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Governor-elect Jeff Landry speaks during a press conference Wednesday, October 25, 2023, at Russo Park, the UL-Lafayette baseball stadium, in Lafayette, La.

Gov.-elect Jeff Landry shows every sign of wanting to get off to a fast start when he takes office on Jan. 8. He has instructed his transition co-chairs and subject-matter committees to recommend specific policies that he can implement either by executive order or via legislation.

That’s a smart move, and not uncommon for new governors.

Some have expressed fears that Landry is planning some sort of “takeover” of New Orleans. He put no city officials on the New Orleans transition committee, and other states’ GOP governors and legislatures have trimmed the powers of local officials in Black-majority cities.

It’s too early to say what any of Landry’s transition committees will recommend, but Louisiana’s constitution and statutes, along with prevailing jurisprudence, bar our governors from single-handedly “taking over” any city or parish, or usurping their authority.

That doesn’t mean Landry can’t have a big impact. He most certainly can — within limits. As with all matters of governance, the new governor also will have to weigh significant political factors when he issues executive orders or proposes new legislation.

Landry focused on the issue of crime during his campaign, and he wants to call a special legislative session soon after taking office to deal with that issue — particularly, crime in New Orleans.

That plan might have to wait, however, because the new governor also may have to meet a tight judicial deadline for calling lawmakers into a special session to create a second majority-Black congressional district, per federal court orders. Even before taking office, it appears, Landry is getting schooled about best-laid plans.

Meanwhile, his plans for crime-weary New Orleans will have to honor the city’s home rule charter. Louisiana’s constitution expressly protects local governments with home rule charters that predate the 1974 constitution from executive as well as legislative intrusion. New Orleans is one of several large parishes covered by the provision.

Moreover, if Landry wants to tinker with the city’s police force, he’ll have to get permission from U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who presides over a decade-old federal consent decree that governs NOPD’s policies.

So what CAN Landry do?

For starters, he could send State Police to patrol New Orleans’ stretch of Interstate 10, which has seen a spate of fatal shootings. I can’t imagine anyone griping about that — except sheriffs in other parishes who will have to pick up the slack created by reassigning troopers in their areas.

He could also ask lawmakers to authorize him to send in state law enforcement to supplement NOPD patrols in the French Quarter — or to create a special state-run security district in the Quarter — which also has seen a spike in petty as well as violent crime.

Big steps like those will likely require legislation, because state law and court decisions limit what governors can do via executive orders.

Ironically, Landry’s own success in a lawsuit against one of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ early executive orders led to a court opinion stating that such orders cannot go “beyond a mere policy statement or a directive to fulfill [existing] law.”

Still, governors wield enormous influence over legislation, particularly the state budget. Thanks to a Republican supermajority in both legislative chambers, Landry will have a strong hand when dealing with local officials whose budgets depend heavily on the state for operating and capital improvement funds.

It will be interesting — and hopefully reassuring — to see how Landry tries to fulfill his campaign promises on crime and other challenges facing Louisiana.

Clancy DuBos is Gambit's political editor. You can reach him at clancy@gambitweekly.com.

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