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.