19 March 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Prefiled Senate bills -- Week of Mar. 18, 2006

Prefiling is over, which means each legislator can only file five more bills each. It also means a lot of duplication (32 so far for tightening restrictions for what purposes government can seize private property, for example). Here are bills prefiled in the Senate which duplicate in essence others mentioned in last week’s prefiled list: SB 18 (SB 150, SB 294), HB 116 (SB 271), and HB 44 (SB 410).

This week will review prefiled bills from then past week only in the Senate:

THE GOOD: SB 87 by Sen. Charles Jones would create closed primaries (open to independents, by option of the parties involved) for state elections (similar bill: SB 287). SB 175 by Sen. Willie Mount would prohibit any person appointed or elected to a board or commission within the executive branch of state government to serve in such position for more than three consecutive terms, and her SB 176 would do the same for constitutional state commissions. SB 235 by Sen. Max Malone would place limits on campaign contributions made by entities subject to regulation by the commissioner of insurance and public service commissioners to those officers. His SB 275 and companion SB 277 would remove the loophole that allows term-limited members of one house of the Legislature to immediately run for a seat in the other. SB 382 by Sen. Jay Dardenne prohibits gifts from lobbyists to elected officials and removes the cultural or sporting event ticket loophole that allows lobbyists to give these. SB 415 by Sen. Tom Schedler would create a commission that would speed transformation of long-term health care in Louisiana from an institutional bias to one emphasizing independent living. Regrettably, since the state won’t try to reduce its unfunded accrued liability for state retirement funds, SB 526 by Sen. Walter Boasso will make the state’s retirees take up some of the slack by increasing their contributions. SB 544 by Sen. Edwin Murray would get the Orleans Levee District out of the non-levee business by transferring those functions to New Orleans.

THE BAD: SB 69 by Sen. Ben Nevers would permit more government control over choices by businesses that should be left up to the marketplace, by forcing businesses (even nonprofits) to contribute a certain amount of money to employee health care. SB 98 by Sen. Derrick Shepherd does the same in reference to discrimination by “perceived” sexual orientation, which would include forcing religious organizations to follow the same (similar bill: SB 347). SB 166 by Jones would allow people who have not been positively identified as registered voters between certain dates to be given absentee ballots even if they did not request them, opening up tremendous fraudulent voting possibilities (similar bill: SB 291). His SB 167 also would discourage voter responsibility and create a logistical nightmare by allowing voters to show up at any polling place not their own and still be allowed to vote. SB 273 by Jones would undo term limits on members of the legislature. SB 278 by Sen. Cleo Fields would create same-day voter registration which would increase the possibility of voters not genuinely residents of a constituency to influence elections in that jurisdiction. His SB 280 would means-test the TOPS program, discriminating against academically-superior students just because their families are above the poverty level. Jones’ SB 293 and SB 301 would extend state elected officials’ terms a year without any compensation to the people such as including SB 275 and SB 277 as part of it (see above). Fields’ SB 433 and SB 437 attempt to make permanent and statewide the temporary legislation that removed ballot security provisions for the upcoming Orleans Parish election. His SB 439 would water down school accountability and education quality by forgoing any meaningful role that testing would have to motivate better performance out of students. SB 513 by Sen. Robert Barham allows legislators of long service, including those term-limited, after leaving office (voluntarily or otherwise) to jump on the gravy train of state health benefits. SB 602 by Murray provides a backdoor method to funnel more money to government by taxing telecommunications subscriber lines. SB 613 by Sen. Sherri Smith Cheek is a retry of her failed 2005 legislation that would make a matter of state law procedures that favor wasteful institutionalization-based rather than efficient community-based long-term health care. SB 625 by Sen. Clo Fontenot allows continuing the ridiculous practice of licensing of florists.

THE UGLY: SB 138 by Nevers wants to jack up the per diems received by members of the Tangipahoa Parish Planning Commission to a minimum of $60 a day and almost doubling the number of occasions they can get up to $100 a day to 28. This could increase the amount money a member gets seven-fold over a year. Why is this necessary? Ditto for SB 558 by Sen. Noble Ellington, which defines what “catfish” are. Ditto again for SB 573 by Sen. Nick Gautreaux which defines “Cajun” for commercial uses.

SCORECARD: This will be published next week after a review of all House bills prefiled ending Mar. 17 are reviewed.

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