28 April 2015

Committee action, Apr. 28: HB 534

HB 534 by Rep. Joseph Bouie would create regulation of any statewide cable franchise and put under the power of the Public Service Commission. He said to the House Commerce Committee that as the Federal Communications Commission now has declared internet service a utility, any franchising relying upon Internet delivery now should fall under the PSC.

Rep. Steven Ortego asked whether the Legislature would have any oversight if this became law. He was told that by statute it could direct the PSC, but regulations over the Internet, in terms of delivery video services, would now solely be directed by the PSC. Rep. Katrina Jackson noted that even as the Secretary of State has the ability to grant franchises statewide, there is no regulatory power and none is being done now. Ortego expressed concern that the bill was too open-ended in its power to regulate.

Opponents said the bill would undo provisions of legislative control established years ago. They said the bill was premature concerning the Internet and that the PSC would charge fees that would be passed through to consumers. Already much was reporting was being done to the FCC. The pointed out that the field was competitive and not indicative of a monopolistic business, yet the bill would impose regulation on just one sector of that.

Rep. Erich Ponti made a substitute motion after the close to defer voluntarily. That passed 14-3.

25 April 2015

Legislative regular session through Apr. 25, 2015

Bill filing ended this week, causing some additions to the list of good and bad bills:

THE GOOD: HB 788 by Rep. Jay Morris would create a flat individual tax and remove individual tax exceptions; HB 795 by Rep. Jim Fannin would attenuate the Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit (similar bill: HB 829); HB 827 by Rep. Cameron Henry would phase out corporate income taxes; HB 828 by Henry would phase out the corporate franchise tax.

THE BAD: HB 792 by Rep. Julie Stokes would increase taxes of a wasting kind but shunt the proceeds of this to prop up recurring expenses (similar bill: HB 794); HB 811 by Rep. Ebony Woodruff would create a needless tax; HB 820 by Rep. Sam Jones would discourage donations to schools; HB 825 by Rep. Taylor Barras would end up passing through taxes to owners that occasionally and episodically rent property; HB 831 by Morris would reduce spending flexibility; HB 832 by Rep. Tim Burns would expand spending on the Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit; SB 275 by Sen. Danny Martiny would reduce budgetary flexibility.

22 April 2015

Committee action, Apr. 22: HB 290, HB 189, HB 591, HB 131

HB 290 by Rep. Barbara Norton would extend time available for voting if there is a delay of at least 15 minutes at the beginning the voting day. She told the House and Governmental Affairs Committee that a kind of delay like that constitutes a denial of the right to vote, and it was not unreasonable to hold polls open later for this. She also curiously said the bill was somewhat internal contradictory.

Rep. Steve Pugh said with early voting extension, there really was no excuse not to vote, and that if polls opened late, there was no guarantee those who did not vote early could vote later in the day. Norton said regardless that not voting early in the day because polls opened late for some reason this was denial of voting for people.

Rep. Mike Danahay wondered whether those reporting were mistaken in that all but federal elections start at 7 AM and that machines were delivered the night before. Norton said in the instance she knew, it was a congressional election and machines were delivered to the wrong address. He also pointed out anybody in line at closing time 8 PM are allowed to vote. Norton said people’s schedule might not permit them to come by then. She said it was illegitimate to ask people to come back later.

18 April 2015

Regular legislative session through Apr. 18, 2015

First, while few new bills were introduced, almost all of them cracked the lists here:

THE GOOD: HB 779 by Rep. Erich Ponti would scale back further solar energy tax credits before their demise.

THE BAD: HB 777 by Rep. Karen St. Germain increases for a decade the tax on motor fuels sold at retail; HB 778 by St. Germain increases sales taxes for a decade for transportation spending.

12 April 2015

The Good, Bad, and Ugly -- 2015 prefiled regular session bills

Welcome as the Louisiana Legislature Log enters its second decade of service. It’s an election year, so anything can happen as far as legislation. And so with the prefiled versions we take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.