State blocks New Orleans flood funds over abortion

Patrick Hamilton, Design Chief

Louisiana’s Attorney General and Loyola alumnus Jeff Landry has pressured the State Bond Commission to withhold $39 million dollars in infrastructure funding for the second month in a row.

The State Bond Commission – of which Landry is a member – is tasked with approving financing for projects across the State. This withholding is a response to the city leader’s declaration last July that they would not be enforcing Louisiana’s abortion ban.

The $39 million dollars was allocated for a number of infrastructure projects around the city, including the Sewerage and Water Board’s Power Plant Planning and Construction project. Currently, the Sewerage and Water board is using outdated equipment to power the city’s drinking water, sewage and drainage turbines.

The project would help create a more dependable system that would not be as easily overwhelmed by future hurricanes and other natural disasters. Last May, during President Biden’s trip to New Orleans, Sewerage and Water Board Executive Director Ghassan Korban warned that “the whole system could fail” if they did not update the infrastructure immediately.

Last June, Louisiana signed into law one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans, making no exceptions for rape or incest. The ban took effect after the Supreme Court overturned the court case Roe V Wade, a landmark ruling that protected abortion as a constitutional right.
New Orleans City Council members passed a resolution condemning the legislation. The resolution reiterates the council’s support for abortion access and requests that city funds not be used to enforce the states abortion ban.

Landry had pressured the State Bond Commission to withhold funding from New Orleans when they convened for their monthly meeting in July and again later in August. The commission is set to vote on the $39 million dollar project again when they meet on September 15th.

In a public statement issued last month, Landry justified his position claiming “the officials in New Orleans took an oath of office to support and enforce the laws of our state, yet they have decided that some laws are not worthy of enforcement.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that she was not surprised by Landry’s “hostility towards reproductive freedom.” Cantrell said she found it troubling “that the Attorney General would place critical infrastructure and state assets in harm’s way just to score political points for his run for governor.”

Fraser Wright, a junior majoring in music industries has expressed his concern with the delays as he spends his first semester off campus. Wright said that “delaying updates to the city’s already embarrassing excuse for sewage and water infrastructure, while every other corner of nearby neighborhood intersections are literally sinking into the ground, is alone worth ample concern to commuting students’ health and safety.” Wright also said that “justifying these delays through the enforcement of unethical views on women’s rights only magnifies the pathetic nature of Landry’s actions.”

Landry has refused to back off from his position, telling the bond commission that “any other funding that will directly benefit the City of New Orleans should also be paused until such time as the council, mayor, chief of police, sheriff, and district attorney have met with and affirmed that they will comply with and enforce the laws of this state and cooperate with any state officials who may be called upon to enforce them.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Cantrell and other city leaders have responded that they will not reconsider their opposition to the state’s abortion ban.