09 February 2006

Floor action, Feb. 9: SB 4, SB 16

Was the uncontroversial passing of SB 4 by Sen. Nick Gautreaux a prelude of the defeat of Sen. Walter Boasso’s SB 8 and SB 9? This bill would just get heads of levee districts together to communicate about matters, nothing more. Boasso and five other Republicans voted against it. Boasso then asked his bills for tabling since Sen. Jody Amedee was absent due to his daughter’s health. This shows that Boasso is scraping for every possible vote, which would require 26 affirmative votes. Stay tuned.

Sen. Charles Jones introduced his SB 16, saying it was largely the same as his attempt in the 2005 special session. He offered an amendment to match it to HB 12, passed earlier in the day in the House, which would allow those who registered in time for the 2004 national elections up until after Hurricane Rita hit that did so by mail to vote without positive identification.

Sen. Jay Dardenne, who voted against the bill in committee, questioned whether the affadavit provision that supporters claimed should reduce fraud would do so, and if (because a notary would be required for these voters) whether it constituted a poll tax. He said unless there’s a notary present, no legal perjury could occur. Gautreaux argued that the language, as he heard it in the House debate, would not require a notary, since that standard applied for students and military members in exiting law.

But Jones indicated the language was there on the backs of absentee ballots, and could not provide legal confirmation. Dardenne pointed out that those people had voted before in person. Jones said because they “intended” to vote in person until the hurricanes hit, this should not matter. Both amendments (date and affidavit) were adopted without objection.

Quinn said the bill granted special privilege to displaced people, relative to the military; the latter often got called away “intending” to vote in person yet no provisions ever have been made for them. Sen. Rob Marrionneaux said present law took care of those who just turned 18 and then got called away by the military or went off to college, and are granted an exception the first time. He accused opponents of using “scare tactics” by bringing up the issue.

Gautreaux claimed this bill gave displaced people the “right to vote.” He also blamed “conservative talk radio” for stirring up people, that the bill would give the same rights to the displaced as “wealthy people.” Sen. Reggie Dupre said Secretary of State Al Ater said a judge would retaliate if not passed.

Sen. Robert Adley argued that it was the choice of the voter to use a method that would require their presenting positive identification; the rules “cannot be changed in the middle of the game.” A number of supporters began to through all sorts of “what about” and “they didn’t expect” to try to dissuade Adley, but he remained firmly on message: those who took the extra effort to register with identification should be rewarded.

The bill passed 26-12. Five Republicans joined with the majority; two Democrats voted against it.

THE BAD: SB 51 and SB 52, both introduced by Sen. Willie Mount, would allow the state to incur massive debt in response to reduced state revenues. To do so would be riskier than cutting state spending. HB 93 by Rep. Bryant Hammett does the same thing when combined with Hammett’s HB 90.

“I’m all leveed out.”
Boasso, testifying in the House after 9 PM about HB 84, passage of which would help pave the way for his SB 8 and SB 9 passing.

FRIDAY: HB 14 is scheduled to be heard by the House and Governmental Affairs Committee; HB 50 and HB 51 are scheduled to be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee; SB 51 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee.

Total House introductions: 99; total Senate introductions: 56.

Total House good bills: 13; total Senate good bills: 2.

Total House bad bills: 12; total Senate bad bills: 4.

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

Total House bad bills heard in committee: 3; total Senate bad bills heard in committee: 1.

Total House good bills passing committee: 1; total Senate good bills passing committee: 2.

Total House bad bills passing committee: 3; total Senate bad bills passing committee: 1.

Total House good bills passing the House: 1; total Senate good bills passing the Senate: 0.

Total House bad bills passing the House: 1; total Senate bad bills passing the Senate: 1.

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