21 April 2014

House floor action, Apr. 21: HB 1262, HB 45, HB 237

HB 1262 by Rep. Barry Ivey would requiring provision information to women considering abortion about the procedure and options to encourage diversion of victims from human trafficking. He told the House that the cost to print the pamphlets would be negligible. Rep. Pat Smith contended even that cost might be too much for the Department of Health and Hospitals. When technical amendments were offered, she then asked whether English would be the only language in which these would be printed; Ivey said DHH could accommodate more languages. After the amendments were adopted without objection, the bill passed 80-10.

HB 45 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh would not permit those who are officers in teacher unions who do not work in the classroom would have retirement contributions from the state suspended into the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana and also others in health care who are employees in the private/nonprofit sector who have the state paying for their retirement, who are hired after a certain date. He said if this occurs through the four state systems, the state is on the hook for payment, even if the employers voluntarily pay for any unfunded accrued liability. Rep. Sam Jones kept asking him whether he knew this voluntary payment always has been made, but Seabaugh kept adding that these were not state employees and that the state should not be put in a position to pay retirement for people who are not employees of the state. Jones asked whether Seabaugh had voted for corporate welfare for sports teams in the state, which he said he didn’t know in which version of last year’s budget these were but he may have. Jones said he was looking for consistency from Seabaugh; Seabaugh said he was providing consistency in the treatment of state vs. non-state employees concerning retirement.

Upon questioning by Rep. Kevin Pearson, Seabaugh noted that any required or voluntary payment down of the UAL by the state also encompassed any UAL portion that would be paid by non-state employees, thus taxpayers paid for non-employees’ retirement of all entities that have a portion of the UAL. Rep. Ed Price asked what happened to union officials that then did not get retirement money, but Seabaugh pointed out they went on sabbatical and did not work for the state during their people. Price claimed as officials they still worked for state employees, but Seabaugh noted they actually worked for a private employer. Price, and then Smith, claimed it was a “witch hunt” against teachers. Rep. Kenny Cox said he wondered whether this would be a union-busting bill; Seabaugh said it included the health care employees which to his knowledge weren’t unionized.

Rep. Jack Montoucet then offered an amendment to apply the bill to all of the statewide systems, which the state does not pay into, saying that since the state regulated many aspects of these systems, why not this? Speaker Chuck Kleckley then entertained the question whether the amendment was germane, and said it was not because the amendment dealt with a different class of systems. Jones then put up an amendment to delete the health care employees, claiming the state never paid for the UAL of them. Rep. Frank Hoffman pressed him on that issue; Jones said whenever the state asked they paid their UAL portion. Seabaugh emphasized these employees were not state employees yet state taxpayers were on the hook for any contribution. The amendment was adopted 48-46.

Rep. Jim Morris wondered whether there was some wisdom in having allowed these people in the first place, and said he was “struggling with the fairness.” Jones then asserted the union officers were getting their UAL not paid by taxpayers, and said it was punitive.

Rep. Kenny Havard offered a bill to include charter school employees. But as Rep. Kirk Talbot pointed out, the state pays for charter school employees as they are state employees. The amendment failed 39-52.

Seabaugh closed by noting it removed people not working for the state having their retirement paid for by the state. After a quorum call, the bill failed 44-50.

HB 237 by Rep. Sherman Mack would remove the 70-year-old age limit on constables. He said you almost had to have some retired to do the job because nobody wanted to do it in rural districts. Rep. Austin Badon asked whether the state association representing constables supported it; Mack admitted they were against it. Badon asked whether it was wise to let armed elderly individuals perform these duties; Mack said some sheriff’s deputies served into their seventies.

Smith asked whether constables got into confrontations where they might need to use force, and Mack said while he knew of none it was a possibility. He said they act like civil processors in a sheriff’s department. Jones asked whether he would accept a higher age limit; Mack he was open to that. Rep. Steve Pylant then noted that as constables have the same powers as a sheriff, that they could exercise the same functions.

Badon then offered an amendment that would relegate the bill just to Mack’s Livingston Parish. Rep. Jeff Arnold asked how it could not be a local bill (which would have made it ineligible to be heard at this time) with that designation, because Kleckley clarified that judicial districts were not considered “local governments.” It was adopted without objection.

Mack closed, and the bill passed 63-26.

I can’t understand why anybody would work for a union.
Seabaugh, in response to Cox.
I’m going to be fair, and answer accurately.
Jones, during his amendment debate.

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