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Legislative Session - June 1, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, June 03 2008 - 11:16 am

Hello from Baton Rouge

The big issue in Baton Rouge these days is funding- funding for programs-funding for departments-funding for anything and everything.  Each branch of government comes before our 11 person Finance committee and describes their departmental budget and details the changes in the budget from the previous year.  We also review cuts proposed by the administration as well as cuts by the House of Representatives.  After all the reviews are done we make our own recommendations as to cuts and additions.  The budget then goes back to the House and eventually to a conference committee for final tweaking.

My SB 133 which forces the Department of Agriculture to comply with the Public Bid law is on the Governor’s desk for signature.  What a process, and all to make a Department comply with a law which already exists.  If you see Commissioner Mike Strain thank him for his support of this piece of legislation.

Mandates continue to work their way through the legislature.  The latest to pass the senate was mandated prosthetics coverage.  Still to come is mandated coverage for autism.  As I said in previous updates these mandates are difficult issues for which there are no easy answers.  A statistic that is floating around is that for every $1/month increase in healthcare insurance premiums 20,000 Louisianans drop their coverage.  Every mandate increases the cost of healthcare. The people who drop their coverage because of the increased cost then go into our public hospital system for their healthcare needs.  What does that cost?

In committee I tried to strip Kevin Pearson’s amendment to require Tier II disclosure for local boards and commissions out of a bill. It failed by a vote of 3 to 2.  The reason I wanted to do that is because, to me, it makes no sense to have volunteers who agree to serve on a board showing the whole world their intimate financial details.  Local Boards and Commissions, under a bill by Danny Martiny, would fall under a Tier IV disclosure which essentially depicts any conflicts of interest.  I have received a lot of comments about this issue and if we are not successful in achieving some reasonable balance we will have wholesale resignations of volunteers currently serving on boards and commissions. The truth is that right now it is difficult to find good qualified people to sit on these boards and commissions.

I think the Shaw bill to repeal the Stelly tax is still on track and the indications are the governor will sign it.

You have not seen much about the legislative pay raises lately because Senator Duplessis does not have 20 votes in the senate and will not bring it up until she does.  One more week and it could well be a dead issue for this session.  You already know I am against this bill -It needs to just go away.

We are going into our 6th straight month of legislative sessions with little more than 3 weeks off.  Everyone is tired and you can sense weariness and frustration on the part of most legislators.  It has been a long time since we have been able to donate any time at all to our businesses.  My incredible partners Bob, Maura and John have done better without me – what does that say?