26 March 2014

Committee action, Mar. 26: HB 141, HCR 15, HCR 6, HB 874

HB 141 by Rep. Kevin Pearson would relax requirements for advertising retirement bills, which are in addition to others, in the official journal. He pointed out to the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that with today’s technology, there’s plenty of opportunity for these to be known and there’s no apparent reason why they should be treated specially. “It’s all about money,” he said, implying that the official state journal, the Baton Rouge Advocate, had the only real vested interest in retaining this law, and questioned how it helped the large number of retirees who live outside of Baton Rouge.

Rep. Gregory Miller asked who paid for this additional cost; Pearson said the legislator pays for it unless the retirement system agreed, and can do it out of a campaign account, which he estimated was around $40 a notice. He said he thought it appropriate that local bills be advertised in local official journals.

Rep. Johnny Berthelot said the reason for advertising them was to discourage special retirement exemptions from being slipped into law. Pearson said recent constitutional changes would serve the same purpose, and didn’t think they really had much of a discouraging effect. He also said very specific bills still came in regardless.

Rep. Steven Pugh said cutting off newspapers without this revenue might threaten them, that local businesses should be promoted. Pearson did point out it would affect one paper, and didn’t think it was government’s job to subsidize newspapers, and creating economic development this way would mean all bills needed to meet the same requirement.

After dealing with a technical amendment, Pearson determined it was a losing cause and decided to defer voluntarily, which was done unanimously.

HCR 15 by Rep. Ray Garofalo would call for a constitutional convention to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit federal government power, and provide for term limits for federal officials and Members of Congress. He said there would be no “runaway” convention, saying the specificity of the resolution would prevent that, and surely 13 states would veto something like that. The resolution would limit amendments that any Louisiana delegation could propose and deal with. He said there have been 31 uses of the governing part of the Constitution for this, Art. V.

Opponent Sandy McDade of the conservative Eagle Forum said Art. V was too vague to prevent a runaway convention and that safeguards in the resolution won’t be good enough. A representative of the liberal Louisiana Budget Project agreed, and said the putting restraints on fiscal powers of the federal government as the resolution requested was unwise.

Garofalo disputed the last claim, given the enormous addition of debt in the federal government in recent years. He also argued precedent would provide the framework and that the three-quarters ratification requirement would prevent any unwise changes being made.

Rep. Mike Danahay, objected, saying he was uncertain that such a thing could be reined in, and moved to defer, and that was done without objection. Later, the similar HCR 6 by Rep. Nick Lorusso also was deferred.

HB 874 by Rep. Stuart Bishop, after some minor amending, would require reports made by agencies responsible for litigation in the previous year made to legislators at the beginning of a session. Miller asked whether it placed limitations on agencies; Bishop said it only addressed transparency. First Assistant Atty. General Trey Phillips said his agency collected much of this already, but said if they had to collect it on behalf of all agencies they needed to be the budget to do that.

Without objection, the amended bill was moved favorably unanimously.

I have a lot of Constitutional scholars in my district; they call all the time.
You too?
Danahay, during questioning of Garofalo with his reply.

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