21 April 2014

House floor action, Apr. 21: HB 1262, HB 45, HB 237

HB 1262 by Rep. Barry Ivey would requiring provision information to women considering abortion about the procedure and options to encourage diversion of victims from human trafficking. He told the House that the cost to print the pamphlets would be negligible. Rep. Pat Smith contended even that cost might be too much for the Department of Health and Hospitals. When technical amendments were offered, she then asked whether English would be the only language in which these would be printed; Ivey said DHH could accommodate more languages. After the amendments were adopted without objection, the bill passed 80-10.

HB 45 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh would not permit those who are officers in teacher unions who do not work in the classroom would have retirement contributions from the state suspended into the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana and also others in health care who are employees in the private/nonprofit sector who have the state paying for their retirement, who are hired after a certain date. He said if this occurs through the four state systems, the state is on the hook for payment, even if the employers voluntarily pay for any unfunded accrued liability. Rep. Sam Jones kept asking him whether he knew this voluntary payment always has been made, but Seabaugh kept adding that these were not state employees and that the state should not be put in a position to pay retirement for people who are not employees of the state. Jones asked whether Seabaugh had voted for corporate welfare for sports teams in the state, which he said he didn’t know in which version of last year’s budget these were but he may have. Jones said he was looking for consistency from Seabaugh; Seabaugh said he was providing consistency in the treatment of state vs. non-state employees concerning retirement.

Upon questioning by Rep. Kevin Pearson, Seabaugh noted that any required or voluntary payment down of the UAL by the state also encompassed any UAL portion that would be paid by non-state employees, thus taxpayers paid for non-employees’ retirement of all entities that have a portion of the UAL. Rep. Ed Price asked what happened to union officials that then did not get retirement money, but Seabaugh pointed out they went on sabbatical and did not work for the state during their people. Price claimed as officials they still worked for state employees, but Seabaugh noted they actually worked for a private employer. Price, and then Smith, claimed it was a “witch hunt” against teachers. Rep. Kenny Cox said he wondered whether this would be a union-busting bill; Seabaugh said it included the health care employees which to his knowledge weren’t unionized.

19 April 2014

Legislative regular session through Apr. 19. 2014

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 305 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 961 failed to pass the House; HB 1013 passed the House; HB 1075 passed Senate committee; SB 361 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 553 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 111 passed the House; HB 125 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 127 passed House committee; HB 142 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 237 passed House committee; HB 858 passed the House; HB 1188 was deferred involuntarily; HB 1256 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 424 was withdrawn; SB 554 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 624 passed Senate committee and the House.


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.