30 April 2007

Floor action, Apr. 30: State of the State address

Gov. Kathleen Blanco gave her State of the Sate address. For commentary, see here.

(Note: to remind of the convention used, if more than one similar bill is on an agenda, only the bill primarily identified as “Good” or “Bad” will be listed)

TUESDAY: HB 43 and HB 53, are scheduled to be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee; SB 48 and SB 127 are scheduled to be heard by the Senate Retirement Committee.

WEDNESDAY: HB 248, HB 575, and HB 619 are scheduled to be heard by the House and Governmental Affairs Committee; HB 25 is scheduled to be heard by the House Health and Welfare Committee. SB 195 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Insurance Committee; SB 320 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee.

20 April 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- Prefiled bills though April

Well, practically since pre-filing is over tonight Apr. 20 (good: only as many 720 new future bills to go), so let’s see what has been sprung on the Legislature for the regular session:

THE GOOD: HB 154 by Rep. Hollis Downs would redirect sales tax money coming from activities related to transportation actually to be used for transportation capital improvements (similar bills: HB 648, HB 661, SB 258, SB 260). HB 171 by Rep. Kay Katz would eliminate corporate franchise taxes which would spur economic development (similar bills: HB 663, HB 768). HB 228 by Rep. Steve Scalise would create a more accurate way of measuring the maximum expenditure amount permitted to the state without extraordinary procedures. HB 248 by Rep. Glenn Ansardi would reduce voting hours by two to make elections more workable (similar bill: HB 768). HB 266 by Rep. Blade Morrish would create stronger oversight of recipients of appropriations that do not come through the executive budget. HB 279 by Rep. Gary Beard would create tax policy that provides disincentives for divorce. HB 436 by Rep. Danny Martiny will bring increased rationality to the organization and funding of indigent defense in Louisiana. HB 444 by Rep. Tim Burns will provide incentives for individual rather than state responsibility for health insurance. HB 474 by Rep. Charlie Lancaster strengthens ballot and private security regarding elections. HB 486 by Rep. Jim Fannin would reduce costs to homeowners regarding compliance with the states building code in areas that do not require meeting some of its standards. HB 576 by Rep. Jim Tucker would rid the state of its intervention into markets by forcing retail sale of ethanol and bio-fuels. HB 598 by Rep. Mike Powell would provide for more accurate testing of school accountability by ensuring standardized tests are given near the end of the school year. HB 614 by Beard prohibits partial-birth abortion, complementing federal law (similar bill: SB 161). HB 623 by Scalise would enhance educational quality by setting up a school voucher program (similar bill: HB 731). HB 733 by Rep. Joel Robideaux would tighten disclosure requirements for lobbyists (similar bill: SB 163). HB 804 by Scalise would establish a child tax credit used only in the case where taxes actually must be paid. HB 836 by Burns would encourage investment by making that income tax free.

SB 48 by Sen. Walter Boasso would establish a means to force the state to begin to pay down its largest unfunded accrued liabilities in its pension funds. SB 51 by Sen. Julie Quinn would limit governing authorities from unilaterally increasing tax millages that become possible through reassessment beyond the rate of inflation without voter approval (similar bills: HB 306, HB 530). SB 52 by Sen. Mike Michot would redirect sales taxes related to transportation to transportation projects. SB 98 by Sen. Tom Schedler would facilitate a shift away from institutional to community-based long-term care saving the state money. SB 126 by Sen. Max Malone would amend the Constitution to close a loophole which allows state pardons to be used for federal felonies in determining eligibility to run for elective office (similar bill: SB 145). SB 127 by Boasso would amend the Constitution to put retirement systems on more stable financial footing. SB 174 by Sen. Robert Adley would create a more comprehensible capital budgeting outlay process. SB 185 by Quinn would lower insurance rates by abolishing the Louisiana Insurance Rating Commission (similar bills: HB 561 HB 724 HB 860). SB 195 by Sen. James David Cain would privatize the state-owned insurer.

(Similar bills to HB 23: HB 207, HB 289, HB 291, HB 363, HB 364, HB 365, HB 418, HB 419, HB 445, HB 448, HB 533, HB 550, HB 581, SB 64, SB 66, SB 81. Similar bills to HB 48: HB 421, HB 449, HB 700. Similar bills to HB 53: HB 529, HB 608, HB 667. Similar bills to HB 86: HB 130, HB 268, HB 357, HB 508, HB 714, Similar bills to HB 138: HB 597, SB 157. Similar bill to HB 228: HB 492. Similar bill to SB 28: SB 43.)

THE BAD: HB 214 by Rep. Rick Farrar would encourage the state of Louisiana to dive deeper into the insurance business and discourage competition (similar bills: HB 528, HB 782, HB 825). HB 273 by Rep. Eric LaFleur would make it easier for candidates to report sources of campaign contributions if they largely self-fund their candidacies. HB 362 by Rep. Taylor Townsend would amend the Constitution to make it more difficult for state government to cut taxes. HB 407 by Rep. Karen Carter would allow continuing the stealth fee for litter removal on drivers’ licenses. HB 461 by Rep. Rick Gallot would reduce school safety and infringe on Second Amendment rights. HB 480 by Rep. Damon Baldone would make the state income tax even more progressive and reduce state revenues by exempting the lowest-level current filers. HB 518 by Rep. William Daniel IV would facilitate wasteful use of long-term care monies by repealing early the moratorium on nursing home bed space provision even as too many remain in circulation. HB 575 by Rep. Juan LaFonta would dramatically increase costs of state elections by soliciting absentee/early ballots rather than relying on registered voters to request them. HB 619 by Jalila Jefferson-Bullock would continue unnecessary loosening of ballot security laws at state expense. HB 731 by Farrar would give a regular schedule of salary raises to elected judges regardless of the actual change in cost of living. HB 822 by Cedric Richmond would prematurely return schools from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School District. SB 203 by Sen. Ben Nevers would get the state more deeply involved in insurance by creating a catastrophic fund (similar bill: SB 276). SB 295 by Sen. Derrick Shepherd would pay Senators and legislative assistants full-time salaries for jobs defined in the state Constitution as part-time. SB 309 by Sen. Joel Chaisson would amend then Constitution to allow the state to take on more debt. SB 320 by Sen. Charles Jones would create lax standards allowing for election-day voting and registering that invite fraud (similar bill: SB 225).

THE UGLY: HB 287 by Rep. Billy Montgomery would create a tax break for certain barge line, towing, and other water transportation companies; what justifies this? His HB 591 carves out an exception to general firefighter civil service laws that makes some promotions in Bossier City noncompetitive, and others determined only by an initial evaluative period of just two years; again, why?