16 June 2006

Floor action, Jun. 16: SB 723, SB 382, SB 753

The handling SB 723 broke into a spat among local legislators. Rep. Billy Montgomery was handling this bill, which altered the terms and composition of members of the Caddo/Bossier Port Authority. But Rep. Ernest Baylor complained that Montgomery, who was handling the bill for Sen. Max Malone, was cutting out Rep. Cedric Glover, who was absent but on his way to the Capitol (it already had been delayed because of Glover’s absence for personal reasons). Montgomery was concerned that if the bill got sent back to the calendar it might not get brought up again, but consented to Baylor’s request.

Apparently, it took Glover more time than the 15-20 minutes Baylor said. A couple of hours later, the bill was brought up but again returned to the calendar. A half-hour later it was brought back, and then yanked yet again.

It finally came up in the afternoon. Montgomery got an amendment by consent to change the designees of the cities involved (Shreveport and Bossier City) done by the governing authority (city councils) rather than mayors (its original form). It passed without objection.

Glover wished to amend the bill to make representation on the body proportional rather than geographically-based, calling the bill in that form a form of “geographic affirmative action;” the governing authority would make selections without any geographic criteria. He claimed it was a unifying amendment. It passed 61-21.

Even though Glover won on this, he said he still wouldn’t vote for the bill. He said Shreveport dominated the economy, and thus needs to maintain the increased proportion of membership under present law. Montgomery disagreed, saying Shreveport should not have an automatic majority on the port commission, that it should have meaningful input. He said it was a better bill amended, and should be passed. It did, 54-44.

SB 382 would eliminate essentially gifts to legislators of a sporting and cultural nature. Rep. William Daniel IV stated this, but admitted with a restrictive amendment concerning sports events from the Senate that he didn’t quite know what it did, in terms of pricing some offers, and said he had an amendment to strip the other to simplify matters. Daniel said the bill was really intended to ban free tickets and stripping the amendment would produce clarity.

Rep. Troy Hebert was asked why the bill was needed. Daniel said he didn’t think free tickets influenced anybody, but that author Sen. Jay Dardenne thought the appearance of impropriety was causing image problems for the Legislature. Hebert said appearances were deceiving so there was no need for the bill. Daniel said perhaps the public resented legislators getting free tickets. Hebert said sometimes legislators gave these away to the public.

Daniel said basically the bill said anything the public had to pay for, legislators had to pay for, even if an offer of a gift was made. Rep. Avon Honey wondered whether press passes counted; Daniel said no.

Daniel’s amendment would allow universities to offer these kinds of tickets. Rep. Charlie Lancaster pointed out that universities could lobby under this amendment, but not private sector interests. Rep. Charlie DeWitt called the bill a smokescreen that would do nothing, there was lots of pressing business, and asked for bill postponement. Daniel said he had to object. The motion to postpone passed 51-41.

SB 753 by the father of handler Rep. Don Cravins would authorize the state attorney general or local district attorney to issue a cease and desist order after discovering an employer has hired undocumented aliens. This would create procedure to enforce existing federal law. In fact, Cravins had an amendment to take out filing an affidavit by businesses that they had not knowingly hired illegal aliens, to prevent the possibility of federal mail fraud charges being filed, which passed without objection.

As he had in committee, Rep. Steve Scalise proposed an amendment to place sanctions against the illegal workers themselves. Rep. Monica Walker said it shifted the burden of the legislation to the workers rather than employers, changing the intent of the bill, which Scalise disputed. He said laws already covered potential reporting of businesses. Rep. Eric LaFleur suggested leaving in the employer sanction, as did Rep. Kay Katz, who subsequently asked Cravins to temporarily defer the bill to put in an amendment like Scalise’s without removing employer sanctions. But Cravins refused, saying federal safeguards were enough on the illegal employee issue.

Scalise noted the bill as it stood would allow for harassment of some businesses by other businesses or government, and said his amendment would deal with the root of the problem. The amendment failed 28-59. The bill then passed 91-5. (Cravins noted after his father’s bill passed that his father had killed one of his last year at this time, but he did not retaliate this year. Speaker Joe Salter said “you acted wisely.”)

Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock got permission for an absence, and an hour later delivered a son. Somebody unannounced won the betting pool for his delivery time and weight.

I’m a little confused.
Join the club.
Is a ticket to cockfighting a sporting or cultural event?
I think that would be a gaming event.
An exchange between Daniel and Rep. Don Trahan concerning SB 382.

I wanted to vote no.
Daniel, when a motion to grant him more time to answer SB 382 questions, because of an objection, passed.

I never felt the urge to have a cigarette until now.
Daniel, as the relentless questioning and criticism about SB 382 continued.

I’ve never seen so many bad bills in one day without my name on them.
Rep. Jack Smith.

That’s why they call it “acting.”
Rep. Jim Tucker, when turning over his acting speaker role back to Salter; earlier, a member had told him “you’re mother is watching [the Internet feed] and says you need to straighten your tie.”

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