09 June 2010

Committee action, Jun. 9: HB 1474, SB 596

HB 1474 would prevent Louisiana residents from being forced to buy health insurance. Author Rep. Kirk Talbot said this was a continuation of the previous week’s debate, and he and supporters made almost no comments about it to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

Opponents did want to speak extensively. They claimed a mandate was necessary, the bill would not improve health care coverage, and it was a political tool against Pres. Barack Obama. They also claimed dramatic benefits would occur with the implementation of Obama’s plan, even though the bill doesn’t affect any of this.

Talbot said he disagreed with much of what had just been said, and asked for passage. Sen. Karen Peterson asked for a substitute for deferral. Republicans Sens. Dale Erdey and Sherri Cheek voted against, joined by Democrats Sens. David Heitmeier and Ben Nevers. Other Democrats Peterson and Sens. Yvonne Dorsey, Butch Gautreaux, and Joe McPherson voted affirmative, leaving Democrat Chairman Willie Mount to break the tie, against the motion. On the vote for passage, voting went the opposite way and it passed 5-4.

SB 596 by Sen. Sharon Weston Broome would create as official chamber leadership positions a majority and minority leader. She said it would enhance policy-making by providing positions responsible for this, and present additional opportunities for leadership.

Chairman Bob Kostelka of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee wanted to know how selection would occur. Broome said that could be made part of the institution’s rules or within the parties themselves. He also wanted to know what would happen to independents. She said she really was not concerned with them with the bill, but did not think they’d be cut out of the policy-making process.

Sen. Mike Walsworth asked where she thought this would go from here. Broome was not specific although, as she noted to remarks to Sen. Dan Claitor, other states presented a variety of potential duties for these officers. Claitor was somewhat suspicious of the idea of party leaders, as he asserted it didn’t work well and was divisive. Broome said in essence Louisiana, through its caucuses, already had such leaders, so why not institutionalize them?

Sen. Rob Marionneaux said he was concerned about non-party members, who in registration totals were fast-growing, and he thought this would create divisiveness, and promised a move to defer. Broome said perhaps the bill could be amended to include them somehow, and defended again that she didn’t see any divisiveness additionally, that a mere title would not change collegial attitudes or promote adversarial ones. She also said this could lead to greater legislative independence. Marionneaux said leaders don’t need titles.

Sen. Edwin Murray said the bill should be moved now as almost everybody was affiliated in the body with the two major parties, so let her get on with it. Marionneaux then moved to defer, to which Murray objected. Murray and Walsworth voted against joined by Sen. Lydia Jackson, but Marionneaux and Claitor with Sens. Jack Smith and Jack Donahue voted with them to provide the winning margin. Broome remarked she would be addressing the outcome that afternoon on a point of personal privilege.

We'll hear from .... the King of Bologna …
Mount, ribbing former Sen. now Rep. Noble Ellington who had come to testify.

That was an understatement.
Marionneaux about his defeated SB 432 which the previous day had gone down 31-6 in the Senate; Broome had exhorted him to accept “change” as he had articulated then when debating the merits of his bill even though he was not “successful.”

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