04 July 2015

Legislative regular session rankings, 2015


And so the session is complete, save an unprecedented and miraculous veto override session being called. Thus, and appropriately on Independence Day, it’s time to compute the voting scorecard for the 2015 session. Twelve bills were selected and weighed for computation, all but two having been voted upon in both chambers. These were chosen mostly from the watch list compiled throughout the session, along with others of some importance. For a bill’s vote(s) to be selected, in one chamber there had to be more than one legislator not voting for the winning or losing side.

Being that passage of bills depends upon the seated membership of a body, not voting is counted as a negative vote. However, if a legislator had a leave of absence granted for that day, his absent votes weren’t counted for bills voted on that day and the score adjusted to take that into account.

Here are the bills with votes for final passage in every case on which the scorecard was computed, with the conservative/reform position and the weighing indicated:

Legislative regular session through Jul. 4, 2015


Happy Independence Day, and we are free of the Louisiana Legislature being in session for another few months (new governors almost always call special sessions, so look for this space to resume publishing in early 2016.) The final disposition of bills occurred this week.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 598 was signed by the governor; HB 735 was signed by the governor; HB 749 was signed by the governor; SB 98 was signed by the governor; SB 101 was signed by the governor; SB 133 was signed by the governor.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 216 was signed by the governor; SB 61 was signed by the governor.

27 June 2015

Legislative regular session through Jun. 27, 2015



The governor must have been busy this week for he acted on hardly any bills. However, the clock will run out on him next week, so if he plans on vetoing anything, he’d better get to it.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: SB 68 was signed by the governor; SB 222 was signed by the governor.

SCORECARD:

20 June 2015

Legislative regular session through Jun. 20, 2015



Some of these events actually happened prior to this past week, but only now are legislative staffs catching up to posting this information. They still haven’t caught up to some bill signings and vetoes.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 131 was signed by the governor; HB 735 was sent to the governor; HB 748 was sent to the governor and signed into law; HB 779 was sent to the governor and signed into law; HB 829 was sent to the governor and signed into law; SB 48 was vetoed by the governor; SB 100 was sent to the governor and was signed into law; SB 102 was sent to the governor and signed into law; SB 103 was sent to the governor and signed into law; SB 106 was sent to the governor and signed into law.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 30 was signed by the governor; HB 119 was signed by the governor; HB 129 was signed by the governor; HB 171 was signed by the governor; HB 370 was vetoed by the governor; HB 624 was sent to the governor and signed into law; HB 629 was sent to the governor and signed into law; HB 837 was sent to the governor and vetoed; SB 190 was signed by the governor; SB 202 was filed with the secretary of state; SB 260 was signed by the governor.

13 June 2015

Legislative regular session through Jun. 13, 2015



The Legislature has adjourned sine die, so pocketbooks are safe for at least a few more months. Now the governor must make his decisions on a host of good and bad bills. In the interim, SB 153 was mutated into benign form.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 61 with major amendment passed the Senate and was rejected by the House; HB 598 was concurred in; HB 735 with minor amendment passed the Senate, was rejected by the House, and conference report with minor amendment was approved by both; HB 748 with minor amendment passed the Senate, was rejected by the House, and the conference report with minor amendment was approved by both; HB 749 was passed by the Senate and sent to the governor; HB 779 with minor amendment passed the Senate and was concurred in; HB 829 with minor amendment passed the Senate, was rejected by the House, and conference report with major amendment was approved by both; SB 98 was concurred in and sent to the governor; SB 100 was rejected by the House and conference report with major amendment was approved by both; SB 101 was concurred in and sent to the governor; SB 102 was rejected by the Senate and conference report with major amendment was approved by both; SB 103 was rejected by the Senate and conference report with major amendment was approved by both; SB 105 was rejected by the Senate; SB 106 was rejected by the Senate and conference report with minor amendment was approved by both; SB 122 was concurred with and sent to the governor; SB 133 was concurred in and sent to the governor; SB 155 failed to pass the House; SB 283 was concurred in and sent to the governor.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 30 passed Senate committee, passed the Senate, and was sent to the governor; HB 119 was rejected by the House, conference report with major amendment was approved by both, and was sent to the governor; HB 171 was concurred in and sent to the governor; HB 216 was sent to the governor; HB 370 was rejected by the House, conference report with minor amendment was approved by both, and was sent to the governor; HB 624 with minor amendment passed the Senate, was rejected by the House, and conference report with minor amendment was approved by both; HB 629 with minor amendment passed the Senate, was rejected by the House, and conference report with minor amendment was approved by both; HB 837 was concurred in and sent to the governor; SB 61 was rejected by the Senate and conference report with minor amendment was approved by both; SB 190 was concurred in and sent to the governor; SB 202 passed the House; SB 259 was concurred in and sent to the governor; SB 260 with minor amendment passed the House, was concurred in, and sent to the governor.

06 June 2015

Legislative regular session through Jun. 6, 2015



THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 61 with major amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; HB 235 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 598 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 604 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 735 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 748 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 749 passed Senate committee; HB 828 passed Senate committee; HB 829 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 48 with minor amendment passed the House, concurred in by the Senate, and was sent to the governor; SB 68 was sent to the governor; SB 98 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 100 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 101 with minor amendment passed the House;  SB 102 with major amendment passed the House; SB 103 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 105 with major amendment passed the House; SB 106 with major amendment passed the House; SB 122 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 133 passed the House and was concurred in by the Senate; SB 222 with minor amendment passed the House and was concurred in by the Senate; SB 283 with minor amendment passed the House.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 70 failed to pass the House; HB 119 with major amendment passed Senate committee and with major amendment passed the Senate; HB 171 passed Senate committee and the Senate; HB 216 was concurred in; HB 323 passed the House; HB 370 passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 624 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 629 with major amendment passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 837 passed the Senate; SB 61 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 153 passed House committee; SB 190 passed the House; SB 202 passed House committee; SB 259 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 260 with minor amendment passed House committee.

SCORECARD:

01 June 2015

Committee action, Jun. 1: SB 122, SB 202, SB 259, SB 260



DID YOU KNOW?
SB 122 by Sen. Robert Adley would amend the Constitution to increase the cap on money from mineral revenues, where the excess flows to the Budget Stabilization Fund, by $100 million. He reminded the House Appropriations Committee that every decade this can be changed, meaning that more money can directed to state spending. Last year was the first year the cap was eligible to be increased. This he said, through other legislation, could shunt money to transportation needs. This he considered important because while statute would begin taking money from vehicle fees and dedicating it to transportation, it is now estimated that 2020 would be the earliest the benchmarks would be hit to permit this. In the interim, this bill could provide money for this need. After brief discussion and amendment to change the effective date, without objection it was reported favorably.

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 202 by Adley would amend the Constitution to change the BSF so that funding past $500 million that the Constitution directs to the BSF currently could be used for transportation needs. He said by fixing this cap some money would not sit idly by, waiting on appropriation that needs certain conditions to trigger, but could be put to work on a major concern. Without objection it was reported favorably.

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 259 by Adley was the enabling legislation for SB 202. Without objection it was reported favorably.

30 May 2015

Legislative regular session through May 30, 2015



THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 131 passed the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 168 with major amendment passed the House; HB 604 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 646 passed the House; HB 735 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 748 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 828 with major amendment passed the House; SB 68 passed the House; SB 98 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 100 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 101 passed House committee; SB 102 with major amendment passed House committee; SB 103 with major amendment passed House committee; SB 105 passed House committee; SB 106 passed House committee; SB 187 was deferred involuntarily; SB 283 passed House committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 30 passed House committee; HB 70 passed House committee; HB 129 passed Senate committee and the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 216 with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 778 failed to pass the House; HB 837 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 202 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 218 was signed by the governor; SB 259 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

SCORECARD:

26 May 2015

Committee action, May 26: HB 70, HB 30

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 70 by state Rep. Walt Leger would increase the earned income tax credit. He told the House Ways and Means Committee it would help poorer individuals with bills and small business, as the money is spent by recipients. Roughly 30 percent of returns claimed it. Witnesses said many recipient families have children, some are in the military, and claimed it actually was an incentive to work and asserted it provided a net positive contribution to economic development.

Rep. Lenar Whitney pointed out that the EITC could be applied to illegal aliens courtesy of the Pres. Barack Obama executive order that would deemphasize enforcement. Leger said he didn’t really know how that might apply. Whitney also asked whether this was the right time to pursue this when the state faced budget difficulties; Leger said it could be used as an offset to any tax increases that may occur as a result. Rep. Julie Stokes also expressed concern with the bill for that reason, and that it should be viewed in terms of overall tax reform that might be better dealt with comprehensively in the future.

The committee voted 8-6 in favor, with a number of Republicans absent, all Democrats voting in favor, and Republican Reps. Chris Broadwater, Frank Hoffman, and Tom Willmott also in favor.

24 May 2015

Legislative regular session through May 23, 2015

Another bill mutated into benign form this week, HB 542, and therefore is removed from the list of bad bills. The same is true with SB 54.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 66 failed to pass the House; HB 131 passed Senate committee; HB 598 passed Senate committee; HB 604 passed House committee; HB 735 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 748 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 749 passed the House; HB 828 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 18 was substituted for by SB 285; SB 48 passed House committee; SB 119 passed Senate committee; SB 133 passed House committee; SB 155 passed House committee; SB 222 passed House committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 166 failed to pass the House; HB 171 passed the House; HB 216 passed Senate committee; HB 323 passed House committee; HB 333 passed House committee; HB 359 failed to pass the House; HB 837 passed the House; SB 61 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 190 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 202 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 218 passed the Senate; SB 259 with minor amendment passed Senate committee.

19 May 2015

Committee action, May 19: SB 222, HB 323, HB 118

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 222 by Sen. Jack Donahue would produce a tax exemption expenditure forecast annually. Donahue told the House Appropriations Committee that this was similar to a bill passed last year but eventually vetoed, requiring these listed in the executive budget then but that not included now to remove the governor’s objections. He said it would provide tools for better budgetary control, even as the information was available elsewhere. It would include only a subset of tax incentives. Technical amendments were approved, and then it was approved without objection.

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 323 by Rep. Walt Leger would amend the Constitution to prohibit taxpayer subsidies to be lowered for higher education as tuition and fees increase. It would set the fiscal year 2013 level as the baseline that could be overridden by supermajorities, and was similar to a bill that got out of the House last year. Without objection it was approved.

17 May 2015

Legislative regular session through May 16, 2015



Some interesting developments this week ended up in turning HB 373 into a benign bill.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 61 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 235 passed House committee; HB 701 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 34 was substituted for; becoming SB 283; SB 68 passed House committee; SB 96 was withdrawn; SB 99 was withdrawn; SB 102 passed the Senate; SB 104 was withdrawn; SB 106 with minor amendments passed the Senate; SB 155 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 283 passed Senate committee and passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 21 was deferred involuntarily; HB 43 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 333 passed House committee; HB 370 passed the House; HB 411 passed House committee; HB 412 with minor amendment passed House Committee; HB 672 was deferred involuntarily; HB 768 failed to pass the House; SB 153 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 173 with major amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 218 with major amendment passed the Senate; SB 260 with major amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate.

12 May 2015

Committee action, May 12: HB 21, HB 411, HB 333

DID YOU KNOW?      
HB 21 by state Rep. John Bel Edwards would prevent high-ranked districts in accountability to have charter schools if local districts refuse them, preventing the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from overriding such a decision unless it was a failing school and/or committed to serving students with exceptionalities. After minor amendments were adopted, Edwards said to the House Education Committee that there was no correlation between quality and performance of schools and that local governance was best in determining whether successful districts should have charter schools.

Proponents argued that by allowing the chartering of these schools in successful districts, it allowed unintentional subversion of the mission of charter schools primary as vehicles to assist at-risk students, As part of that, this could cause segregation by race. They claimed that these charter schools can use things like discipline policy to take the cream from the top. They also appealed to the concept of local control without state interference.

Opponents said the bill would discriminate against C-rated, D-rated, and F-rated districts, which would not “protect” most minority-majority, high-poverty districts; would deny opening schools that do serve primarily at-risk students because of political agendas of school board majorities and provided an appeals process for all that usually ruled in favor of school boards anyway; and poor schools in better districts should have the tool of charter schools maximally available for consideration of their improvement. Also, they said it was appropriate to have state involvement in the matter since the majority of funding of local districts came from the state and state law determined local powers. They pointed out that almost half of all dropouts statewide come from better-performing districts, and that many students headed to charter schools are probable dropouts. They also questioned that if Edwards saw no relationship between performance scores and quality, then why would a bill be built discriminating along those lines? Additionally, they noted that lottery rules for selection into a charter school favored at-risk students. Finally, they claimed the bill was unconstitutional.

09 May 2015

Legislative regular session through May 9, 2015



With the bill filing deadline passed, increases in the number of bills now come from substitute bills coming into being.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 701 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 779 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 829 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 13 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 98 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 100 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 101 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 102 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 103 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate; SB 105 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate; SB 106 passed Senate committee and with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 122 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 155 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 187 passed Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 43 passed House committee; HB 100 got substituted by HB 837; HB 119 passed House committee and the House; HB 129 passed the House; HB 132 was withdrawn; HB 166 passed House committee; HB 171 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 216 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 370 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 509 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 565 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 624 with minor amendment passed House committee and passed the House; HB 629 with minor amendment passed House committee and the House; HB 686 was deferred involuntarily; HB 768 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 777 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 778 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 837 passed House committee; SB 61 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 190 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 218 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 219 passed Senate committee.

05 May 2015

Committee action, May 5: HB 758, HB 189, HB 518



DID YOU KNOW?
HB 758 by state Rep. Jay Morris originally would make use of the estimates in the tax exemption budget, validated by the Revenue Estimating Conference, by making them separate appropriations and the refund portion capped by the estimate. But he immediately offered up amendments that changed the bill considerably by requiring the Legislature to appropriate annually the estimated amount of the tax exemption in question in its entirety for each, through fiscal year 2020. The House Appropriations Committee members seemed somewhat perplexed by the set, which Morris said originated from the Department of Revenue in response to members’ concerns. So, nobody wanted to put them forward and vote on them.

He also had another set of amendments that established when actual request for expenditures went over that appropriated amount, then a value methodology, the details of which would be determined by the executive branch, would be employed to determine who got what amount of credits. He told committee members a first-come-first-serve regimen would cause chaos. Rep. John Schroder suggested the bill just get voted on as is, and nobody offered the amendments, with Morris lamenting he had co-authors on the committee that seemed unenthusiastic about it.

Department of Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield then came to the table and said he wasn’t sold on the original bill’s approach in that putting caps on these might dilute the power of the incentives, and thought the bill should have more work.  Chairman Jim Fannin said he didn’t like that philosophy, because it in effect took appropriation power out of the hands of the Legislature, and that it should control appropriation over everything. Other committee members then declared open season on Barfield and began peppering him with largely unrelated bill questions about budgetary flexibility, aggregate personnel decisions, raising revenues, and other bills addressing this issue.

Schroder moved favorable passage, and there was no objection.

03 May 2015

Legislative regular session through May 2, 2015

And the hits just keep coming ....


THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 122 passed House committee; HB 131 passed the House; HB 276 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 510 passed House committee; HB 598 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 704 passed House committee; HB 829 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 48 passed the Senate; SB 222 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 129 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 137 was withdrawn; HB 359 passed House committee; HB 560 was deferred involuntarily; SB 54 passed Senate committee; SB 190 with minor amendment passed Senate committee.

28 April 2015

Committee action, Apr. 28: HB 534



DID YOU KNOW?
HB 534 by Rep. Joseph Bouie would create regulation of any statewide cable franchise and put under the power of the Public Service Commission. He said to the House Commerce Committee that as the Federal Communications Commission now has declared internet service a utility, any franchising relying upon Internet delivery now should fall under the PSC.

Rep. Steven Ortego asked whether the Legislature would have any oversight if this became law. He was told that by statute it could direct the PSC, but regulations over the Internet, in terms of delivery video services, would now solely be directed by the PSC. Rep. Katrina Jackson noted that even as the Secretary of State has the ability to grant franchises statewide, there is no regulatory power and none is being done now. Ortego expressed concern that the bill was too open-ended in its power to regulate.

Opponents said the bill would undo provisions of legislative control established years ago. They said the bill was premature concerning the Internet and that the PSC would charge fees that would be passed through to consumers. Already much was reporting was being done to the FCC. The pointed out that the field was competitive and not indicative of a monopolistic business, yet the bill would impose regulation on just one sector of that.

Rep. Erich Ponti made a substitute motion after the close to defer voluntarily. That passed 14-3.