29 March 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- Prefiled bills through Mar. 29, 2008

Finally, after two appetizers, it’s on to the real business at hand, the 2008 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature. With 60 new legislators eager to make their marks, lots of bills have been teed up in pre-filing. Here are the best, worst, and ugliest of the bunch:

THE GOOD: HB 24 by Rep. Brett Geymann would make it illegal to harbor an illegal alien; HB 34 by Rep. Kay Katz would shorten by two hours polls being open to attract more election workers and save the state money (similar bills: SB 64, SB 219, SB 221); HB 55 by Rep. Cameron Henry would prevent the use of counter letters as a way to avoid ethics restrictions; HB 128 by Rep. Rickey Hardy would mandate higher scholastic standards for student-athletes; HB 169 by Rep. Jeff Arnold would restrict property tax increases to a price index (similar bill: HB 436); HB 199 by Rep. Ernest Wooton would allow handguns on university campuses and increase deterrence; HB 259 by Rep. Karen St. Germain would throw in an extra $200 million to defray unfunded accrued liability costs and save the state money in the future; HB 321 by Rep. Don Trahan would delete the maximum number of charter schools allowed to permit wider use of the this tool of educational improvement; HB 350 by Rep. Walt Leger would allow the (New Orleans) Recovery School District the option of contracting with for-profit schools for better education provision; HB 432 by Rep. Walker Hines would restrict free food and drink to lobbied legislators to $50 per day; HB 506 by Rep. Eric Ponti would rein in the more repressive aspects of the state’s price gouging law during emergencies; HB 582 by Speaker Jim Tucker would revise the capital outlay process to make it more accurate (similar bills: HB 850, SB 1, SB 527); HB 587 by Rep. Noble Ellington would strengthen commitment of transportation-related revenues to transportation infrastructure costs; HB 622 by Tucker would ensure the Louisiana Recovery Authority would not continue past its need; HB 734 by Trahan would put authority to make tuition and fee changes in the hands of those that know best institutional needs, the governing boards (similar bills: HB 755, HB 756); HB 790 by Rep. Franklin Foil would remove the needles and wasteful July state election date (similar bills: HB 857, SB 271); HB 808 by Rep. John LaBruzzo would transfer most charity hospitals out of the LSU system to make LSU’s educational mission less distracted; HB 834 by Rep. Rick Nowlin would allow non-recurring surplus funds to be given back as a rebate to taxpayers (similar bills: SB 207, SB 328); HB 835 by Geymann would prevent budget legerdemain by forcing a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before any monies are stashed into a dedicated fund other than to pay of debt or to save for the future; HB 869 by Arnold would allow for greater cable television competition (similar bill: SB 422); HB 888 by Henry would compute a more realistic expenditure limit figure (similar bill: SB 598); HB 914 by Rep. Jim Fannin would create greater security for intended use of New Opportunity Waiver funds that will reduce the cost of state health care spending (similar bill: SB 647); HB 960 by Rep. Rick Gallot would create more early voting locations (similar bill: SB 65); HB 971 by Rep. Dee Richard would prevent patronage distributed to newspapers by paying them to be the official journal of a government by allowing the government to declare online minutes as the official journal; HB 988 by Rep. Wayne Waddell would prevent sweetheart deals with legislators and their family members concerning rent of legislative office space; HB 1016 by Rep. Mert Smiley is his annual cleanup of unneeded boards and commissions; HB 1022 by Rep. Anthony Ligi would cause corrupt public servants to lose their benefits (similar bills: SB 27); HB 1082 by Geymann would penalize contractors who hire illegal aliens doing state work (similar bill: HB 1103); SB 66 by Sen. Bob Kostelka sensibly prevents from voting those found insane in some setting by a court; SB 87 by Sen. Buddy Shaw would undo mostly the income tax provisions of the Stelly Plan; SB 133 by Sen. Jack Donahue would make the Louisiana Agriculture Finance Authority which has been used as a conduit for abusive state spending to comply with public bid laws; SB 167 by Sen. Edwin Murray would increase access to the Legislature by mandating recording by video of interim legislative committee meetings; SB 185 by Sen. Rob Marionneaux would remove loopholes to the state’s nonsmoking laws; SB 199 by Sen. Nick Gautreaux would increase the amount of money that could be placed in the state’s savings fund; SB 397 by Sen. Neal Riser would increase state savings by requiring half of any monies authorized over the state’s expenditure cap to go to a savings fund (similar bills: SB 526); SB 561 by Sen. Ben Nevers would promote more robust science education.

THE BAD: HB 5 by Rep. Juan LaFonta would create two extra holidays at taxpayers’ expense (similar bills: HB 20, HB 30); HB 68 by Rep. Cedric Richmond would restrict Second Amendment rights; HB 81 by LaFonta would threaten free speech rights by disallowing campaign contributors to serve on an appointed board or commission by the receiver of the donation (similar bill: HB 82); HB 83 by Rep. Joe Harrison would boost needlessly salaries of legislators’ staffers (similar bills: SB 223, SB 653); HB 106 by Rep. Arthur Morrell would suppress free speech by an unenforceable ban on false campaign rhetoric (similar bill: SB 552); HB 109 by LaFonta would reduce a desirable feature of the American republic by pledging Louisiana to award presidential electors to whichever candidate has the most votes nationally; HB 165 by Morrell would increase voter fraud by making it more difficult to remove inactive voters from rolls; HB 195 by LaFonta would create unnecessary state expense in sending out voter information to hurricane-affected areas; HB 314 by Rep. Page Cortez would require private citizens serving in quasi-public positions as political party officials to disclose financial information (similar bills: HB 732); HB 323 by Hines would decrease public safety by abolishing the death penalty; HB 344 by Rep. Herbert Dixon would create an unneeded taxpayer-provided health care benefit for part-time politicians; HB 351 by Hines would waste taxpayer dollars by unnecessary environmental standards being placed on building public structures; HB 381 by Rep. Billy Chandler would make less sound the state fiscal structure by doubling the homestead exemption (similar bills: SB 19, SB 200); HB 384 by Rep. Sam Jones would waste state money paying for largely-unnecessary weight-reduction operations; HB 397 by Morrell would gut education accountability and standards by negating test scores in grade advancement decisions; HB 515 by Hines would involve absurd intrusion of government into the free market in lending; HB 529 by Rep. Nickie Monica would unduly restrict Second Amendment rights; HB 551 by Rep. Karen Carter Peterson would prevent conflict of interests from entering into board or commission member voting but is overbroad; HB 717 by Dixon would mandate an unnecessary salary increase for school support workers (similar bill: HB 735); HB 787 by Trahan lowers teacher quality by allowing individuals with attention deficit disorder not to have to take certification exams; HB 852 by Rep. Austin Badon would prohibit cellphone use by a vehicle driver but is unenforceable; HB 911 by Gallot would weaken ethics laws regarding free attendance at certain kinds of events (similar bills: HB 912, HB 921, HB 991); HB 939 by Arnold would induce a needless salary increase for part-time public service commissioners; HB 981 by LaFonta would give overbroad powers to government in the name of reducing alleged discrimination; HB 1000 by LaFonta would encourage unnecessary legislative interference in purging voter rolls of inactive voters (similar bill: HB 830); HB 1011 by LaFonta would needlessly involve the state in doing for felons what they should do for themselves in trying to restore their voting rights; SB 61 by Sen. Derrick Shepherd would force insurers potentially to take losses in forcing them to cover certain individuals; SB 125 by Sen. Reggie Dupre would increase the state’s presence in the insurance market by allowing it to compete without penalty with the private sector (similar bill: SB 460); SB 134 by Sen. Joe McPherson would risk political retaliation on and encourage patronage for public employees (similar bills: SB 135); SB 351 by Gautreaux would waste taxpayer dollars on the state buying inefficient hybrid fuel vehicles; SB 409 by Sen. Troy Hebert is an attempt to intimidate talk radio hosts and other criticizers of government by forcing them to comply with disclosure laws; SB 623 by Sen. Francis Thompson instead of wiping away useless regulation of horticulture, encourages more of it.

THE UGLY: HB 311 by Rep. Gary Smith increases the per diem pay for members of a small zoning board that don’t need any payment; HB 873 by Rep. Scott Simon makes what point by reducing the number of witnesses to sign a voter-by-mail form from two to one? HB 925 by Trahan makes every legislator volunteer a couple of times a year in the schools, as if Louisiana education wasn’t troubled enough; SB 225 by Shepherd makes the sagging pants violation statewide; SB 346 by Gautreaux creates a legal holiday for certain local government for the Cattle Festival.

And, to clean up on the last special session, both SB 5 and SB 11 were signed by the governor


bullet said...

SB 561 is a good bill? Have you looked at it?

Jeff Sadow said...

Uh, yeah, I don't just draw these numbers out of a hat. There are a lot of alarmists that are going to cry out that this bill is a stealth attack on an uncritical review of evolution, which really says more about their paranoia and insecurities than anything else. As an educator, I prefer more intellectual freedom rather than less, and that what the bill addresses.

bullet said...

I know, I was just being sarcastic.

If this bill is so inclined toward academic and intellectual freedom why is science the only subject mentioned? There are controversies in every academic sphere, why does this only protect science? Shouldn't we also protect history teachers who wish to teach Holocaust denial theory or September 11th conspiracies? Will this bill protect the sex-ed teacher that teaches condom use instead of abstinence?

"(4) That the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy..."

I am unaware of any legitimate controversy in the scientific community on biological evolution because there is none. There is religious controversy, but not scientific. There may disagreements about causes, paths and mechanics of natural selection, but not its validity. To maintain that the validity natural selection is in doubt is
a blatant falsehood.

Lastly, the bill was written at the request of the Louisiana Family Forum, a group that spreads mis-information and outright lies about Charles Darwin, his beliefs and the application of his theories, in papers like this one.

This is a very cleverly hidden, well-worded attempt to get god into the classroom through the supposed controversy over the scientifically sound theory of evolution versus intelligent design, a theory with no scientific value whatsoever.

Jeff Sadow said...

Always best to read the bills themselves, rather than take some interest group with an agenda's word for it. The proposed law "protects the teaching of scientific information, and this section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion."

The only controversy here is that being manufactured by paranoiac alarmists.