23 May 2017

Committee action, May 23: HB 302, SB 167

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 302 by Rep. Lance Harris would increase the monthly probation fee paid in order to fund recruitment and retention for probation officers. Harris told the Senate Judiciary B Committee that with changes coming in criminal justice that would put a greater burden of probationary services. Chairman Gary Smith wondered whether extra funds would materialize if probationers could not afford the $37 a month extra. Harris said the bill said only employed probationers would be subject to the increase.

Sen. Karen Peterson asked whether this would guarantee a pay raise. Harris said it was an option, but he would leave it up to the department. Some debate ensued about the actual amount it would generate and how that would translate into pay raises. Peterson said she hesitated to support something that could not guarantee a raise, and Sen. Greg Tarver said the amount he thought was too small to give a meaningful raise, but nonetheless wanted an amendment that would send it to raises and said he otherwise wouldn’t vote for it. Harris said he would go along with that.

Peterson said the bill ended up pitting state employees against each other, since it was dedicating funds. She said to vote against it didn’t mean those voting against state employees. Harris said this would help right now. Peterson accused Harris of bringing it for headlines and launched a jeremiad against current budgeting practices and for the minimum wage, solving alleged pay equity problems and the like.

20 May 2017

Legislative regular session through May 20, 2017

HB 176 has been removed from the list of bad bills after amendment.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 6 was deferred involuntarily by Senate committee; HB 113 passed the House; HB 518 failed to pass the House; HB 556 with major amendment passed the House; HB 590 with major amendment passed the House; HB 601 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 676 with major amendment passed the House; SB 67 passed the Senate; SB 111 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 34 was deferred involuntarily; HB 67 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 101 was deferred involuntarily; HB 249 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 312 passed House committee; HB 413 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 454 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 632 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 637 failed to pass the House; HB 667 passed House committee; SB 24 was deferred involuntarily; SB 25 passed the Senate; SB 155 passed Senate committee; SB 254 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

17 May 2017

Committee action, May 17: HB 6, HB 34

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 6 by Rep. Paul Hollis would allow the state to exempt the state from penalties from the individual mandate for buying health insurance. He told the Senate Insurance Committee that a recent executive order allowed for states asking for this to happen, so Louisiana needed to pursue a waiver to do this. The law would dictate that the state make the application.

Senators queried about the practical effect of the bill. Sen. Blade Morrish wondered how the penalty mechanism worked, which is collected by the Internal Revenue Service only when a taxpayer did not pay the fee and had an income tax refund coming. He argued the taxpayer even could choose whether to pay it regardless of any waiver. He later noted that so little choice in coverage requirements and high deductibles forced families either to pay above their means or had to pay the penalty unless something like the waiver came into play.

Opponents argued the individual mandate prevented rates from increasing to make up for compensated care, citing recent analysis of the potential replacement for the law that had the individual mandate – although that actually largely measured the changes in age requirements and mandated coverages. They also alleged it would be unconstitutional and that current law did not allow for such a waiver – even though former Pres. Barack Obama had issued waivers without the law explicitly permitting these. Additionally, they claimed confusion would result.

13 May 2017

Legislative regular session through May 13, 2017

By substitution, HB 685 became a good bill, to have the Louisiana Deferred Compensation Plan not invest in securities whose parent companies boycott Israel. SB 144 has been removed from the list of good bills after an amendment crippling to its purpose became attached to it. Additionally, by substitute SB 36 mutated from being a bad bill. Also, HB 139 and SB 243 were amended into forms altering the aspects that made each a bad bill. Finally, HB 333 had amended out of it less salutary aspects that made it a bad bill, and thus is removed from the list.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 68 was deferred involuntarily; HB 82 passed Senate committee; HB 113 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 117 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 152 was deferred involuntarily; HB 257 was deferred involuntarily; HB 272 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 302 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 351 with major amendment passed the House; HB 360 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 361 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 518 passed House committee; HB 556 passed House committee; HB 590 passed House committee; HB 676 failed to pass the House; HB 685 passed House committee; SB 67 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 98 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 100 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 111 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 243 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 177 was substituted for by HB 681 and passed House committee; HB 228 was deferred involuntarily; HB 239 was deferred involuntarily; HB 258 was deferred involuntarily; HB 312 passed House committee; HB 394 was deferred involuntarily; HB 497 failed to pass the House; HB 544 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 637 passed House committee; SB 13 was deferred involuntarily; SB 71 passed House committee; SB 83 passed Senate committee; SB 254 was recalled from Senate committee.

09 May 2017

Committee action, May 9: SB 167, HB 91, HB 457

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 167 by Sen. Regina Barrow would make companies that let out harmful air emissions pay for health screenings of individuals in the area affected. She brought along Lt. Gen. (ret.) Russell Honore, who heads an environmentalist group. He told the Senate Environmental Quality Committee that people who live near concerns that use potentially harmful chemicals should have peace of mind provided with checkups by the offenders. State agencies would order this kind of relief for people living within a mile of the release.

Agency representatives detailed when violations could occur that the bill would cover, which could take several months to determine and who bore responsibility. Sen. Eddie Lambert, after hearing this, thought the bill would force annual testing for everybody. Honore said it could come from events or be continuous, and 350 entities would qualify.

Sen. Conrad Appel asked what was a “health screening” was. He was told this could be construed as multiple tests. Further, as the language also doesn’t identify what to look for, this he was told magnifies the testing demand. He also wondered how testing could separate out the impact of an exposure to long-term environmental factors in a person’s life, which would make it he heard difficult to detect the exposure’s impact. Finally, he asked how it would happen. Barrow said she hoped the offenders would do it.

06 May 2017

Legislative regular sesison through May 6, 2017

HB 187 has been removed from the list of good bills, as it was amended to extend the deadline to pay off tax credit recipients after notification that credits had been exhausted. HB 245 also has been removed from that list as it had amended out a requirement focusing on personal responsibility.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 6 passed the House; HB 272 passed House committee; HB 302 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 676 passed House committee; SB 98 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 100 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 243 with minor amendment passed Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 333 passed House committee; SB 2 passed Senate committee; SB 139 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 235 was substituted for by SB 254.

01 May 2017

Committee action, May 1: HB 187, HB 527

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 187 would erase even earlier the solar energy tax credit but in return make sure that all tax credits paid out. Rep. Greg Cromer told the House Ways and Means Committee that the cap on the program meant some people that had entered the program prior to its previous attenuation would not gain access to the credit. He and others also thought it fair to make sure these people got access to the credit. He also said that it would have ended the leasing aspect of the program six months early, but then said he didn’t want to do that and asked for an amendment to be offered to do it. That was done. More than one member claimed part of the problem came from unscrupulous vendors selling the credit without full information. He said it would not expand the program in any way.

Reps. Major Thibault and Ted James expressed concern that the budget would take a $15.7 million hit, as well as no one seemed entirely sure what the final figure might be. Another amendment would cut off the date for purchase at the end of 2015, making that figure hard. Cromer argued that the amendment would not cover people suckered by unscrupulous dealers, and opposed it. Rep. Dodie Horton thought the amendment needed not to make the credit open-ended through the date in the bill, the end of fiscal year 2017, and assessment with which Secretary of Revenue Kimberly Robinson agreed.

But as Chairman Neil Abramson was off testifying elsewhere and Cromer had said he had told him he would not offer that amendment currently, Vice Chairman Jim Morris said he would not have the amendment offered. Thibault said he would offer a similar amendment if it made it to the floor, arguing that buyers needed to assume some responsibility. James said to extend the date would encourage expansion of the cost as people jumped in. Horton said the state need not facilitate unscrupulous behavior.