Louisiana State Representative, Ted James replied to State Representative Kenny Havard’s call to cut funds for the New Orleans Saints yesterday.
On Monday, Havard stated that he wants “to cut millions in state tax dollars, exemptions and credits allocated to the New Orleans Saints, the NFL and any of those groups’ associated facilities that receive funding”. His announcement comes after players protested during the national anthem at last Sunday’s game.
Havard says the protests were “a disgrace to the men and women of this nation and state who have sacrificed so much.”
While I support boycotting the NFL, I more so like the idea of the movement and the unity, but I cannot ignore the possible effect of such an event economically, especially being based in Louisiana and surrounded by Saints fans. So we reached out James to better understand Havard’s comment and how we as state could be impacted by such.
James explained that states often give businesses incentives to locate within the state. “When the Saints were contemplating moving, the state entered into an agreement with the Saints to- for example, to renovate the dome, make certain changes, rental payments to the properties that the Saints own. Bonuses, like the Super Bowl, came to New Orleans. So the state will incentivize those things to come here, “James shared.
While these incentives may cost the state money, usually in these situations, the state comes out on top. These ventures boost the tourism and hospitality and advertising industries, hence providing revenue and jobs.
“If we are going to have these conversations, let’s have them because it makes financial sense. Let’s not do it to penalize people for protesting. This idea that it is disrespectful to the flag and those in the military-I mean those people fought and died, those who did die, for us to have the option to stand or kneel, and that should be the beauty of America- that people can freely voice their opinion in a manner that they so choose,” James said.
This appears to also be the big debate online. Many argue that protests are about the flag or to disrespect the flag or the veterans who have fought for this country, when in reality; it is not about that at all. Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee to bring awareness to social injustices.
Yet as James pointed out, many of the demonstrations Sunday were not to support Kaepernick. “Colin Kaepernick started this to protest the injustices that are taking place. It’s very real to me, because it happened right here in Baton Rouge, you know with Alton Sterling. We protested, and we got bills passed because of it. I think that what happened this past weekend was largely in response to President Trump,” James said. He went on to say, “That was a response more in part to Trump’s comment than it was to Colin Kaepernick, because the first two weeks of the NFL season, you didn’t see these large numbers, but when you have the president label Black men as sons of b’s… That response was more so like, ‘this is to you 45. You are not going to disrespect us, and we are going to take a knee and protest not just for the injustices going against Black men, but we are going to protest you and your comment.’”
Yesterday, The Advocate ran a piece with a post from James’s instagram where James stated that he wished the house was in session so he could weigh in on Havard’s comments, so we wanted to know when the next session would be. James explained that the next session will not be until March 2018, but Havard said he wants to take the bill to the joint legislature committee, which meets monthly and could possibly make adjustments to the budget sooner than that should they decide to move forward.
“Now one of those things- it’s just a bunch of bs, because he’s said that the players were being political, and if you are going to get state dollars, you can’t be political, but three years ago the Saints came to the Capitol to lobby up against a bill. There was a bill that was filed that would have impacted injured players and their workers comp, and he didn’t have problem with them being political then,” James said referring to an incident in 2014. “In fact, he was standing in line trying to take pictures with them, so what I don’t want people to do is get it confused. This has absolutely nothing to do with tax credits; it has absolutely nothing to do with being political, this is to tell Black men to stay in line. Like that is what it is, and he is trying to disguise it in this conversation of tax credits.
Well we will see how things play out. In May of this year, James’s bill, House Bill 277, was passed. The bill expanded police training to include “bias recognition, sudden in-custody death and crisis intervention training, as well as interaction with mentally ill or developmentally disabled persons.”