20 May 2018

Regular legislative session through May 19, 2018

Perhaps an even more hectic finish than typical came to the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature. Now its matters rest in the hands of the governor, even as a(nother) special session begins in a few days.

The final days saw the gutting of HB 602, so it was removed from the list of good bills.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 30 was signed by the governor; HB 78 was concurred in; HB 88 was passed by the Senate and concurred in; HB 281 with major amendment passed the Senate and was concurred in; HB 321 passed the Senate, was concurred in, and was sent to the governor; HB 793 with minor amendment passed the Senate and was concurred in; HB 830 was not concurred in and had the House and Senate adopt a conference report; HB 891 was concurred in; SB 31 was passed by the House and concurred in; SB 42 was sent to the governor; SB 50 was sent to the governor; SB 119 passed the House and was concurred in; SB 319 passed the House, was not concurred in, and had the House and Senate adopt a conference report; SB 325 passed the House and was sent to the governor; SB 347 passed House committee and the House; SB 364 with minor amendment passed the House and was concurred in; SB 452 passed the House; SB 462 passed the House; SB 534 with minor amendment passed the House.

13 May 2018

Regular legislative session through May 12, 2018

HB 748 has been removed form the list of good bills after its gutting by a Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 54 passed the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 88 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 321 passed Senate committee; HB 480 passed the House; HB 723 passed the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 793 passed House committee; HB 830 with major amendment passed Senate committee; HB 891 with major amendment passed the Senate; SB 31 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 42 passed the House;  SB 50 passed the House; SB 319 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 325 passed House committee; SB 452 passed House committee; SB 462 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 534 with minor amendment passed House committee.

THIS WEK FOR THE BAD: HB 265 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 399 failed to pass the House; HB 579 with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 823 passed the Senate; SB 331 passed the House and was sent to the governor; SB 558 passed the House.

09 May 2018

Committee action, May 9: SB 365

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 365 by Sen. Rick Ward would impose regulations on the short-term loan industry in response to federal regulations changing in Aug., 2019 that otherwise might wipe out the industry. He told the House Commerce Committee it imposed reasonable restrictions on the industry. He offered some clarifying amendments that set the following rules: 3-12 months, $500-875 in amount, 9 percent simple interest rate monthly, grace periods for payments (10 days) and default (61 days), and 30 days between loans, among other things. Even so, the bill would cause significant shrinkage of the industry.

Rep. Rodney Lyons asked whether the bill would affect anybody outside the industry, and was told it would not. Rep. Edmond Jordan said the bill’s terms still weren’t good enough, calling it “predatory.” Ward said, without the bill’s terms, the product hardly would exist, and demonstrated as such by noting lower-priced products don’t currently exist. He also said the rule could be repealed by Congress, but was told that seemed unrealistic and ignored business realities. Jordan also went over what seemed a checklist of opponents’ objections and received answers which contradicted the assertions.

Rep. Patrick Jefferson asked how it would it impact current consumers. Ward said it provided help for those without any other recourse, and about 20,000 currently took advantage of that. About a quarter defaulted, but that was the nature of lending to high-risk consumers. Without the bill, the number served would plummet.

06 May 2018

Regular legislative session through May 5, 2018

HB 399 has joined the list of bad bills after it has percolated through the legislative process. It would dilute even further the weak merit-based principle behind the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 30 passed the Senate and was sent to the governor; HB 54 passed Senate committee; HB 78 with minor amendment passed the Senate; HB 163 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 321 passed the House; HB 480 passed the House; HB 602 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 723 passed Senate Committee; HB 793 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 31 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 119 with major amendment passed House committee; SB 325 passed the Senate; SB 364 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 452 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 534 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 399 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 579 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 823 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 380 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 558 with minor amendment passed House committee.

02 May 2018

Committee action, May 2: SB 380, HB 628, HB 723, SB 364

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 380 by Sen. Wesley Bishop would give public money to low-performing students who improve their performance. He told the House Education Committee it addressed students who scored low (17, 18, 19) on the American College Test who maintained at least a 3.2 grade point average through their first 60 hours, with an amendment that was adopted, where they could have the last 60 hours qualify for a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. They number 47 across the state. He said it was a more expansive version of SB 394 by Sen. Bodi White, which applied to community college graduates.

Rep. Pat Smith said this would be great for students, even class valedictorians, that she knew of in this situation. She moved to report it, and it advanced without objection.

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 628 by Rep. Marcus Hunter said his slimmed-down bill would allow children 13 to 18 to accompany parents into the voting booth. He told the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee this was an educational opportunity.

28 April 2018

Legislative regular session through Apr. 28, 2018

SB 727 falls off the list of good bills after amendments that essentially gutted it to make it largely duplicative of existing law. SB 465 comes off the list of bad bills as it was amended into benign form.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 30 passed Senate committee and the Senate; HB 78 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; HB 281 passed Senate committee; HB 321 passed House committee; HB 602 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 793 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 830 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 891 passed Senate committee; SB 31 passed the Senate; SB 42 with minor amendment passed House committee; SB 50 passed House committee; SB 325 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 462 passed House committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 605 was deferred involuntarily; SB 331 passed House committee; SB 558 with minor amendment passed House committee.

25 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 25: HB 861

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 861 by Rep. Randal Gaines would redistrict the 32nd Judicial District into a district-based election system from an at-large system. He told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that recent court rulings have called this kind of system discriminatory. Gaines said this would be the seventh time a bill came in front of the Legislature to change it, and said the court likely would impose a remedy if it didn’t act.

Plaintiffs for the case alleged the current system was discriminatory, and said it was appropriate for a non-area legislator to file such a bill. They noted 13 other districts had subdistricts in this fashion. They said the desire of the district’s judges not to move to this system should be overridden, because it was against the people’s interests. They also said that this attitude could spread and threaten minority-majority majoritarian districts in the parish covered, Terrebone.

Chairman Mike Danahay noted a projected districting system would split a large number of districts. He said it would be difficult to administer and confuse voters.

21 April 2018

Legislative regular session through Apr. 21, 2018

Amended into a benign form is SB 312, so it was removed from the bad bill list. And when SB 95 became substituted for by SB 562, the new bill also is harmless, removing SB 95 from the list of bad bills.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 391 failed to pass the House; HB 413 failed to pass the House; HB 418 failed to pass the House; HB 749 with major amendment passed the House; SB 31 with major amendment passed Senate committee; SB 319 passed the Senate; SB 347 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 504 passed Senate committee; SB 534 with major amendment passed Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 99 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 265 failed to pass the House; HB 649 was deferred involuntarily; HB 823 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 331 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 380 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 474 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and passed the Senate.

17 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 17: HB 760, HB 649

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 760 by Rep. Jay Morris would require information to be provided to legislators on request. He told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that the bill would improve legislative access to executive branch information by allowing legislators to have quickly this, in an understandable fashion.

Chairman Mike Danahay asked whether this might become disruptive. Morris said better to have too much information and to revisit the law if changes needed. He also had adopted an amendment to protect individual data.

Rep. Rob Shadoin pointed out that the bill allowed many more people than legislators to access this information, but Morris said it would have to come at a legislator’s discretion. Regardless, this could cause a lot of work, he argued. Morris said it was necessary because the executive branch sometimes might not be entirely forthcoming given conflictual interests.

14 April 2018

Legislative regular session through Apr. 14, 2018

The number of bills filed creeps up still, because of substitutes. Also, HB 357 and HB 628 were removed from the bad bill list, as amendments to these in committee made them benign.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 54 passed the House; HB 88 passed the House; HB 161 passed House committee; HB 163 passed House committee; HB 414 passed House committee; HB 561 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 723 passed the House; HB 727 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 748 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 749 with major amendment passed House committee; HB 830 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 891 passed the House; SB 364 with major amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 462 passed the Senate;

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 162 was deferred involuntarily; HB 265 passed House committee; HB 328 was deferred involuntarily; HB 579 with major amendment passed the House; HB 651 was deferred involuntarily; HB 823 passed House committee; SB 51 passed Senate committee; SB 274 failed to pass the Senate; SB 278 failed to pass the Senate; SB 380 with minor amendment passed the Senate; SB 491 with minor amendment passed Senate committee; SB 493 with minor amendment passed Senate committee and the Senate; SB 558 with minor amendment passed the Senate.

11 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 11: HB 265, HB 417

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 265 by Rep. Pat Smith would allow felons to vote once released from prison, after five years. She told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that the law and Constitution dictates that those under imprisonment, which includes probation and parole, for a felony can’t vote.

Representatives for an ex-offender interest group noted that the bill would aid those on long-term parole or probation. But Rep. Rob Shadoin noted that parole and probation offenders sometimes did not draw imprisonment and wondered how it could be implemented.

Others said the right to vote would increase their integration into the community, echoing a statistic that people who vote are less likely to offend – although the direction of causation was not made clear. Still others appeared to litigate a case in process over the definition of “imprisonment.” They also noted ex-felons still had to pay taxes yet couldn’t vote in Louisiana and therefore didn’t have a say in society.

Rep. Barry Ivey said just because felons in this situation could not vote doesn’t mean public policy doesn’t address their needs. Speaking on the administrative side, First Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said the system as is would not reliably work to identify individuals properly under the proposed bill, and would need changes to fit.

Smith closed saying changing the system should not be difficult. The bill was approved 7-2.

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 417 by Ivey would also restore felon voting rights, but they would have to perform community service for this. Rep. Lance Harris moved for its involuntary deferral, to which Ivey moved for passage. His request failed 2-6.

08 April 2018

Legislative regular session through Apr. 7, 2018

Bill filing has come to a halt, and with that a blizzard of last-minute filings. Also, HB 79 was amended to broaden it in a constructive way, leading to dropping it from the list of bad bills.

THE GOOD: HB 793 by Rep. Steve Carter would discourage hazing at public colleges; HB 825 by Rep. Polly Thomas would ease unnecessary occupational licensing (similar bill: SB 504); HB 830 by Rep. Julie Stokes would reduce the incidence of human trafficking problems; HB 836 by Rep. Julie Emerson would increase Second Amendment rights on college campuses; HB 881 by Rep. Dustin Miller would reduce privileging of those who smoke in public; HB 891 by Rep. Frank Hoffman would prevent abortion providers from funneling indirectly public dollars to the practice; SB 522 by Sen. Dan Claitor would provide improved crime deterrence and restorative justice; SB 531 by Sen. John Milkovich would create a fairer reimbursement methodology for nursing homes; SB 534 by Milkovich would discourage coerced abortions.

THE BAD: HB 795 by Rep. Gary Carter would increase the chances of election fraud; HB 805 by Rep. Robert Johnson would reveal too intrusively taxpayer records; HB 809 by Rep. Ted James would increase needlessly taxpayer expenditures on corrections; HB 823 by Rep. Tanner Magee would remove an oversight opportunity from the medical marijuana program (similar bill: HB 827); HB 852 by Gary Carter would place needlessly onerous regulation on Second Amendment rights; HB 858 by Rep. Marcus Hunter would expand gambling; SB 516 by Sen. Ed Price would impose needlessly higher labor costs potentially on gaming operations.

04 April 2018

Committee action, Apr. 4: HB 88, HB 462

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 88 by Rep. Sherman Mack would enhance penalties for those who committed benefits fraud. He told the House Criminal Justice Administration Committee that currently no disincentive applied to falsifying application against individuals, as opposed to laws discouraging provider fraud. The penalty would vary from none to five years, or seven years in special cases.

Rep. Denise Marcelle said the bill was a reversal of criminal sentencing reform because it increased time in jail, although it was pointed out this penalty was discretionary, and claimed it would criminalize poor people who lie, although it was pointed out that those who truly qualified for a program who have no reason to falsify their applications. Rep. Barbara Norton asked what would happen if after applying for benefits someone got a raise or different job for more pay, and was told the law only looked at the representation at the time of application.

Rep. Ted James said tax incentives and rebates ought to be included, even though the bill only addressed entitlements, and offered an amendment to do that. Mack said that served to reduce the potential penalty for fraud in those kinds of activities, so why include it in the bill, and also could cause double jeopardy problems. The amendment was defeated 6-11, with only Democrats present voting for it.

31 March 2018

Legislative regular session through Mar. 31, 2018

Bill filing and processing continues.

THE GOODHB 727 by Rep. Major Thibault would add to the protected list of critical infrastructure that carries increased penalties for threatening; HB 745 by Rep. Rick Edmonds tightens review requirements for dedicated funds; HB 748  was substituted for HB 562 (similar bill: SB 494); HB 749 by Speaker Taylor Barras would standardize rideshare operations statewide; HB 760 by Rep. Jay Morris would prevent executive branch stonewalling of legislative requests.

THE BAD: HB 736 by Rep. Terry Landry would increase the chances of tyrannical government (similar bill: SB 491); SB 493 by Sen. Jay Luneau would cap certain tax rebate programs without any information as to whether these have net benefits or costs.

28 March 2018

Committee action, Mar. 28: HB 334

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 334 by Rep. Tony Bacala would create a managed care system for long-term health care, requiring the state to submit a proposal to the federal government to do so no later than the beginning of the year. It mirrored SB 357 by Sen. Conrad Appel, although that set a deadline a year later.

But Bacala said to the House Health and Welfare Committee that he would pull the bill, because the debate and actions surrounding Appel’s bill indicated it could not get through the legislative process. He lamented that Gov. John Bel Edwards, who during his campaign had expressed support for such a change in philosophy, did not seem motivated to put his weight behind the bill’s passage.

Rep. Bob Hensgens, whose civilian job is as a nursing home administrator, in remarks before making the motion to accommodate Bacala’s request, said he wanted to expand waiver services with new funding, but did not address Bacala’s concern to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely in the process. Without objection, the committee shelved the bill.

25 March 2018

Legislative regular session through Mar. 24, 2018

Bill filing continues …

THE GOOD: HB 718 by Rep. Patrick Connick would tighten ethics requirements for former executive branch officials.

THE BAD: SB 465 by Sen. Wesley Bishop would remove valuable disciplinary tools from schools; SB 474 by Sen. Yvonne Colomb would subvert accountability and the capital outlay process.

20 March 2018

Committee action, Mar. 20: SB 262, SB 417


DID YOU KNOW?
SB 262 by Sen. Ryan Gatti would expand gubernatorial powers during declared emergencies and extend the time period for which the declarations would last. Governor’s Office General Counsel Matthew Block explained the two parts of the bill to Senate Judiciary Committee B, one of which would allow for streamlining certain legal motions. The other would lengthen a declaration’s time from 30 to 90 days, with Block saying most disaster periods lasted far longer than either limit, meaning frequent renewals.

Originally, opponents of the bill didn’t wish to speak, but after Sen. Karen Peterson expressed surprise that opposition existed, one did, saying that longer periods gave greater latitude for state government to force private entities to do certain things that disrupted their business and potentially cost them profits. Retaining the shorter periods would better tailor actual public need to less disruption of the private sector.

Regardless, the committee approved the measure without objection, although with some expectation that changes would be forthcoming.

DID YOU KNOW?
SB 417 by Sen. Bodi White would set up a referendum to allow riverboat gambling in Tangipahoa Parish. White said meetings about it would be held and concessions extracted before any government or citizen vote in the parish would occur, which is required by law. Although he said he couldn’t remember which boat wanted to move from Bossier City, he did know the bill specified exactly where the boat would be.

Sen. Greg Tarver asked whether Gov. John Bel Edwards supported the measure, and was told he said he would sign the bill. Local backers touted the economic development benefits, with the investor saying when they bought they intended moving as an option and claimed the market was underserved.

Opponents argued that they did not have the resources to combat pro-gambling interests in swaying voters for the local option election, noted the most problem gamblers resided in the Florida Parishes and was increasing rapidly, the disingenuous nature of the request as the Tangipahoa River was too small to contain a boat, the environmental degradation that would occur in the proposed area, that statewide saturation of gambling meant this exercise was rearranging deck chairs, and that property values would decline.

Sen. Norby Chabert said moving licenses around to areas not currently allowed in law would set a tough precedent and would set the stage for potentially unhealthy deregulation. White closed by saying such an important matter should go to the people.

Chabert made a substitute motion to defer and with a bare quorum present, Sens. Ronnie Johns and Eric LaFleur voted against it. The first motion to approve then received no additional objection.

18 March 2018

Legislative regular session through Mar. 17, 2018

Bill filing continues as legislative action commences:

THE GOOD: SB 462 by Sen. Danny Martiny would create incentives for more building more housing.

THE BAD: HB 701 by Rep. Katrina Jackson would add more people to Louisiana’s overburdened pension system; SB 454 by Sen. Blade Morrish would needlessly dilute and expand the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students.

14 March 2018

Committee action, Mar. 14, 2018: HB 541

DID YOU KNOW?
HB 541 by Rep. Julie Stokes would amend the constitution essentially to make all sessions equal in subject matter covered instead of separate fiscal and general ones. Off the bat, Stokes asked the House and Governmental Affairs Committee to add an amendment, which was approved, which would leave the current arrangement largely the same, except the general/non-fiscal session could have five fiscal bills filed and statute-companion legislation to amendments would not count against that total.

Jim Patterson of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry spoke against it (although after demurely kissing Stokes on the cheek and pledging friendship between the two despite this issue), saying the group saw any problems as not systemic but a product of robust legislating. He said it was a good system for taxpayers being insulated every other year without fear of tax increases. Rep. Barry Ivey said business didn’t have to limit itself to biannual restrictions on revenue raising, although how he could equate government taking people’s money with business transactions he didn’t explain.

The bill was approved without objection.

12 March 2018

The Good, Bad, and Ugly for the 2018 Regular Session

Hot off an extraordinary session, the Louisiana Legislature now meets for its regular 2018 session. And, as always, we list here the good, bad, and ugly bills prefiled.

THE GOOD: HB 22 by Rep. Barry Ivey would shore up underfunded pension systems; HB 23 by Ivey would reduce the potential for large investment losses by state-run pension funds; HB 30 by Rep. Kevin Pearson would tighten requirements for benefits for persons with disabilities and minor children; HB 39 by Ivey would enroll new employees after fiscal year 2020 into a hybrid defined benefit/contribution pension system (similar bill: SB 14); HB 43 by Pearson would incorporate of the Registrars of Voters Employees' Retirement Plan into the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System; HB 46 by Rep. Lance Harris would provide for work and community engagement requirements in the state Medicaid program (similar bill: SB 77); HB 54 by Rep. Paul Hollis would make for more realistic recall provisions; HB 78 by Rep. Nancy Landry would clarify hazing penalties; HB 88 by Rep. Sherman Mack would create greater disincentive to commit benefits fraud; HB 123 by Rep. Ray Garofalo would make it illegal to sue requesters of public documents lawfully done; HB 161 by Garofalo would require payback of Taylor Opportunity Program for Scholars recipient who lost eligibility; HB 163 by Mack would make it easier to fight Medicaid fraud (similar bill: HB 480); HB 271 by Garofalo would increase school safety (similar bills: HB 332, HB 602, SB 298, SB 406); HB 280 by Rep. Jack McFarland would increase Medicaid client responsibility; HB 281 by Rep. Helena Moreno would increase client safety in nursing homes; HB 321 by Rep. Rick Edmonds would increase government transparency; HB 323 by Rep. Franklin Foil would call a limited constitutional convention focused on fiscal reform (similar bills: HB 385, HB 500, SB 218); HB 334 by Rep. Tony Bacala would establish managed care across the Medicaid services continuum; HB 350 by Rep. Jay Morris would induce greater efficiency in Medicaid implementation for hospitals (similar bill: HB 462); HB 362 by Rep. Frank Hoffman would induce greater efficient in Medicaid waiver program implementation; HB 391 by Pearson would affirm public access to waterways; HB 413 by Ivey would raise TOPS standards and create a transfer award (similar bill: HB 414); HB 418 by Ivey would allow management boards control over tuition; HB 485 by Rep. Rob Shadoin would amend the Constitution to eliminate a number of dedications; HB 530 by Speaker Taylor Barras would compute the expenditure limit calculation in a more realistic manner (similar bill: HB 540); HB 555 by Rep. Polly Thomas would bring greater transparency to public sector collective bargaining; HB 561 by Rep. Julie Emerson gets rid of needless occupational licensing (similar bill: HB 563, HB 623); HB 654 by Landry would expand school choice; HB 664 by Edmonds would facilitate streamlining government; SB 31 by Sen. Conrad Appel would amend the Constitution to disqualify recent felons from serving in political office; SB 34 by Sen. Mike Walsworth would make governments’ economic development efforts more competitive; SB 42 by Appel would reduce wasteful, abusive use of emergency response; SB 43 by Appel would amend the Constitution to consolidate higher education governance; SB 50 by Sen. J.P. Morrell would help discourage use of fake identifying receiving telephone numbers; SB 119 by Morrell would facilitate fraud reduction in Medicaid; SB 300 by Sen. Sharon Hewitt would increase access to services by clients on Medicaid waiver programs; SB 309 by Sen. Gerald Long protects religious freedom; SB 314 by Hewitt would remove intrusive regulations over the wine industry; SB 319  by Sen. Ryan Gatti would pare unneeded boards; SB 325 by Sen. John Milkovich would provide better enforcement of abortion legal practices; SB 347 by Hewitt would increase funding to waivers programs through more efficient delivery; SB 357 by Appel would require managed care of long-term supports and services programs; SB 364 by Sen. Rick Ward would strengthen free expression protections in higher education; SB 450 by Sen. Blade Morrish would make TOPS more efficient (similar bill: SB 452).

THE BAD: HB 79 by Mack would prevent families from protecting vulnerable relatives in nursing homes; HB 89 by Rep. Pat Smith would portray inaccurately constituencies in electoral districts; HB 99 by Rep. Katrina Jackson would create a needless new government board; HB 126 by Rep. Edmond Jordan would create unnecessary bureaucracy (similar bill: HB 635); HB 143 by Rep. Julie Stokes would amend the Constitution to create another dedication; HB 162 by Rep. Terry Landry would encourage violent crime by ending capital punishment for new offenders; HB 180 by Rep. Denise Marcelle would politicize groundwater management around Baton Rouge;  HB 192 by Rep. Joseph Bouie would establish a job-killing minimum wage (similar bills: SB 159, SB 162, SB 252); HB 202 by Rep. Kenny Havard would amendment the Constitution to allow government-owned utilities to charge people differentially based on age; HB 245 by Rep. Major Thibault would expand gambling (similar bills: HB 581, SB 217, SB 230, SB 266); HB 274 by Jordan would risk public safety by letting people get high (similar bill: HB 579); HB 357 by Rep. Denise Marcelle broadens the reach of unsound “hate crime” laws; HB 383 by Rep. Paula Davis rebates taxpayers’ money to first-time homebuyers for three years; HB 461 by Talbot would remove cost discipline on waiver services; HB 499 by Smith would mandate at the state level what should occur at the local level for schools; HB 519 by Smith would impose useless regulations on business pay practices; HB 587 by Hoffman weakens the value of tenure in public schools; HB 605 by Rep. Barbara Norton would enshrine the unequal pay myth into state law; HB 651 by Hoffman would weaken teacher accountability; SB 51 by Morrell would eliminate capital punishment; SB 55 by Milkovich would lead to eroding of educational standards; SB 61 by Sen. Danny Martiny would give judges an unnecessary pay raise; SB 71 by Sen. Beth Mizell would make enforcing safety at child care centers more difficult; SB 95 by Sen. Gerald Boudreaux would discriminate against virtual charter schools; SB 117 by Morrell would impose needless bureaucratic requirements on state contractors (similar bills: HB 251, SB 118); SB 140 by Gatti would have the state largely pay for veteran benefits already conveyed by the federal government; SB 141 by Gatti would add a needless incentive footed by taxpayers for finishing college early; SB 148 by Morrell would amend the Constitution to complicate, rather than reform, property taxation; SB 149 by Morrell would needlessly interfere with business rights on pay transparency (similar bill: HB 328); SB 150 by Morrell would degrade elections integrity (similar bills: HB 265, HB 628, HB 649, SB 449); SB 155 by Sen. Troy Carter would unduly restrict the right to bear arms (similar bills: HB 277, HB 473, HB 603, SB 185, SB 274); SB 200 by Sen. Wesley Bishop would remove a rehabilitation/restitution tool from law enforcement; SB 209 by Sen. Regina Barrow would impose needless costs on struggling businesses; SB 219 by Sen. Troy Carter would overregulate businesses in personnel matters; SB 228 by Morrell inappropriately privileges some behavior and discriminates against some viewpoints in the public schools; SB 262 by Gatti unwisely allows emergency powers to last more than 30 days continuously; SB 276 by Sen. Dan Claitor would restrict unduly eligibility to serve in the majoritarian branches of state government; SB 278 by Claitor would unwisely remove age limitations on service in the judicial branch; SB 292 by Barrow provides too little flexibility for charter school operation; SB 302 by Sen. John Milkovich would interfere in governance of schools; SB 312 by Sen. Eric LaFleur would weaken notice of tax increases by governing authorities; SB 331 by Sen. Yvonne Colomb would increase opportunities to abuse use of mobility impaired hang tags; SB 343 by Sen. Fred Mills would convey special retirement benefits for certain local judges; SB 374 by Barrow requires needless tasks concerning certain state prisoners; SB 380 by Bishop would expand wastefully TOPS; SB 381 by Carter would interfere with charter schools’ educational strategies; SB 444 by Sen. Bodi White would add another unnecessary dedication.

THE UGLY: HB 191 by Rep. Stuart Bishop would regulate what kind of chairs restaurants may have; HB 258 by Garofalo would allow more nursing home beds into a surplus market; why?; HB 317 by Rep. Robbie Carter would change non-chartered Independence change its election dates from all others in the state; why?; HB 340 by Rep. Jim Morris would create another dedication for a trivial purpose; SB 78 by Gatti needlessly would add a crime to the criminal code already covered by it; SB 122 by Sen. Jonathan Perry removes a provision allowing a police chief personnel authority instead of just writing the office out of statute.

10 March 2018

Legislative special session through Mar. 10, 2018

And, nothing much happened as the First Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature went out with a whimper.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 23 failed to pass the House.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 27 passed Senate committee and the Senate and was sent to the governor, where no doubt he will sign it.

03 March 2018

Legislative special session through Mar. 2, 2018

Little more happened this week than last. Because of amendments, HB 23, which would temporarily increase the sales tax for three years, by Rep. Stephen Dwight adds to the list of good bills. Also, SB 8 by Sen. Rick Ward would be like HB 29.

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 2 with minor amendment passed House committee and the House; HB 3 with major amendment passed House committee and passed the House; HB 12 with minor amendment passed the House; HB 29 with minor amendment passed the House; SB 8 with minor amendment passed Senate committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 27 passed the House.

24 February 2018

Legislative special session through Feb. 24, 2018

What little happened during first of two weeks of the special session was not encouraging. Two bills introduced in the interim largely mimicked other bills: HB 29 by Speaker Taylor Barras reflected HB 1 and SB 7 by Sen. Mike Walsworth reflected HB 2.

THE GOOD: HB 24 by Rep. Pat Smith would consolidate the confusing patchwork of sales tax holidays.

THE BAD: HB 25 by Jay Morris would alter certain tax exceptions in an incoherent manner; HB 26 by Rep. Stephen Dwight would increase permanently sales taxes; HB 27 by Smith would increase taxes on telephone lines (similar bill: HB 28).

THIS WEEK FOR THE GOOD: HB 12 passed House committee; HB 15 with minor amendment passed House committee; with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 24 with minor amendment passed House committee; HB 29 passed House committee.

THIS WEEK FOR THE BAD: HB 27 passed House committee; HB 28 passed House committee.

18 February 2018

The Good, Bad, and Ugly for the 2018 1st Extraordinary Session

Welcome to Louisiana’s new late winter tradition, an extraordinary session of the Louisiana Legislature. And time for the good, bad and ugly of the First Session of 2018 (note that some prefiled bills may be added as fiscal implications become clear; no fiscal notes have yet to be issued for any bill):

THE GOOD: HB 1 by Rep. Barry Ivey would increase transparency in government spending: HB 2 by Rep. Tony Bacala would strengthen fraud detection in Medicaid eligibility (similar bills: HB 5); HB 3 by Rep. Frank Hoffman would establish a work-like requirement for Medicaid (similar bill: SB 5); HB 4 by Rep. Jack McFarland would increase client responsibility in Medicaid (similar bill: HB 11); HB 12 by Speaker Taylor Barras would make the expenditure limit a better tool for fiscal control (similar bill: HB 15);

THE BAD: HB 7 by Rep. Ted James reduces income tax deductibility without corresponding rate reduction (similar bill: HB 8); HB 9 by Rep. Walt Leger raises some marginal individual income tax rates (similar bill: HB 13); HB 17 by Rep. Stephen Dwight provides for a permanent sales tax increase (similar bill: HB 18); HB 19 by Leger broadens sales taxation without corresponding rate reduction; HB 21 by Leger raises some marginal corporate income tax rates (similar bill: HB 22); SB 3 by Sen. J.P. Morrell would alter certain tax exceptions in an incoherent manner.