07 June 2005

Floor action, Jun. 7: SB 146, HB 123, HB 799


Naturally, SB 146 would arouse passions. With Louisianans ranked as one of the most obese people in the nation, the bill that would force schools to sell through vending healthy foods (they don’t want to forgo the potential revenue of more sugary fare), that’s a given. Debate went for over an hour and over a dozen amendments were offered, most withdrawn. The most controversial was one requiring that in the last 10 minutes of a lunch period a 50/50 ratio of “healthy” drinks and water only could be served. The amendment by Sen. Joel Chiasson was passed 26-10.

Author Sen. Diana Bajoie argued it wasn’t perfect, said it should go further, that Sen. Tom Schedler was on to something with his amendments to require a physical education component to high school but that the way education was structure in the state, that wasn’t possible to mandate. The bill passed 34-3.


When I heard the vote on HB 123 to set up a study to build (yet another) lake, this one in Lincoln Parish, was 34-1 I guessed the nay was Sen. Max Malone, who according to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry has been the taxpayers’ best friend. And I was right; thanks once again, Max, for looking after us to prevent the setting up of a study to tell us you can get drinking water elsewhere and any other use of a man-made lake would be superfluous.


HB 799 has been seen as an expansion of gambling by opponents of it, to allow slot machines to operate past security checkpoints at Louis B. Armstrong Airport in New Orleans (although part of Jefferson Parish). Better, its author Rep. Cedric Richmond admitted that some of the revenues should be siphoned off to help the state support the New Orleans Saints (under the bill then, it got divided among local governing authorities).

Thus Rep. Danny Martiny argued, that New Orleans was still an “NFL town” yet would have to “subsidize” the Saints through a “New Orleans-based revenue stream.” However, Martiny admitted to “Speaker” Charlie DeWitt that federal law might negate the amendment’s affect. Nonetheless, the amendment was adopted.

To make matters even more interesting, Rep. John LaBruzzo tried to attach an amendment that would make it contingent on the New Orleans Police Department having a residency requirement. That amendment failed, to great noise, 3-95.

The bill as a whole passed 56-43. And gambling has a chance to expand in the name of the Saints.

“It’s a joke … including my amendments … you take out vending machines and have classes to instruct them on healthy eating … expecting schools to raise our children … I don’t really know what to tell you what to do with this bill … this bill does nothing, it’s feel-good legislation. Just vote your conscience … this is a joke.”

Schedler, on SB 146.

“Gym was my favorite subject, I made straight As in it.”

Sen. Nick Gautreaux, on his contention that an amendment requiring teaching more physical education should be required as part of the bill.

“Sen. Heitmeier, do you wish to confess your eating and drinking habits …”

Sen. Pres. Don Hines, asking whether Sen. Francis Heitmeier wanted to debate the bill.

“Speaker DeWitt, Speaker DeWitt …”

House Speaker Joe Salter soliciting former Speaker DeWitt’s vote on HB 273, showing us who really continues to hold a lot of power in the Louisiana House.

“Mr. LaBruzzo, you have earned a dubious distinction … you are now the record holder.”

Rep. Peppi Bruneau, on the crushing defeat of LaBruzzo’s amendment to HB 799 – Rep. Mike Walsworth argues he knew of an instance where an amendment on the floor got just one vote, but Bruneau recalled that vote was not a floor vote, but from the Committee of the Whole.

“The singing has not improved ….”

Salter, after the singing of “Happy Birthday” for Rep. Jean Doerge was completed.

WEDNESDAY: HB 631 and HB 828 are scheduled to be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee; HB 560 and HB 654 are scheduled to be heard by the Senate Finance Committee.

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