24 March 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Prefiled House bills -- Week of Mar. 18, 2006

And now continuing from last week, turning to the House bills prefiled by Mar. 18:

THE GOOD: HB 253 by Rep. A.G. Crowe would make it more difficult for government entities to circumvent open meetings laws. HB 301 by Rep. Tim Burns would create a voucher program enactable by districts in certain circumstances. HB 331 by Rep. Mickey Frith would limit the number of days on which a local government could schedule an election, saving money. HB 361 by Rep. Charlie Lancaster extends existing campaign finance law to special elections to the Legislature. HB 416 by Rep. Karen Carter would make the insurance commissioner’s job appointive. HB 428 by Rep. Jim Tucker would establish term limits, three consecutive, on all elected executives except for the governor which would remain at two. HB 429 by Rep. Hollis Downs would make the secretary of state’s job appointive (similar bill: HB 786). HB 481 by Lancaster would enable people with degrees and certification in certain professions to be issued regular teaching licenses without having to go through the usually-unnecessary teacher certification process. HB 562 by Rep. Mike Powell would give the electorate the chance to ratify any salary increase of legislators for it to go into effect. HB 568 represents Rep. Mert Smiley’s continuing efforts to clean up never- or seldom-used state entities with their abolishment (similar bill: HB 791). HB 604 represents another effort by Powell to get rid of the useless January election date. HB 850 by Rep. Gary Beard would strengthen ethics laws regarding disaster-related contracts. HB 909 by Rep. Peppi Bruneau would decrease voter registration fraud opportunities. HB 987 by Rep. Ernie Alexander would create incentives for all eligible citizens to get a high school diploma by refusing them all government social service benefits but medical care without one, phased in over time. HB 990 by Rep. John LaBruzzo would make legislators related to a tax assessor ineligible to vote on legislation regarding assessors. HB 1118 by Rep. Bobby Faucheux essentially lowers the state sales tax by one percent on tangible personal property at retail.

THE BAD: HB 194 by Rep. Willie Hunter would artificially raise the minimum wage and kill off jobs (similar bills: HB 283). HB 385 by Rep. Cheryl Gray would allow government to interfere in the residential rental market after a disaster. HB 489 by Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock would scale back the residency requirement for voting registration from 30 to seven days and strip out anti-fraud measures. HB 644 by Rep. John Alario increases the homestead exemption to $150,000, further undermining local government finance. HB 668 by Rep. Arthur Morrell would loosen ethics requirements for legislators in accepting campaign contributions. HB 741 by Cedric Richmond would make it possible for Orleans Parish to require local hiring for government contracts, creating patronage opportunities ripe for abuse. HB 818 by Jefferson-Bullock would render meaningless the entire concept of “residency” for registration purposes. HB 821 by Richmond would increase crime by removing capital punishment as a sentencing option. Rep. Juan LaFonta tries to resurrect adding unnecessary, duplicative legal protections in state government actions with his HB 853. HB 1088 by Rep. Charmaine Marchand would have state taxpayers subsidize candidates for office and violate individuals’ privacy by having the secretary of state release known addresses of displaced persons.

THE UGLY: HB 213 by Rep. Rick Gallot allows Grambling State University to sell some land in Florida to a certain individual; why does the Legislature have to get involved with this? Do we really need yet another licensed occupation in the state – HB 259 by Speaker Joe Salter creates it for “automotive glass repair technicians?” HB 501 by Rep. Gil Pinac reduces qualifications and adds fees to get certified as … an “interior designer” (no joke). HB 547 by Rep. Troy Hebert would prohibits the governor, governor-elect, and candidates in the general election for governor from taking action to influence the selection of legislative officers and legislative committee officers – it’s not a bad idea, but entirely unenforceable. And, do we have to have a state song just for hurricane recovery with HB 796 by Rep. Danny Martiny? And must we bring into state law quibbles over the definition of “Cajun,” as in HB 1102 and HB 1117 by Rep. Karen St. Germain?

Prefiled bills in the House that are essentially similar to others already filed: HB 136 (HB 172, HB 760), HB 116 (HB 201, HB 334, HB 514, HB 642, HB 656, HB 701, HB 724, HB 752, HB 874), HB 28 (HB 239, HB 330, HB 640, HB 992), HB 132 (HB 243, HB 582), HB 59 (HB 427), SB 175 (HB 462), SB 167 (HB 490), SB 18 (HB 505), SB 437 (HB 641), SB 526 (HB 709, HB 726), HB 44 (HB 815), SB 513 (HB 1028), HB 161 (HB 986) SB 544 (HB 1032). In reporting the scorecard below, all related bills will count as just one.

Total House introductions: 1123; total Senate introductions: 632.

Total House good bills: 28; total Senate good bills: 12.

Total House bad bills: 13; total Senate bad bills: 16.

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