08 December 2006

Legislative second extraordinary session through Dec. 8

Welcome to coverage of the 2006 Second Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature. As in the past, this blog will identify the best and worst bills from the session from Dec. 8 to possibly Dec. 17, and periodically report on the committee and floor actions, and the ultimate fate, of these bills. Actually, almost all committee action is going to occur in the House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees given the nature of the session call, although some bills might end up heading straight to the floor. We’ll see what happens.

Note that in the list below that there are similar bills out there for some of these. If bills other than these but like them begin to move through the Legislature, they will be tracked instead of these, and identified at the time. Without further ado:

THE GOOD: Both by Rep. Pete Schneider, HB 9 and HB 10 would start reducing the unfunded accrued liabilities in the state’s pension funds. His HB 42 would abolish the duplicative and overly politicized Insurance Rating Commission. His HB 61 would cut income taxes for all except the lowest tax bracket. All by Rep. Taylor Townsend, HB 26, HB 27, HB 28, HB 29, and HB 30 would undo some tax deductions that once were but now are unavailable to Louisiana income taxpayers that are available for federal tax filers, on home mortgage interest points, some medical and dental expenses, some casualty and theft losses, for some charitable giving, with the last enabling all of it. His HB 66 and HB 67 would accelerate already planned tax cuts related to franchise fees for corporations and machinery purchases. HB 72 by Speaker Joe Salter would create the structure by which any 2005 insurance assessment paid by policyholders to offset losses incurred by the state-run insurer be reimbursed.

THE BAD: HB 21 by Rep. Charlie DeWitt would provide a subsidy by tax credit for the already-overproductive sugar cane industry. HB 31 by Rep. John Alario would include supplemental pay raises for public safety officers, but there is no guarantee that in the long term the state can afford these. His HB 89 creates a large set of funds in which to dump money most of which are unadvisable (such as creating a state-run catastrophe pool) and also tries to get around legal restrictions placed on recognizing surplus funds. HB 59 by Rep. Yvonne Dorsey makes a good idea bad by allowing a child tax credit of $50, but then allows those who don’t pay any taxes to collect it as an overpayment. HB 81 by Rep. Cedric Richmond would raise the minimum wage for state employees, forcing wages everywhere by artificial means thus stifling productivity. HB 109 by Rep. Juan LaFonta would encourage the state to compete against private insurers by not making the state-run insurer charge a higher rate.

SATURDAY: HB 31, 72, and 89 are scheduled to be heard by the House Appropriations Committee; HB 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 59 are scheduled to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee.

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