of thousands of privately-owned American manufacturers out of business.
a) In recent years, Chinese government-owned banks have considered becoming the “private” partner in public-private partnerships in Louisiana, such as the Baton Rouge Loop. Under this proposal, the Chinese government entity would actually own and control the highway. Would you support legislation to prohibit Chinese government entities from participating in public-private partnerships in Louisiana and from owning any of the infrastructure of the state?
EDWARDS: Yes, I am against foreign governments owning or controlling our infrastructure, not just China but any foreign government.
b) Two years ago, the Port of New Orleans proposed legislation to allow the ports in the state to be sold to foreign entities, including those owned by the Chinese Communist government. Will you support legislation which would prohibit our ports from being sold to such entities?
44. Will you support Country-of-Origin Labelling of all fresh food, which originates outside the United States?
BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION
45. Some Republicans say, “We must secure the border first and then adopt comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” But other Republicans say that a promise of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants guarantees that the border cannot be secured. Will you support securing the border, while opposing allowing illegal immigrants to stay in this country or having a path to citizenship?
EDWARDS: We need to look at the real world. We’re not going to deport 11 million people. But we should build the wall and we should not provide a path to citizenship.
46. Will you support strong criminal penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants?
47. Will you support requiring all employers to use the rapid-response Internet system E-Verify to check employees’ Social Security numbers to insure the individual is not an illegal alien?
EDWARDS: Yes, I sponsored legislation to require contractors to verify the legal status of workers.
48. Do you support returning illegal immigrants to their home countries?
EDWARDS: Yes, when we find them. However, we are not going to deport 11 million people. We should not deport people who are relatives of U.S. citizens.
49. Will you support measures that ensure that persons here on temporary visas go home when their visas expire?
EDWARDS: Yes, this is a federal issue.
50. Will you support construction of physical and electronic fences and National Guard troops along the border?
51. Will you vote to allow state or local officials to enforce federal immigration law within our borders?
EDWARDS: Yes, in general, I favor it, but we need to be sure that it is legal.
52. Will you oppose automatic born to illegal aliens, including a constitutional amendment if necessary?
53. Since only U.S. citizens can vote, will you oppose using illegal aliens for purposes of apportionment and redistricting?
EDWARDS: I don’t want them counted for apportionment purposes but we have to be careful because their presence does require costs to state and local government, and that should be taken into consideration. We can’t pretend they are not there.
RIGHT TO LIFE
54. Will you support the Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit abortion?
55. Will you oppose the judge-invented notion that abortion is a constitutional right?
56. Will you sponsor all reasonsable legislation to restore legal protection for unborn children?
57. Will you oppose all government funding of abortion?
58. Should doctors who perform abortions be required to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in order to work in an abortion clinic?
59. Will you oppose all government funding for Planned Parenthood?
EDWARDS: I’d like the current investigation to proceed. My understanding is that they are not performing abortions in Louisiana. I would not want their other work to close. We would need to provide alternative locations.
60. Will you support legislation to prohibit research that involves killing human embryos?
61. Will you support legislation to ban all forms of human cloning?
EDUCATION AND PARENTAL RIGHTS
62. Do you favor reducing or eliminating the federal role in local public schools?
63. Will you oppose Common Core?
64. Will you oppose nationalization of education by Common Core standards, assessments, tests, and Common Core aligned curriculum?
65. Will you support returning to neighborhood schools in public education?
66. Do you support continuing to make the TOPS scholarship program available to qualified students regardless of family income?
67. Do you support continuing in Louisiana law the Balanced Treatment Act which allows Louisiana school systems to provide balanced treatment of all sides in the origins debate. The Ouachita and Central Community School
Systems currently utilize this law.
68. Will you support the creation of the Southeast Baton Rouge Community School System?
69. Do you support the right of the voters of the proposed City of St. George to vote on whether to incorporate?
EDWARDS: Yes, as long as the requirements of law are met.