16 June 2008

Floor action, Jun. 16: SB 789, SB 796

SB 789 was to apply to boards and commissions for certain highway commissions in rural areas (designed for Iberia Parish). Rep Patrick Connick asked to introduce an amendment dealing with the Crescent City Connection. Rep. Jeff Arnold asked whether it was germane, and Speaker Jim Tucker ruled it wasn’t. Connick complained and asked for a vote on the ruling. Tucker called him aside and reminded him these motions were rare and never successful. Disgruntled, Connick asked for personal privilege and Tucker said only asfter the bill passed. “We’ve got three more years; I’ll be back” Connick said, withdrew, and the bill passed without it.

SB 796 would remove debt supported by a taxpayer-dedicated revenue stream to be counted as debt for calculation purposes. Rep. Karen Carter Peterson asked why do this? Handler Rep. Chris Hazel stumbled through an explanation that he thought it would improve the state’s bond rating. Peterson wondered whether it ought to be returned to the calendar but then relinquished her questioning.

Tucker, who had left the chair at the beginning of the questioning, took the microphone, absolved Hazel for being a “good soldier” carrying the water for author Sen. Joe McPherson and called it a “very bad bill.” Tucker explained the basis of the bill, the money borrowed for the TIMED program being affected, and said this was not good budgetary or fiscal policy and that rating agencies would not change their ratings as a result of this and thought they would think it would make Louisiana less trustworthy.

Peterson said she had not gotten a note from the Gov. Bobby Jindal administration and asked what it thought. Tucker said he hadn’t, either, so he didn’t know what it thought. Other members got Tucker to repeat that it reflected poorly on the state’s reputation.

Hazel on closing repeated it would create no new debt. The bill was defeated 3-84 with only the representatives from McPherson’s district voting for it.

We all have been concerned about Mr. Fannin’s mental state and its changing over the next ten days.
Tucker, referring to Rep. Jim Fannin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who controls the pursestrings.

Members, I want to clarify, that was not a new record, he was handling a Senate bill
Tucker, referring to the 3-84 vote on SB 796 referring to a record for lopsided defeat – last year Rep. John LaBruzzo lost even more spectacularly on his own bill.

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