Feeling Special: Day 2 Down, 15 To Go

— SPOTTED... The top hands of Gov. John Bel Edwards, at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Baton Rouge, just hours after their boss delivered his session-opening speech on Monday. They were joined by a pair of GOP representatives. Was it a signal that the Fourth Floor, having grown weary of the leadership's negotiating style, is carving out its own path to capture conservative votes? Or was it a planning meeting for today's Ways and Means hearing? Or did everyone involved just want a steak?

— Senate President John Alario, to The Bayou Brief's Sue Lincoln: “I’m not sure there will be a long-term resolution like there ought to be. We have to wait on the House.”

— Rep. Ted James: "I have zero confidence in us passing anything of substance."

— Politicos don't call the House Ways and Means Committee the "Ways To Be Mean Committee" for nothing. Members convened this morning to review some of the key tax topics for the special session, but didn't take any important votes. The committee, however, did tip its collective hat. For the most part there was considerable pushback on many of the tax bills discussed today, particularly from conservatives. "I hope we can find some common ground," said Rep. Kenny Havard.

— Among the key tax bills to watch (for now) is HB 23 Rep. Stephen Dwight, which, as introduced, would create a state sales tax structure of 4.5 percent in the new fiscal year. Dwight, though, intends to amend his bill to bring that rate down to 4.25 percent and make it permanent.

— The Ways and Means Committee is expected to meet again tomorrow morning, at which time bills will be brought back up for votes. What actually gets passed depends on who you ask. One longtime lobbyist said the train could get off the tracks very quickly. Another suggested this evening that key committee members already have a plan for sending certain instruments to the floor.

— If Ways To Be Mean does produce votes tomorrow morning, those bills could be heard on the House floor as soon as Friday.

— Chatter is getting louder about lawmakers wrapping this special session up sooner than later, as in before the full 17-day timeline has concluded.

— The House Health and Welfare Committee has moved its hearing on Medicaid work requirements and copay from tomorrow to Thursday. Why? @MelindaDeslatte offered up this Twitter analysis: "Still vote-counting, maybe?"

— Speaker Taylor Barras' constitutional amendment for a state spending cap and his bill to create Louisiana Checkbook both cleared the Appropriations Committee today.

JBE’S SESSION SPEECH, BY THE NUMBERS
(AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY)

— Total word count: 3,318

— Number of times the word “tax” was spoken: 3

— Number of times the word “cliff” was spoken: 13

— Number of times the word “TOPS” was spoken: 7

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CAPITOL GAINS: Does Louisiana need a lieutenant governor?

You’ve really need to watch this interview. From being mistaken for Coach O and fielding attacks from fellow Republicans, to why John