Mandie Landry: Democrats Are Afraid of Their Own Shadows As Conservatives Gain Clout

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision that could overturn Roe V. Wade and give state legislatures and their governors the power over abortion law has riled up many pro-choice feminists including District 91 State Rep. Mandie Landry. Last week when Landry heard Louisiana’s five female state senators boast that they were united against abortion, she pulled the trigger on her race to fill the State Senate District 5 seat recently vacated by Karen Carter Peterson. “This fight for a woman’s reproductive rights has been constantly demoralizing. I wanted to give women something to look forward to,” said Landry. 

Prior to the latest Roe v. Wade controversy broke open, Landry was still weighing the state senate race.  Now she’s “full steam ahead” even though the Legislature is in session and fundraising is prohibited until adjournment. “Timing is everything,” Landry explained. Landry has long been a supporter of a woman’s right to choose and other legislation that impacts families and children. She believes that her ongoing advocacy on choice issues, especially now when desperately needed, says a lot to voters.

Elected in 2019, Landry has carved out a niche as liberal Democrat who pushes back against conservative issues. Landry serves on numerous committees including Judiciary, Natural Resources and Environment, Ways and Means, Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay, and the House Select Committee on Women and Children. She is especially proud of her success on women’s issues, maternal health, voting rights and LGBT rights. Landry has also supported gun control bills but has yet to declare victory in that area. Many of Louisiana’s conservative lawmakers have never come up against a fellow legislator with Landry’s dogged determination. “I am moving the needle slowly, educating legislators along the way. For many of the issues I support, this is their first exposure to these subject areas, “ Landry explained. 

As a Democrat in an extremely Republican-controlled legislature, Landry often has a hard time getting anything done. “We just don’t have the numbers. A lot of Democrats are afraid of their own shadow. They are afraid of the Family Forum and the gun control lobby. Moderate Republicans have to stand up to their own party,” Landry said. It’s different when a dissenting voice is from a Republican elected official.

Landry has been working with Governor John Bel Edwards on HB 160, relative to the abandonment of rental premises following the declaration of a federally declared disaster. The legislation would create a 30-day window for renters to return from the disaster before they could be evicted. Landry thinks many landlords prefer to declare the affected units “uninhabitable” and evict the tenants in order to collect from their insurance companies. The bill has passed the House and is pending in Senate Judiciary A. Though the landlord lobby in Baton Rouge is strong, Landry has worked across the aisle to attract Republican co-sponsors for this legislation because this problem exists around the state. 

Landry also introduced HB 64 which in cases of certain sexual offenses, the victim is protected and defined as a “child” if he or she is under 18 years of age and is not emancipated by marriage. Previous law used 17 years of age as the cutoff.  Landry is also the author of HB 199 which would provide term limits for sheriffs via a statewide constitutional amendment. If passed, it prohibits a sheriff who has served more than two and one-half terms in three consecutive terms from being elected as sheriff for the succeeding term. It is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. Landry also filed HB 288 which would limit the terms of tax assessors upon passage of a statewide constitutional amendment. It was originally heard by the Committee on Ways and Means where it was reported favorably (7-6) and recommitted to the Committee on Civil Law and Procedure where it is pending. Landry’s HB 352 would require the state to provide prepaid postage on absentee ballots.  

Landry’s HB 258, which is being closely followed by V.O.T.E., would increase the number of individuals eligible for jury duty by now including persons not under indictment, incarcerated under an order of indictment, or on probation or parole for a felony offense after a conviction rendered by a verdict from a non-unanimous jury.  

Another important bill Landry is carrying this session is HB 1052 which establishes the Hazard Mitigation Revolving Loan Fund that will be administered by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). The legislation will provide financial assistance to local government hazard mitigation projects. “This legislation is extremely timely and necessary and will create zero interest loans,” Landry explained. This popular bill is headed to the State Senate after passing the House 97-0.   

New Orleans’ only abortion provider and an IVF clinic are both located in Landry’s district. She believes that many male legislators need a lot of education on IVF issues. She was pleased that DA Jason Williams vowed not to prosecute women who end the life of a fetus but that Attorney General Jeff Landry “can jump in and take over those cases” and that the proposed legislation was directed at places like Orleans Parish. If legal abortions are outlawed Landry predicts a greater reliance on abortion pills which can be currently ordered online. She is also disappointed about how proposed anti-abortion legislation will impact poor white, black and brown women who have limited financial resources and less access to health care and transportation to obtain a legal abortion in another state. More than half of the women who get abortions already have at least one child, Landry explained. She fears that new legislation will cause more women to die needlessly from self or illegal abortions and childbirth complications. In addition, thousands more unplanned pregnancies will place a heavier burden on the government and women to support these children. “You have to have everything perfectly set up to raise a child alone,” she said.   

Landry is also concerned that the Democrats nationally have what it takes to hold their own in the November 2022 midterm elections. “Up until a week ago, I thought we would get clobbered. It’s sad that something so horrible as the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade could motivate voters. Now I am cautiously optimistic that the Democrats will succeed,” she said. 

The demographics of State Senate District 5 has changed since the current boundaries were drawn ten years ago. While the district then was predominately Black, the number of non-Black voters has increased. Under the reapportionment process that took place earlier in 2022, the boundaries of District 5 will shift to take in Black precincts on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. Landry grew up in Marrero and will be a familiar name to many Westbank voters. The election to fill Carter Peterson’s unexpired term will be held on November 8, 2022 at the same time as the Congressional mid-term elections and will be based on the district’s current boundaries. If Landry wins that race, she will run again in 2023 based on the new district boundaries. Qualifying for candidates who wish to fill Carter Peterson’s unexpired term takes place July 20-22, 2022.

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