12 May 2010

Committee action, May 12: HB 410, SB 690, HB 415


HB 410 by Rep. Steve Carter would require all school boards without term limits to have a local option vote whether to impose them. Carter pointed out that it was a local option bill. But Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Bill Kostelka seemed very skeptical, asking why the electorate couldn’t pressure school board members to submit to a referendum for term limitation. Carter replied that since their own positions might be threatened they could be reluctant to do so, and said not only did it enable fresh ideas to come into school board governance, but that polling showed 94 percent of the public supported the concept of referenda on term limits.

Sen. Rob Marionneaux quizzed Carter on his view of term limits, asking whether it should be extended to all offices. Carter said he wouldn’t mind that, so Marionneaux promised an amendment.

Sen. Edwin Murray complained the legislation was unnecessary, drawing upon experiences with the Orleans board. He said if this was a local problem then it should be a local bill. Carter said the sentiment for a referendum was statewide and that problems coming from the temptations of long-standing membership were present in many places across the state.

Sen. Dan Claitor wanted to deal with the proposed amendments, but Kostelka said he thought they would not be germane. He then moved on the bill to which Kostelka objected, but Sen. Lydia Jackson then offered a motion to defer. The bill failed 6-2, Kostelka not voting, with all Democrats favoring and both Republicans opposing.


SB 690 by Sen. Robert Adley would allow no-party registrants to vote in a federal election political primary of their choice. Last week, there had been some confusion about a substitute bill for SB 690. This time, it was there and available to be voted upon. Without discussion, it passed without objection.


HB 415 by Rep. John LaBruzzo would amend the Constitution to have a course requiring instruction in the U.S. Constitution for baccalaureate degrees, arguing more people need more information about this subject. House Education Committee Chairman Austin Badon wanted to know about the fiscal note which said there would be an increase in expenditures, yet the Governor’s Office did not object, as Badon said the Administration tended not to support increased expenditures this year. It would expand costs because some extra instructional capacity would be required, and this meant a trip to the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Herbert Dixon offered amendments that also would make mandatory information about issues of slavery and civil rights to be part of that instruction. He echoed LaBruzzo’s comment about too much ignorance about vital information. LaBruzzo said he thought any landmark decision by the judiciary would have to be a part of this course and so an amendment should be inclusive. Dixon said he was trying to follow the format of the existing bill. LaBruzzo wondered whether being so specific would crowd out others, but Dixon offered it up anyway and it was adopted without objection.

Rep. Major Thibault then moved to defer it, to which LaBruzzo objected. Badon decided to allow more questions first. Rep. Frank Hoffman said he said thought just a basic knowledge of government through high school civics was enough, and that some college majors were too specific for it. Rep. John Bel Edwards said in a time of fiscal stress this requirement should not be imposed. LaBruzzo said even if the bill was eventually defeated because of budgetary concerns, it was important to make this statement with its passage.

Voting on the motion, there was no objection. LaBruzzo promised to return at some point with a version with a reduced fiscal impact.


I wish we could have kept listening to the Insurance Commission.

Carter after his bill’s failure, as at the beginning of his presentation the audio for the Senate Insurance Committee suddenly started steaming into the room.

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