12 April 2014

Leigslative regular session through Apr. 12, 2014

Occasionally, the legislative process will change a bill in such a way that it no longer is good or bad. This happened recently with HB 601, which therefore is removed from the list of bad bills. The process even can take a bill from one status to another, typically in the form of a substitute because the changes can be extensive, as happened to HB 626 when it became HB 1261. Clarifying covered entities made the difference.

THE GOOD: HB 1262 by Rep. Barry Ivey, another substitute bill, would provide information to women that both discourages abortion and encourages beneficial lifestyle changes.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 74 was deferred involuntarily by House committee; HB 225 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 305 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 801 with minor amendment failed to pass the House; HB 1013 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 1075 passed the House; HB 1076 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 1261 passed House committee; SB 553 with minor amendment passed Senate committee.

09 April 2014

Committee action, Apr. 9: HB 727, HB 305

HB 727 by Rep. Barry Ivey would require resource provision for women contemplating abortion. He told the Health and Welfare Committee the current law did not provide adequate mental health counseling. Then Rep. Regina Barrow offered a substitute bill, which expanded on the original. Basically, it creates pamphlets that must be distributed 24 hours prior to the contemplated procedure, emphasizing mental health, coercive, and human trafficking aspects. Witnesses said it was important because information helps some women understand that abortion often is a symptom of much larger life crises for which they can receive assistance in addressing.

Opponents, who ran abortion clinics or financing mechanisms, said they didn’t talk anybody into abortions. They said they give counseling information already (although the list read off titled to pro-abortion sources). They claimed many of the things in the bill they already did, so it was unnecessary. They said it was lack of support services that encouraged abortion, not lack of information. Also, they said they provided this information at their cost, not the state’s.

Chairman Scott Simon asked what the purpose of the information they gave was, the answer being it was to help women make a decision. Simon said this differed from the purpose of the bill, which was to give women who did not have full information the kind of information to discourage abortion. He also noted even if there was a cost to the state in preparing these brochures, even prevention of one abortion made that worthwhile.

05 April 2014

Legislative regular session through Apr. 5, 2014

Prefiling of bills ended earlier this week, with the usual rush.

THE GOOD: HB 1079 by Rep. Tim Burns would require more extensive annotation of campaign finance reports; HB 1102 by Rep. Simone Champagne would close a loophole that serves to advertise candidacies through public funds; HB 1153 by Rep. Joe Harrison would move the Taylor Opportunity for Scholars Program towards becoming a true scholarship program; HB 1176 by Rep. Chris Broadwater would prevent use of cash welfare benefits to be used for certain unproductive purposes; HB 1177 by Rep. Steve Carter would improve governance of larger school districts (similar bill: SB 636); HB 1199 by Rep. John Schroder would increase families’ abilities to review school materials taught; HB 1225 by Rep. Joel Robideaux would balance better paying off retirement liabilities and giving increase to retirees; HB 1233 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh would encourage certain municipalities to enforce traffic laws on the basis of safety first; SB 652 by Sen. Elbert Guillory would improve classroom discipline

THE BAD: HB 1084 by Rep. Jared Brossett would impose additional unneeded environmental regulation; HB 1097 by Rep. Barbara Norton would allow Shreveport to charge more sales tax than the Constitution permits and permanently; HB 1132 by Rep. Neil Abramson would place too much restriction defined imprecisely on use of state sales tax revenues (similar bill: HB 1229); HB 1165 by Rep. Katrina Jackson would produce a chilling effect of combating government corruption; HB 1168 by Norton would weaken ethics standards needlessly; HB 1172 by Rep. Wesley Bishop would weaken needlessly teacher accountability standards; HB 1183 by Rep. Sam Jones would inexpertly micromanage financial affairs of the state’s technical and community colleges; HB 1188 by Rep. Herbert Dixon would cost jobs and raise costs to taxpayers (similar bills: HB 1221, SB 646); HB 1189 by Norton would increase homeowners vulnerability to violent crime; HB 1212 by Rep. Ted James would allow nonresidents of areas wishing to incorporate to vote on that decision; SB 613 by Sen. Gary Smith would make the state subsidize health insurance premiums for some non-employees; HB 621 by Sen. Jody Amedee would put unnecessary constraints on state fiscal practices; SB 624 by Sen. Bob Kostelka would allow West Monroe among other cities to charge more sales tax than the Constitution permits and permanently; SB 666 by Sen. Page Cortez makes charter schools unfairly pay for past funding mistakes of public schools; SB 674 by Sen. Ben Nevers would prevent capriciously the exercise of self-government; SB 679 by Nevers would restrict unduly the marketplace for small lending.

02 April 2014

Committee action, Apr. 2: HB 373, HB 112, HB 686

HB 373 by Rep. Steve Carter would shorten “general” session lengths and limit the number of bills to be offered in them. He told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that in these general sessions have a lot of bills filed, whereas less than half pass, while during the “fiscal” sessions fewer are filed but higher proportions pass. He said other states filed fewer and passed higher proportions. He argued that fewer bills translated into higher quality bills that concentrated efforts.

Rep. Dee Richard was invited to give his input for HB 112, which addresses the fiscal sessions shortening it and would have only tax measures permitted. He said Carter’s reasoning worked for his.

Rep. Mike Danahay asked whether these limits counted for local matters. Carter said the limit of 10 proposed did not include local bills, which would be unlimited. Despite that, Danahay said he was uncomfortable with a limit. Carter said there also would be cost savings in addition to time savings. Rep. John Schroder wondered about the impact on budget matters, but Carter said they managed to get one out during the fiscal sessions, and staff didn’t think it would matter. Richard said budgeting would not be affected. Schroder said it would be better to keep the starting date the same and end earlier rather than start later and end at the same time.

29 March 2014

Legislative regular session through Mar. 29, 2014

There still a week or so left for filing bills, and they continue to trickle in.

THE GOOD: HB 1059 by Rep. Kirk Talbot would prevent government for working as dues collectors for unions in local transit agencies; HB 1075 by Rep. Patrick Connick would close a loophole to discourage the most common form of littering; HB 1076 by Rep. John Schroder was adopted as a substitute for HB 946 that would make educational data collected by the state more secure.

THE BAD: HB 1049 by Rep. James Armes would have state employee ratepayers and taxpayers pay for surgery to correct morbid obesity from non-medical causes.

THE UGLY: SB 569 by Sen. Blade Morrish would create a special carve-out for a particular nursing home to be exempt from the state’s additional bed moratorium.