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New Orleans S&WB project held hostage by abortion politics

Withholding state funds for flood mitigation over something that hasn't even happened was a point of contention.

NEW ORLEANS — Abortion rights and flood mitigation don't seem to have much in common, but here in New Orleans the politics over one is delaying funding approval for another.

Thursday, for the second time, the Louisiana Bond Commission deferred the decision on a $39 million line of credit for a Sewerage & Water Board project over the City's stance on abortion.

Attorney General Jeff Landry is the driving force behind the push to defer, saying he wants to bring the city's leaders "to heel" over statements they won't investigate abortion cases in New Orleans.

"Defer this project until they rescind the resolution," Landry said during the meeting. “This is not just about abortion. This is about the fact that there are elected officials not only in this state, but around this country that seem to thumb their nose at the laws of the country and the states. And they can pick and choose which laws they want to follow and which that they don’t.”

But, here's something that several board members pointed out: No laws have been broken by the City of New Orleans.

Until just a few days ago, the abortion ban was lifted in Louisiana. Currently, there are no abortion clinics operating in the state.

And withholding state funds for flood mitigation over something that hasn't even happened was a point of contention.

"Feel how you feel. Pro-life, pro-choice, it’s up to you," Sen. Jimmy Harris said. "I’m pro-choice and that’s between me and my maker. But this project is a pro-life project. We’re talking about a project that will keep the city from flooding."

"It’s a shame that we’re playing this game with these type of projects that are so important to the people of Louisiana," Commissioner Jay Dardenne said.

The funding would go to fortifying pump power at the West Power Complex.

And this same argument took place at last month’s bond commission meeting as well. This decision doesn’t take funding off the table for the Sewerage & Water Board project.

And even if it’s passed, the legislature would have to consider it at session in the spring.

But as Sen. Harris sees it, 384,000 New Orleanians are caught in the middle of this political standoff between the city and Landry.

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