28 May 2014

Committee action, May 28: HB 1079, HB 695, HB 858, HB 956

HB 1079 by Rep. Tim Burns would require more detailed reporting of campaign expenditures. He had an amendment offered by the Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs that simplified the language to say a brief description of the expense was required. Example entries were prepared by the Board of Ethics that could be distributed to candidates and posted in the website. The amendment was offered and adopted.

Witnesses urged that the legislature’s own rules supplement the bill with more detail, who described it as a “tiny step forward.” The bill was reported favorably without objection.

HB 695 by Burns would allow the Board of Ethics to make informal inquiries into minor questions about a disclosure form, which its staff does not have the authority to be able to do currently, meaning that formal inquiries have to be launched over information that otherwise could be gathered much more easily. The panel discussed who the appropriate individuals connected to a campaign should be in order to receive such inquiries and answer them, and concluded because of the variety it should not be put into law. They agreed that either the filer or a person designated by him would be the relevant contact. Clarified with an amendment, they reported the bill favorably without objection.

HB 858 by Rep. Regina Barrow would require when more than 100 employees get laid off by a state agencies that legislators be notified before action can be taken. Sen. Mike Walsworth offered an amendment that would not make the notification required prior to the action, which he said would take care of situations where there was some threat to public safety by not removing the provision. Barrow was against it, so Walsworth withdrew it. He then asked to defer it involuntarily, and it was without objection.

HB 956 by Rep. Julie Stokes would attempt to codify pay equity for women in to Louisiana law. Sen. Greg Tarver asked a witness from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry why he supported this bill when others the group had rejected support, who responded that those brought in comparable worth consideration, the difference between “equal” and “similar.” Sen. Bob Kostelka asked why it was needed, if federal law covered it; he repeated and elaborated on the difference.

An opponent, who had supported those other bills, argued the bill didn’t go far enough and would confuse and distract from what she alleged were the real problems, claiming discrimination had to be present because the average wage of women compared to men on the basis of the same job names and factoring out nothing else was two-thirds of men’s, and said that the protections from abuse that Stokes argued were necessary were an impediment to that.

Chairman Jody Amedee asked whether the bill had enforcement teeth. He was told that by reading in the federal statute that improved that aspect. Sen. Edwin Murray also said this was the wrong approach, compared to the other bills. Tarver then moved to defer, but Walsworth moved by substitute to move favorably. That motion lost 3-4, and so it was deferred involuntarily.

I’m not a lawyer, I’m an undertaker. I bury my mistakes.
Tarver, during debate on one of several Burns’ campaign finance bills.

There are so many of you.
Tarver, asking Stokes about who she was, never having met her or recognized her, noting there are a lot more representatives than senators.

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