15 November 2005

Floor action, Nov. 15: HB 156

The House Appropriations Committee decided today that HB 145 and HB 146 would be the vehicles by which to raid the Budget Stabilization Fund. As such, these bills replace HB 153 and HB 154 in the bad bill category.

HB 156 came due in the House. The most interesting exchange came between Rep. Robby Carter asking about all of the giveaways – Saints, golf rounds, etc. Author Rep. John Alario responded by saying these were contractural arrangements except for money for the bowl games, of which the Sugar Bowl gave theirs back and the New Orleans Bowl gave back 5 percent.

Rep. Troy Hebert put forward an amendment to have each department slash by 10 percent the number of upper management positions. Even though it was opposed by Alario, it still passed 53-44, freeing this money for their use withn their departments.

Rep. Michael Jackson tried to amend to remove language that said the House essentially admitted the governor had the authority to cut up to 10 percent of general fund expenditures, which would moot the case brought by the Legislative Black Caucus. Supporters said it would resolve a constitutional question, while detractors said it would cost money. The amendment was thrashed with most votes for it coming from members of the Caucus.

Rep. Peppi Bruneau proposed an amendment that would allow the Senate to give back some money from operations, as had the House. He pointed out he left a blank in the amendment for the Senate to fill in, and hoped they would put something in there, then withdrew it, his point made.

Rep. Willie Hunter proposed an amendment that changed whoever’s oxen would be gored, although he wanted taken out language that essentially did what Jackson’s failed amendment would have done. Essentially, it would take money from the District Attorneys and a lot of programs they felt would not have to be funded because of underutlization in ravaged areas, and to restore the Rural Development Fund cut by Gov. Kathleen Blanco. But Alario said the cuts would not be enough to compensate, because it restored full funding in the areas the bill originally cut, then cut them only by 10 percent, throwing the budget adjustments out of whack.

Even with division of the amendments, every substantial part of it failed. Essentially, all that got left were technical amendments which passed. And the bill, cutting $94 million, passed with just one dissenting vote.

THE BAD: SB 108 by Sen. Pres. Don Hines is the Senate’s attempt to raid the Budget Stabilization Fund, largely tracking the language of HB 145 and HB 146 (allowing a 75 percent raiding rather than one-third), in tandem with Sen. Francis Heitmeier’s SB 92.

WEDNESDAY: Yes, for yet another day, HB 76 is scheduled to be heard by the House Commerce Committee; SB 92 and SB 108 are scheduled to be heard by the Senate Finance Committee; SB 95 is scheduled to be heard again by the Senate Transportation, Highways, and Public Works Committee.

“To the land of the plush from the land of the necessary.”
Bruneau, describing his perceived difference between the Senate and House.

Total House introductions: 166; total Senate introductions: 110.

Total House good bills: 6; total Senate good bills: 6.

Total House bad bills: 11; total Senate bad bills: 5.

Total House good bills heard in committee: 4; total Senate good bills heard in committee: 2.

Total House bad bills heard in committee: 8; total Senate bad bills heard in committee: 2

Total House good bills passing committee: 4; total Senate good bills passing committee: 1.

Total House bad bills passing committee: 4; total Senate bad bills passing committee: 1

Total House good bills passing House: 4; total Senate good bills passing Senate: 1

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