21 November 2005

Floor action, Nov. 21: SB 96, HB 42, SB 44, HB 9

An interesting dispute broke out between and within both houses regarding HB 42 and SB 96. In the House, the senate bill was asked to be made a duplicate of the house version but its author Rep. Billy Montgomery wanted to reject that, a move that in essence would kill that bill on time constraints. Rep. Troy Hebert, who called this the biggest issue of the session, supported the move because he said it would enable the bill to revert back to its original form where it left the House. He felt Sen. Derrick Shepherd, SB 96 sponsor, would be amenable to taking HB 42 as it had left the House.

The impasse was resolved when the Senate almost simultaneously took up HB 42. Shepherd, who had amendments to reshape this one into his, withdrew them and rather than the 3-day, $2,500 limit in the House, or the 6-day, $25,000 limit of the Senate, instead came up with a 4-day, $10,000 limit to the state sales tax exemption. Over in the House, the deed formally was finished when SB 96 got referred to committee.

This now meant the House had no vehicle to bargain with the Senate on this subject – the Senate could send back something to the House for it to accept or force into conference, but the House could not. At the same time, the Senate would have to risk that the House would accept the deal Shepherd said he and Montgomery had worked out if they approved it, as well as whether Gov. Kathleen Blanco would accept it in this form after signaling acquiescence for the House version.

Shepherd succeeded 25-10. The bill itself passed unanimously.

The Legislature seems to have decided upon Sen. Ken HollisSB 44 as the preferred vehicle by which to enact a uniform construction code. But being as a House committee grilled the House version HB 76 for a week, over a dozen amendments got offered to SB 44, several by HB 76 author Gil Pinac, and it made the HB 42 debate look like it was conducted at warp speed. The major concerns were the “one-size-fits-all” philosophy where the state code could overrule parish rules and the additional costs to build homes. It finally passed, after over three hours, 78-25. As a result, for scorecard purposes SB 44 will supplant HB 76.

One last stab was made at strengthening ethics reform with the Senate debate of HB 9. Sen. Jay Dardenne, after the previous day wanting to put a prohibition in law in committee, wanted to amend it to agree with the state ethics code in terms of a broader definition of “immediate” family for disclosure. Complaints again focused on the broadening would make legislators chase more people for information that would have to be disclosed and reported, even as Dardenne said the ethics code already demanded this and this should be consistent. This time, he carried the day 23-15 with Democrats divided and only a couple of Republicans voting against. And then it passed unanimously with all members present.

“What is the middle between 1 and 6?”
“Actually, 2, 3, 4 and 5”
Shepherd to Sen. Robert Adley, when Adley was trying to make the point that Blanco had supported a one-day tax holiday and the Senate had come up with the idea of six, so the House version of three would be in “the middle.”

“The tax holiday’s going to pass by the time we get through with this bill.”
Sen. Pres. Don Hines, as the HB 42 debate dragged on and on.

“I’m trying to figure out what we’re doing.”
“I don’t know.”
Hines in response to Sen. Don Cravins, who opined HB 42 wouldn’t do much of anything: “Who cares?”

Total House introductions: 168; total Senate introductions: 114.

Total House good bills: 4; total Senate good bills: 7.

Total House bad bills: 12; total Senate bad bills: 7.

Total House good bills heard in committee: 4; total Senate good bills heard in committee: 6.

Total House bad bills heard in committee: 10; total Senate bad bills heard in committee: 6

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

Total House bad bills passing committee: 5; total Senate bad bills passing committee: 2

Total House good bills passing House: 4; total Senate good bills passing Senate: 3

Total House bad bills passing House: 0; total Senate bad bills passing Senate: 1

Total House good bills heard in Senate committee: 4; Total Senate good bills heard in House committee: 1

Total House good bills passing Senate committee: 4; Total Senate good bills passing House committee: 5

Total House good bills passing Senate 3; Total Senate good bills passing House: 1

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