23 June 2012

Legislative regular session rankings, 2012

And we here go, presenting the 2012 Louisiana Legislature Log voting index scorecard. To make annual note of how the scorecard is constructed, the final chamber votes on a bill are used, coded so that higher scores equal a conservative/reform vote while lower scores indicates a liberal/populist vote. Votes are selected on bills where there was controversy (defined as both chambers having at least one yes and one no vote on them) and weighed in accordance to the perceived importance of the bill. With one exception, as negative votes are defined constitutionally as failure to meet the minimum standard for passage of one half plus one of the seated membership of a chamber, for a bill where an affirmative vote indicates a conservative/reform vote, voting absent is scored as voting the liberal/populist preference, and where an affirmative vote indicated a liberal/populist preference, voting absent is scored as voting the conservative/reform way, except if a member has taken leave that day, where the vote is not scored and the overall score adjusted accordingly. Finally, because of the various different rationales governing votes on finances, budget bills are not used in compiling the index.

Two exceptions to the above apply. On SB 577, because the nature of the bill had changed substantially when it got voted out of the Senate, the concurrence vote was used. On SCR 99, those who did not vote were counted as absent since the seated majority requirement does not apply to resolutions (as a court will soon affirm), and scores adjusted.

The bills used, most featured among this space’s good and bad ones, and their weighings in index composition are as follows:

16 June 2012

Legislative regular session through Jun. 16, 2012


Even though ten days remain for gubernatorial decisions on vetoes, he had whipped out everything by yesterday. That means next week the scorecard for legislators and the governor will appear. Thus, unless a historic veto override session emerges, the final scorecard for the regular session is below.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: SB 9 was signed by governor; SB 21 was filed by the secretary of state; SB 273 was signed by the governor; SB 565 was signed by the governor; SB 766 was signed by the governor.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 1144 was signed by the governor; SB 106 was signed by the governor; SB 750 was signed by the governor.

09 June 2012

Legislative regular session through Jun. 9, 2012


You can reduce the vigilance you keep on your wallet; the Louisiana Legislature has adjourned its 2012 regular session. Now all that remains is the final executive disposition of bills.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 9 was filed with the secretary of state; HB 10 was signed by the governor; HB 61 was signed by the governor; HB 209 was signed by the governor; HB 292 was signed by the governor; HB 873 was signed by the governor; HB 942 was signed by the governor; HB 950 was signed by the governor; SB 9 was sent to the governor; SB 21 was sent to the governor; SB 273 was sent to the governor; SB 565 was sent to the governor; SB 633 was signed by the governor; SB 766 was sent to the governor.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 1144 was sent to the governor; SB 106 was sent to the governor; SB 285 was signed by the governor; SB 577 had conference report concurred in, was sent to the governor, and vetoed by the governor; SB 625 was signed by the governor; SB 750 was sent to the governor.

02 June 2012

Legislative regular session through Jun. 2, 2012


As sometimes happens in the home stretch, a bill gets its body snatched by another for something late breaking. That happened to HB 1144, which was a bad bill to begin with, but its mutated form was just as bad, as it makes non-daily newspapers (see the issue here) in Orleans Parish able to run legal notices. It remains bad because it perpetuates the archaic, useless, and wasteful idea that legal notices by government must appear in hard copy by a private publisher.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 61 was sent to the governor; HB 209 passed the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 292 was sent to the governor; HB 314 was signed by the governor; HB 707 was signed by the governor; HB 873 was sent to the governor; HB 942 was sent to the governor; HB 950 was concurred in by the Senate and was sent to the governor; SB 7 passed the House and was sent to the governor; SB 9 was passed by the House; SB 21 with minor amendment passed the House and was concurred by the Senate; SB 174 was signed by the governor; SB 273 passed House committee and passed the House; SB 565 was passed by the House and sent to the governor; SB 633 was concurred by the Senate and sent to the governor; SB 766 with minor amendment passed House committee, with minor amendment passed the House, and was concurred in by the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 1144 with major amendment passed the Senate and was concurred in by the House; SB 106 with minor amendment passed the House and was concurred in by the Senate; SB 285 was sent to the governor; SB 577 passed the House; SB 750 passed the House, was concurred in by the Senate, and was sent to the governor.

29 May 2012

Committee action, May 29: HB 327, HB 328, HB 1092

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 327 by Rep. Dee Richard would eliminate 10 percent of all funding to contracts. Treasurer John Kennedy, as he had in the House, argued to the Senate Finance Committee that with so many of them out there that surely some weren’t really needed, and gave examples of some that seemed superfluous. He said some of them had been subject to line-item vetoes but then had been wangled out of the executive branch.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater testified that the total dollar amount of contracts from state government had been reduced by over a quarter since Gov. Bobby Jindal took office. He said an arbitrary cut of 10 percent would cause problems especially for larger contracts. He noted that contractual agreements with the federal government also constrained cuts of this nature. And, he said the Administration was sensitive to the issue of end runs. He pointed out that queries were handled all of the time about them.

A couple of senators then peppered Kennedy with defenses of some of the contract titles and amounts he had read out. Kennedy said they weren’t bogus, put perhaps should not be priorities. Sen. Edwin Murray said he thought the better approach was to vet by contract by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, as Kennedy had suggested be done on a case-by-case basis.

26 May 2012

Legislative regular session through May 26, 2012


THE GOOD: On rare occasions, due to parliamentary maneuvering a bill neither ascertained good nor bad becomes one or the other as a result of one of those kinds being grafted on to it. Such happened last week when essentially the contents of HB 1198 got appended on SB 6 by Sen. Elbert Guillory, a bill that would have mandated reporting of savings through privatization of education. Thus, SB 6 has become invigorated into being a good bill.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 9 passed Senate committee and the Senate; HB 10 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; HB 61 was rejected in concurrence; HB 89 was signed by the governor; HB 209 passed Senate committee; HB 292 passed the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 314 was concurred in and sent to the governor; HB 707 was sent to the governor; HB 711 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 873 passed Senate committee and the Senate; HB 942 with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 950 with a minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 1043 passed House committee and passed the House; SB 6 with major amendment passed House committee; SB 7 passed House committee; SB 9 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 21 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 47 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 174 was sent to the governor;  SB 590 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 633 passed the House; SB 766 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 68 was signed by the governor; HB 1216 passed the House; SB 106 passed House committee; SB 285 passed the House; SB 577 passed House committee; SB 625 was concurred in by the Senate.

21 May 2012

Committee action, May 21: HB 9, HB 10, HB 95, HB 1043


DID YOU KNOW?
HB 9 and HB 10 by Rep. Tony Ligi would trigger pension forfeitures of state contributions for those who commit serious financial crimes or sexual crimes against minors in government service, for those employed/elected to office at the beginning of next year, and not to beneficiaries or dependents.

Sen. Gerald Long of the Senate Retirement Committee asked how this differed from current law and how it would not hurt beneficiaries or dependents. Ligi said the bill would allow judicial discretion to innocent beneficiaries and dependents. He said this bill strengthened garnishment, beyond fine collection or restitution. Long also wondered whether this was an urgent issue; Ligi cited a couple of recent cases where this would have applied.

Sen. Barrow Peacock wondered how pardoning would work. Ligi said it would have no effect. Supporters argued this bill would provide deterrence and so in essence it may never have to be used. Long asked how this stacked up against federal law; Ligi said there was a feature for forfeiture.

HB 10 was approved without objection. HB 9, the constitutional amendment, then was treated similarly.

19 May 2012

Legislative regular session through May 19, 2012


THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 61 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate; HB 89 was concurred in by the House; HB 292 passed Senate committee; HB 314 passed the Senate; HB 380 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 707 passed Senate committee and passed the Senate; SB 47 passed House committee; SB 174 passed the House; SB 273 with major amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate; SB 565 passed House committee; SB 590 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 593 was substituted for with SB 766; SB 708 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 766 passed Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 327 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 328 passed the House; HB 717 was substituted for with HB 1216; HB 1144 passed Senate committee; HB 1216 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 625 passed the House; SB 750 with minor amendment passed House committee.

14 May 2012

Committee action, May 14: HB 717, SB 273


HB 717 by Rep. Jeff Thompson would redirect a portion on the riverboat taxes collected from the (soon-to-be) six boats to the Independence Bowl Foundation and a number of local economic development and sporting/tourism organizations.

Thompson said to the House Appropriations Committee the substitute bill would do a better job of protecting revenue sources, because the apportionment being shunted to the organizations was to come from the newest arrival. It takes an 8 percent part of the newest’s franchise tax (the total is 22 percent of revenues). It has a 10-year lifespan, and mandates certain minimum infrastructure and job-creating standards to apply only to the new arrival. To prevent cannibalization from the other five, it comes into affect only if the three-year average of all of them is met. The receiving entities also must report on how the money was used and presumably paid off.

A representative of one of the benefitting organizations said a glut of hotel rooms that appeared as gas prices went down could be addressed by having funds to attract sporting events. Rep. Roy Burrell expressed concerned that, even as the new arrival will locate in the district, he felt he had been left out of discussions on the bill and so were other entities that could benefit. Calling her by the wrong name, Burrell asked the representative why certain groups/events didn’t seem to be covered. She said she thought everything that concerned him would be eligible for funding.

12 May 2012

Legislative regular session through May 12, 2012


THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 9 passed the House; HB 10 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 299 failed to pass the House; HB 314 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 380 passed House committee; HB 711 passed the House; HB 942 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 950 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 1043 passed House committee; HB 1215 was substituted for HB 1133 and passed House committee; SB 47 with major amendment passed the Senate; SB 633 with minor amendment passed House committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 327 passed House committee; HB 328 passed House committee; HB 964 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 1095 failed to pass the House; SB 106 passed the Senate; SB 285 passed House committee.

07 May 2012

Committee action, May 7: HB 327, HB 328

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 327 by Rep. Dee Richard would cut up to a tenth in total spending of all contracts, for next fiscal year only. Treasury John Kennedy testified to the House Appropriations Committee there were at least 19,000 contracts spread across the state, with perhaps as many as $7 billion in value. He thought $500 million could be lopped off, which should not be priorities for this budget year. He read a few summaries which seemed particularly trivial, such as seat belt usage by school children, chimpanzee viewing, and field trips for fashion. He also gave examples from correspondents of how procedures can allow for lack of oversight for the scope and amounts of them. He said one approach could be to have the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget review contracts from $50,000 and above, in a simple procedure.

Kennedy, in response to questions, noted that this was a result of policy-making within agencies that needed further review. He said the 10 percent approach was a way to flush out those of presumed low priority. Perhaps both approaches, which would create a bottleneck, could do the trick. Rep. Joe Harrison wondered whether current state employees became future contractors; Kennedy claimed no review was occurring to know this.

Rep. Franklin Foil asked how much was federal money. Kennedy said there were but could give no specific amount, and said regardless of source, low priorities should be eliminated. He also said renegotiation was possible to save money, and said maybe an amendment could add that.

Rep. Tony Ligi asked whether the bill would prevent those rejected or vetoed items from reappearing in contract form, as Kennedy testified he had found at least 24 instances. Kennedy said not, but an amendment would be welcome.

Rep. Pat Smith wondered whether the priorities such as poverty reductions would not get short shrift. Kennedy said federal dollars probably will start declining for this area anyway, and on the state side priorities would be upheld with bureaucrats, although legislative review would provide greater assurance. Smith said that addition might be too costly and time-consuming.

Rep. Roy Burrell said that with all of the questions that were out there and with the amendment suggestions, why not convert the bill into a study resolution? Kennedy said the Commission on Streamlining Government in essence had done that, and he thought the problem was obviously rendered through its review.

A representative of the Secretary of State said even this cut would lop off in federal contracted money what they argued were priority and irreplaceable. Kennedy said another amendment could allow for an escape provision. Chairman Jim Fannin said even with that, it would push greater reductions onto others.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater spoke in opposition, saying that the Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration already had cut over 9 percent in contracting from the previous year, and 15 percent the year before and this could be checked through budget authority granted. He said the budget process existed to vet contracting money requested (except for emergency adjustments). He also noted this could be a barrier to privatization as well. He claimed overall the present process was working and provided greater flexibility than the bill’s approach.

Burrell asked whether vetoed legislation was reappearing in contracts. Rainwater said he had not heard of that and it would be something that would draw a serious response. However, some areas of government are granted autonomy, especially higher education and for everything under $20,000, where this might happen. But an arbitrary approach, he noted, was what the bill did and would not work as well. Kennedy responded by saying it would not be arbitrary, in a small breach of protocol as this was happening during to the opposition testimony phase. Burrell also asked Rainwater about the utility of a study bill, who said more information was good when regarding the many unintended consequences that could occur with the bill.

Responding to questions by Smith, Rainwater noted the inspector general’s office, his divisions own resources, the Legislative Audit Advisory Committee, and the Legislative Auditor all were existing methods to review contracts, that a process was in place. Smith recommended agencies themselves conduct these kinds of review to justify. Rainwater pointed out that a large number of the examples Kennedy had brought up had come through federal dollars that the state would not have gotten anyway and had become extinct. Some were required as part of other high-priority items by federal law.

Rep. John Schroder wondered whether the 30-day escape clause in contracts would not be used as a tool for renegotiation. Rainwater said that would be on legally shaky ground as a tactic, because it would circumvent the legal bid process. They could reduce demands on contractors for lower amounts, and had been.

Closing, Kennedy said the time was right to proceed, and not to study it. There was no objection to favorable passage.

DID YOU KNOW
Richard’s HB 328 would reduce 5,000 jobs over the next three years in the executive branch as well. Kennedy said attrition should take care of this, and it would force reorganization to make state government less top-heavy, which the Legislative Auditor said was the case. Or, spending cuts on personnel could do the same, which he said constituted $8 billion in all compensation. Even if some was forced onto the state by federal jobs, significant reductions still could occur.

Rainwater again spoke in opposition. He said strategic cuts were necessary and they were being done, both in numbers and jobs – producing the lowest numbers in 20 years, claiming $1 billion in savings. However, benefits costs were driving compensation costs per employee higher. Plus, responding to questions, he said while some agencies like higher education had autonomy in hiring, they still had to adhere to their budgets.

Kennedy closed by saying the cost of labor was not being controlled as it should be, and this bill could do it. He said at the salaries that cabinet secretaries got, they should be able to do this strategically. Without objection, it passed.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
If you can't find $250 million to cut from this, you must be from Ole Miss.
Kennedy, in his closing remarks on HB 327.

05 May 2012

Legislative regular session through May 5, 2012


THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 46 failed to pass the House; HB 61 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 89 passed the Senate; HB 299 passed House committee; HB 314 passed the House; HB 378 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 707 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 992 was involuntarily deferred; SB 7 passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 9 passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 174 passed House committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD:  HB 68 with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 130 was involuntarily deferred; HB 212 was involuntarily deferred; HB 244 was involuntarily deferred; HB 337 was involuntarily deferred; HB 901 was involuntarily deferred; SB 106 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 577 passed Senate committee; SB 625 with minor amendment passed House committee.

02 May 2012

Committee action, May 2: HB 911, SB 690, HB 212, HB 244, HB 337, HB 1133, HB 209


DID YOU KNOW?
HB 911 by Rep. Franklin Foil would continue to give 150 percent of the Minimum Foundation Program to students with disabilities (by federal IDEA guidelines) to attend private schools in some parts of the state. He told the House Education Committee that the bill would remove a sunset procedure and add more grades to it, but a planned increase to 175 percent had to be jettisoned due to the state’s tight funding situation. The money comes out of the general fund, not the MFP.

Opponents argued that by its nature it was supposed to be a pilot program but now has appeared as a full-time, expanded program without enough data to analyze. They said the federal dollars for public schools weren’t adequate enough anyway, those they called “left behind.” When asked about putting a sunset back on, however, they said they still would oppose it because they thought those with greater degrees of disabilities would be disproportionately remaining in public schools. Nor does it pay for all tuition in all cases.

Rep. John Edwards asked whether a sunset could occur in two more years, and Foil said he was amenable to this. Edwards also wanted to make sure some kind of report was issued about it, and Foil said he was amenable to having one. But he said timing could be an issue. They figured relevant amendments could be added on the floor.

Without opposition, the bill was reported.

28 April 2012

Legislative regular session through Apr. 28, 2012


THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 395 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 396 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 711 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 708 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 68 passed Senate committee; HB 165 was involuntarily deferred; HB 1095 with minor amendment passed House committee.

25 April 2012

Committee action, Apr. 25: HB 395, HB 396, HB 1095, SB 568


DID YOU KNOW?
HB 395 by Rep. Thomas Carmody would make funding decisions made by higher education supervisory boards subject to rules set by the Board of Regents. Previous to its consideration, information by the Governance Board created to investigate higher education was reported to the House Education Committee, laying the groundwork for this bill. Carmody explained this meant money would be allocated by the Regents to specific schools, without the ability of supervisory boards making changes.

Supporters said the intent all along had been that Regents policy has the financial ability to have them implemented, but current state law was ambiguous to the point that allowed systems to adjust the formula, disrupting a clear chain of command. However, Rep. John Bel Edwards disputed this interpretation, saying he didn’t see the bill doing anything because of what was run through the appropriations bill that would take precedence, although a constitutional amendment might be another matter. He didn’t see how the bill made matters more clear, since the funding formula wasn’t being followed. It was pointed out that current practice subverted what the appropriations bill did anyway, and an amendment would allow for five percent of money to be set aside for systems to distribute as they liked. Edwards could not see how the formula would jive with the Legislature’s appropriations.

21 April 2012

Legislative regular session through Apr. 21, 2012


THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 9 passed House committee; HB 10 passed House committee; HB 46 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 1198 was substituted for HB 60, HB 314 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 707 passed House committee; HB 942 passed the House; HB 950 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 974 was signed by the governor; HB 976 was signed by the governor; SB 47 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 749 was substituted for SB 51 and passed Senate committee; SB 52 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 565 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate, SB 581 passed the House with minor amendment, was concurred in by the Senate, and was signed by the governor; SB 708 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 727 passed Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: SB 374 was involuntarily deferred; SB 750 was substituted from SB 328 and passed Senate committee.

14 April 2012

Legislative regular session through Apr. 14, 2012

During this week, previously bad bill HB 525 was substituted into a benign form, and thus was removed from the list.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 60 passed House committee; HB 61 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 773 was involuntarily deferred; HB 850 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 873 passed the House; SB 633 passed Senate committee and passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 834 was involuntarily deferred; HB 1139 passed House committee; HB 1144 with minor amendment passed the House.

11 April 2012

Committee action, Apr. 11: HB 833, HB 834, HB 525, HB 187


DID YOU KNOW?
HB 833 by Rep. Barbara Norton would dismiss schools when temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, because school buses aren’t air conditioned and school boards won’t let them bring water on them. Union official Jackie Lansdale told the House Education Committee said starting school in August, pushed by testing, increased this risk to children’s health and water bottles could not solve for this as they might be used as projectiles, so this should be the solution.

Rep. John Edwards argued that letting out students early might not work out as well, because children might go to homes without air conditioning and also it would disrupt parents work schedules. Norton said if they were let out for ice, then they should be let out for heat, and so should parents. Edwards noted that for winter weather, many employers close for safety reasons, but did not have the same threat for heat. He asked whether school districts had the authority to do this on their own.

Rep. Chris Broadwater noted that local districts did have discretion on dismissals, and thought a mandate in the bill was too restrictive. Lansdale said there were examples of other states that did it on a statewide basis, and thought competition among districts pressured them not to grant them. Broadwater said this bill did not do the same thing as those others, but Lansdale said it did in principle.

Norton closed rehashing her previous arguments after a motion to involuntarily defer the bill. But she didn’t object, and it was done.

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 834 by Norton would get rid of LEAP testing, end-of-course testing, and GEE testing.
Lansdale said alterations are needed because different states had different standards, and different districts had different resources, and private schools had different standards still in assessing proficiency. That some (private school) students weren’t being tested on these should imply that none should be.

Rep. Thomas Carmody pointed out that some standardization in assessing was needed in order to make valid comparisons. But Lansdale said without other societal problems being addressed, testing of this nature damaged self-esteem and caused students to fail and drop out. Carmody said if these factors were so ameliorative, then there seemed to be no way to constructively utilized testing that would give any valid results. Lansdale said to pass this bill and stop harming children. Carmody said testing was needed to understanding whether children learned.

A special education teacher argued that having these taught too much to the tests, and it did not take into account different learning. He claimed high stakes testing shows no association with other assessment like the ACT, and said it caused students to “fail and fall through the cracks.”

Rep. Alfred Williams didn’t understand how accountability was improved by removing an accountability measure. Norton said the unfairness of it in that some didn’t get tested meant it should be scrapped.

Opponents from the Department of Education and BESE and the governor’s office noted since testing began major gains had been made in achievement, demonstrating their validity and usefulness. They noted this improvement included those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Elimination also would confound federal law, confirming measurement of proficiency and ensuring teachers covered objectives, and put the state in jeopardy for violation. They noted alternative testing was done for those with learning disabilities, and always were willing to adjust, including a move to the Common Core Standards. Also noted was the rules were flexible to take account of many individuals circumstances.

Rep. Patrick Jefferson wondered if structures were in place to help students deal with the pressurized aspect of testing, and if the department would place greater testing emphasis on assessing writing. He was briefed on a number of programs available to assist in preparation and in areas of deficiency, and that the Common Core Standards did put more emphasis on measuring critical thinking in writing.

In closing, Norton let Lansdale say there needed to be valid testing, and that school was a life experience, and anecdotally suggested with new reforms in the offing that might make schooling too much to the exclusive of life activities. Norton then launched on a jeremiad against the recent reforms, then in rambling fashion said students needed to be treated fairly by testing all, or else throw it all out, saying the process, not test, was wrong. She said she and Lansdale would be watching, and “do the right thing” or else they would hurt schools.

It was moved favorably, but objected to. Only three black Democrats, state Reps. Wesley Bishop, Patricia Smith, and Williams present voted in favor. Without objection, it then was involuntarily deferred.

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 525 by Rep. Regina Barrow would have required community service of public high school graduates. But she decided because that might be onerous in some cases, she wanted to substitute a bill to create a diploma endorsement for this. Apparently, access to getting hours of this because of transportation issues, work requirements, and rural area opportunities might make it too difficult. She added she would like to make it a requirement in the future, to which Smith encouraged.

Without objection, the substitute was adopted, and reported by substitute.

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 187 by Rep. Truck Gisclair would make those who make more than 50 telephone calls about an issue to a government official or agency register as lobbyists and pay a nominal fee. Supporters argued to the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that these tactics used government resources and would increase transparency.

Rep. Taylor Barras wondered whether this would work the other way concerning legislators, and that the number might be high. Rep. Johnny Berthelot agreed and suggested the number at 500. He said nobody wanted to be inundated by calls and create more work for legislative staffs, but that the number of 50 might be low.

Julie Cherry of the state AFL-CIO said this tactic was a valuable tool in letting legislators know about issues and should not be onerous for organizations to pursue it, to give out valuable information to legislators. She also thought this my overburden ethics overseers.

Chairman Tim Burns opined this was too broad and threatened too many unintended consequences. He also said this activity did get reported in other ways. Supporters argued this “leveled the playing field,” and that this activity was “getting out of hand,” stressing it was just reporting and not stopping contact.

Rep. Mike Danahay asked Gisclair to voluntarily defer so they could work on these issues, and he agreed.