03 June 2008

Floor action, Jun. 3: HB 340, HB 939, HB 1224, HB 1273, HB 1341

HB 340 would require correction facilities wardens to meet the same ethics reporting qualifications as senior exeutive branch officials. Handling the bill after initially skipping it on the calendar, Sen. Don Cravins argued the powers that wardens had concerning contracting and budgeting and other matters made it logical that these officials fill out these kinds of reports.

Sen. Bill Cassidy offered an amendment to remove information required from wardens that could identify where they live, which was accepted without objection. Sen. Ben Nevers said the wardens’ boss already had to report and that should be good enough, while Sen. John Alario argued even with the Cassidy amendment that he still had concerns about the safety of wardens’ families. Cravins then consented to send the bill back to the calendar to work out amendments that might save a bill that appeared to be in trouble.

After a brief interval, more amendments came from Cassidy that would not disclose the spouse’s place of employ which were adopted without objection. Alario still was not satisfied and asked for a deferral of the bill. Sen. Mike Walsworth said these were civil servants who really did not depend on politics for their appointments and thus should not need to be covered by ethics requriemetns designed for political appointees.

Closing, Cravins said he believed in the bill and trusted the House supporters behind it. He claimed they are not typical state employees. He allowed Sen. Buddy Shaw to speak who said if reuirements were good enough for judges, it was good enough for wardens. The bill failed 7-26, but Cravins gave notice for reconsideration.

HB 939 would increase the salaries of members of the Public Service Commission. Amid laughter, it was returned to the calendar.

HB 1224 would place a moratorium on new home- and community-based service providers for two years, except for those that are part of residential facilities in certain low-serviced areas. It passed 38-0.

HB 1273 would have the state study cost-control mechanisms and promulgate rules to accomplish this for most Medicaid waiver programs. Input would be required from stakeholders including families being served. Alario asked handler Sen. Willie Mount about the bill’s language affirming that costs must be lowered might have an adverse impact on the quality of care. Alario also was concerned that the process had too little public and legislative input in the process, and in conjunction with a reduction of state developmental centers these seemed to be at loggerheads. Mount suggested amendments to resolve these.

Sen. Joe McPherson asked from where the bill came, and about the status of the state’s implementation of the Barthelemy case. Mount didn’t know, and McPherson wondered about how this bill was compatible with the case’s settlement which demands more provision of these waiver slots. Mount said implementation of uniform standards might make it a better process that might spend wisely and fulfill individual’s needs.

Alario sent up an amendment which would give the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to approve any rules adopted by the state, to safeguard needs of those affected. It was adopted without objection.

Mount added on closing a report on implementation of Barthelemy was forthcoming in June. The bill passed 37-0.

HB 1341 would install uniform minimum qualifications that would allow caregivers to serve under state waiver programs only if the state would issue a waiver that determines the family member would be the best person to serve the disabled individual, but grandfathers in exsiting family workers Alario asked to amend to push the effective date back to 2009. McPherson thought the amendment irrelevant if because of the grandfather provision and in fact by pushing the effective date forward six months would allow too many exceptions, and that it could allow unscrupulous relatives to slip into the exemption. Alario thought existing laws should take care of those unscrupulous people. McPherson argued that supervision of non-institutionalized care was lax so this could be a significant problem, and said since it was an administration bill he had to object. The amendment failed 13-18. The bill then passed 36-0.

“This bill increases the number of riverboats in the state to 45 and 5 machines each … y’all paying attention yet? I’ve passed a lot of bad stuff out of here today.”
Sen. Danny Martiny, joking during his presnetation of HB 1131 which would provide alternative ways of inspecting gaming riverboats.

WEDNESDAY: HB 988 and HB 1198 are scheduled to be heard by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee.

No comments: