31 March 2012
Not much left longer now for bill introductions, but another trickled in with SB 633 joining other good bills trying to weed out abuse of welfare programs.
THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 89 passed House committee; HB 292 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 390 passed House committee; HB 974 passed Senate committee; HB 976 passed Senate committee; SB 21 with minor amendment passed Senate committee, with minor amendment passed Senate; SB 174 passed Senate; SB 217 passed Senate committee.
28 March 2012
DID YOU KNOW?
SB 129 would require legislators (who nominate students to get scholarships to Tulane University), the governor’s office, and higher education governance system members who give scholarships to students to report those names. Author Sen. Dan Claitor got some amendments quickly adopted without objection by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Greg Tarver thought, in the case of the Tulane scholarships, it was double reporting. Claitor conceded much overlap in that case, but said this made it easier to find rather than relying on Tulane’s reporting.
But Sen. J.-P. Morrell disputed that it would make it any easier, and called it “offensive,” saying it implied there was some kind of gain to a legislator to it. Claitor said transparency was always good, and said because information was not out there officially on some of them such as the governance boards, all of them should be made transparent and reported to the state.
Sen. Edwin Murray wanted to know if, like the Tulane scholarships, there was a waiver of confidentiality built in to these others agreements. Claitor said that could be worked into the other documents. Murray wondered if a statute would be needed to accomplish this. Claitor thanked him for a “constructive” comment.
Tarver made a motion to defer. That was defeated 2-5, with only him and Morrell in favor. Murray then offered an amendment to grandfather out current recipients who had not waived confidentiality, which was adopted without objection. However, then Claitor asked for deferral to work on additional clarifying amendments.
DID YOU KNOW?
HB 811 would have leave granted mandatorily to local elected officials by employers. Author Rep. Barbara Norton told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, who said the Legislature could tell employers what to do with whether they could allows guns on their premises, so why not with employers? Long time Caddo Parish Commissioner Ken Epperson spun a tale about how much work he put into his job and how people had tried to keep him from participating in meeting and how only rich people could then hold these positions, but did point out how national associations backed this measure. Otherwise, he said this was undemocratic, and noted time off was mandatory for jury duty, military service, etc. He said it was unfair that some many who “sacrificed” so much did not get the same treatment. A union representative called it “un-American.”
Rep. Tony Ligi said this would permit employees that were crucial to operation of a business or government agency to be absent with pay, and find a replacement. Epperson said it unlikely this person would run for office and if it was a small business, the law wouldn’t apply. Ligi asked for where in the legislation that was mentioned. Norton said the person who would take that kind of job (which then begs the question why the law would be needed) would not want to run for office, then claimed the bill was the optional by saying the language “shall” did not compel. Ligi then noted he was not wealthy or privileged and that some financial sacrifice was made by many to hold these kinds of offices, like him.
Rep. Randal Gaines said he thought provisions were in place to alleviate some concerns, such as working extra. Rep. Gregory Miller noted federal law precluded paying into pensions under the scenario. Norton then returned to semantics, wondering if substituting “may” instead of “shall” would alleviate that.
A Louisiana Business and Industry official commented there would be a significant cost to employers, underwriting a personal decision, echoing the concerns of the compulsive nature of the bill and the impact of federal law. Norton allowed Epperson to share closing, who claimed there would be no negative impact on businesses’ finances. She added that companies that could deny leave was a denial of “due process.”
Rep. Jared Brossett moved to report favorably, while Ligi offered a substitute motion to involuntarily defer, to which Brossett objected. Only Brossett and Gaines voted against this as it passed 8-2.
DID YOU KNOW?
HB 89 by Ligi would prevent local public bodies from keeping secret collective bargaining negotiations in executive sessions and mandate publicizing subsequent agreements. Ligi noted that in executive sessions bar the public, shutting out the public, but legal strategies could still stay out of the public eye according to the bill.
Gaines thought the bill could inhibit negotiations. Ligi said this increased transparency allowed employees and the public to have input into the process that could produce a better product. Supporters noted the possibility that non-public agreements could violate state law, so publicizing them could catch these problems. Opponents representing unions said the law should not be so broadly cast, said 24-hour notice was too onerous, all agreements have to be voted on in a public forum, would prevent a union official from “talking to my boss,” claimed corporations and national forces were behind the bill, said if something bad happened under current law then voters could punish officials, and, if passed, threatened to send union members to newly-opened meetings, declaring the legislation “anti-union,” and “attacking unions.” Ligi called this a “threat,” which was denied, and wondered what was so bad about sunshine. Ligi also noted that current law prevented making public documents concocted in executive session, while opponents claimed no loophole like this existed, and that it was better to close it than leave it open for abuse.
Ligi closed by pointing out the hyperbole used by opponents that had nothing to do with what he said. He said that with so much money involved the employer, the public, had the right to be involved in all aspects of the process. He moved to report, to which Gaines objected and offered a substitute for involuntary deferral, which failed 3-7 with only Brossett, Gaines and Rep. Mike Danahay in favor. Back to the main motion, it succeeded 8-2 with Dannhay changing sides.
DID YOU KNOW?
HB 292 by Rep. Stephen Pugh would place consecutive three-term limits on school boards, requiring a local option election to determine this later this year along with national elections. Technical amendments were adopted.
Supporters said this eliminated the allure of power to prevent distraction from the education mission, allowing term-limited individuals to help in other ways, would refresh boards with new ideas, if it was good enough for legislators, it was good enough for school board members, and would improve dismal student performance. Only one opponent spoke, rambling about how democracy was going downhill and this bill was an indicator of this, and said staff would end up running things so nothing would be done.
Chairman Tim Burns offered his own remarks, disputing that new members of the Legislature were not knowledgeable. Pugh closed noted the wide variety of supporters (the only opponents represented unions). When Pugh asked for passage, Brossett objected, but it succeeded 5-3 with the same three Democrats opposing.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
This is a good bill, what’s left of itRep. Marcus Hunter on his HB 792 after being heavily amended, which seconds later was involuntarily deferred.
24 March 2012
THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 209 passed House committee; HB 933 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 933 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 974 with minor amendment passed House; HB 976 with minor amendment passed House; SB 174 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 581 with minor amendment passed Senate committee, with minor amendment passed Senate.
THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: SB 625 was substituted by Senate committee for SB 609 and passed.
Total number of bills, House: 1025; total number of bills, Senate: 625.
Total number of good bills, House: 59; total number of good bills, Senate: 34.
Total number of bad bills, House: 34; total number of bad bills, Senate: 20.
Total House good bills heard in House committee: 6; total Senate good bills heard in Senate committee: 4.
Total House bad bills heard in House committee: 0; total Senate bad bills heard in Senate committee: 1.
Total House good bills passed by House committee: 4; total Senate good bills passed by Senate committee: 4.
Total House bad bills passed by House committee: 0; total Senate bad bills passed by Senate committee: 0.
Total House good bills approved by House: 2; total Senate good bills approved by Senate: 0.
Total House bad bills approved by House: 0; total Senate bad bills approved by Senate: 0.
Total House good bills heard in Senate committee: 0; total Senate good bills heard in House committee: 0.
Total House bad bills heard in Senate committee: 0; total Senate bad bills heard in House committee: 0.
Total House good bills approved by Senate committee: 0; total Senate good bills approved by House committee: 0.
Total House bad bills approved by Senate committee: 0; total Senate bad bills approved by House committee: 0.
Total House good bills approved by Senate: 0; total Senate good bills approved by House: 0.
Total House bad bills approved by Senate: 0; total Senate bad bills approved by House: 0.
Total House good bills going to governor: 0; total Senate good bills going to governor: 0.
Total House bad bills going to governor: 0; total Senate bad bills going to governor: 0.
Total House good bills signed by governor/filed with Secretary of State: 0; total Senate good bills signed by governor/filed with Secretary of State: 0.
Total House bad bills signed by governor/filed with Secretary of State: 0; total Senate bad bills signed by governor/filed with Secretary of State: 0.
21 March 2012
DID YOU KNOW?
HB 209 by Rep. Franklin Foil would reduce slightly the hours that polls are open. He said 14 hours (not even including set up and break down) was too many for people to work polls, that early voting was available, and, as Sec. of State Tom Schedler also pointed out to the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, research showed the first hour of the day featured chronic voters, 2.72 percent of the total including the commissioners, who will vote regardless of time and length of day had nothing to do with turnout. He said it was not a partisan issue, and emphasized that as a part of setting the effective date to the beginning of next year. Early voting, in fact, added 80.5 hours and also ballots can be mailed in.
An AFL-CIO officer testified against it. She claimed enough of the first hour voters might not vote to make their assumed lack of participation crucial. After Schedler made clarifying comments, the bill was moved and approved without objection.
DID YOU KNOW?
HB 876 by Rep. Henry Burns would bump runoff general elections to a week later after the current less-than four weeks gap for federal elections and four weeks for others. Angie Rogers from the Sec. of State detailed the many tasks that had to be done between elections, which means working on Saturdays if not Sundays between them.
Rep. Gregory Miller noted this could put state and local runoffs on the Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Chairman Tim Burns agreed it could be a problem, as holidays also would shorten time. Henry Burns then asked for deferral to figure out where to go from here, which was moved and approved without objection.
DID YOU KNOW?
HB 878 by Rep. Stuart Bishop would repeal the requirement that absentee voters’ names be posted prior to an election at registrars’ office. Schedler said this led to too aggressive campaigning, where campaigns would visit people on the list and offer to help them fill out their ballots. Without objection, it was passed and even placed on the House consent calendar.
DID YOU KNOW?HB 894 by Tim Burns was like HB 876, except adds one week of delay only to certain elections, including federal elections. Rep. Mike Danahay asked about how that affect seniority and other questions regarding federal officials. Schedler said he didn’t know if it would set any state’s elections ahead of Louisiana’s, but could look it up. (In fact, it does, under a special provision in Georgia law.) For that reason, the bill was deferred voluntarily.
17 March 2012
Bill filing continues awhile longer, and a few noteworthy bills actually got handled this week.
THE GOOD: HB 992 by Rep. Patrick Connick would free the Crescent City Connection from tolls and shuffle remaining funds to maintenance (HB 985 introduced related to HB 61).
THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 974 passed House committee; HB 976 passed House committee; SB 581 passed Senate committee; SB 597 passed Senate committee; SB 603 passed Senate committee.
10 March 2012
Welcome to the Louisiana Legislature Log’s coverage of the 2012 Regular Session, with the listing of the good, bad, and ugly prefiled bills. Starting next week, updates will come on these on a weekly basis, as well as selective coverage of committee and floor action on them.