CATS bill passed by committee

A Louisiana House panel advanced Thursday legislation that would remove Baton Rouge Metro Council’s veto power over changes in fares, routes, schedules or other Capital Area Transit System operations.

The House Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs committee voted 13-3 for House Bill 865 sponsored by state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge. It now goes to the full House for consideration.

HB865 would also impose new qualifications for the CATS Board of Commissioners.

“I’m looking to make this system better,” said Barrow.

The Capital Area Transit System, called CATS), is considering route expansions and other changes if a property tax on the April 21 ballot passes. Bill proponents said the changes proposed would complement the tax increase proposal.

Today, the Metro Council has veto power over CATS board recommendations because of a $3 million taxpayer investment that has helped keep the bus system running.

Allowing CATS to control operations is “best practices,” said the Rev. Raymond Jetson, who chaired a blue ribbon transition commission.

“Following best practices the city-parish would no longer invest $3 million in the system but as a trade-off that veto authority would be removed,” Jetson said.

Woody Jenkins, chairman of the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party, and Elizabeth Dent and Alex Velasquez, both with Tax Busters, opposed the legislation.

Jenkins said CATS is not being well-run today. He argued that keeping veto power over CATS board actions with the Metro Council “is the only way the public has to be involved in the process.”

Voters in Baton Rouge, Zachary and Baker will go to the polls April 21 to vote on a 10-year, 10.6-mill tax proposal to fund CATS. The vote will occur separately in each of the jurisdictions. The proposed tax is projected to raise $16.7 million in Baton Rouge, $636,000 in Baker and $1.1 million in Zachary.

 

House panel OKs special unit for low level offenders

A Louisiana House committee embraced legislation Thursday that would expand a New Orleans inmate mentoring program to East Baton Rouge and St. Tammany parishes.
House Bill 521 by state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, would allow judges to assign relatively low level offenders to a special unit at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
For offenders, the program would offer less time behind bars as long as several stipulations are met, including learning a trade from inmates serving life sentences.
“We think this is a silver bullet,” Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Laurie A. White told the House Committee on Judiciary.

Recall effort launched over public education revamp

Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley have become targets of recall efforts as a result of Jindal’s controversial proposed public education revamp.
“We are just fed up,” said Calcasieu Parish teacher Angie Bonvillain, one of the five veteran classroom teachers who started the grassroots recall effort.
Bonvillain said no one is listening to teachers who know more about what’s needed to improve public education than Jindal and others ramrodding the changes through the Legislature.
“When they would not listen, after repeated emails and phone calls, we became frustrated, especially when we’re the ones who voted them into the office they presently hold,” Bonvillain said.
“We agree that reform is needed, but we do not agree that the reform should come about by gutting present-day public schools,” she said.
The recall drives come as Jindal and legislative leaders continue to fast-track legislation that seeks to end teacher tenure as it is currently structured and move taxpayer dollars from public education into subsidies to send children attending failed public schools to private and parochial schools.
Asked if he were concerned about the recall effort Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, did not directly address the question.
“It’s not about me. It’s about the children of the state of Louisiana. It’s about improving education in the state,” Kleckley said.
Recall organizers face a high hurdle on getting sufficient signatures on petitions required to force recall elections, especially when a statewide elected official is involved.
No one has ever successfully gathered enough signatures to get a recall election against a statewide or parishwide official in Louisiana.
Petitions in the case of Jindal must be signed by one-third of the state’s 2.86 million registered voters within 180 days.
In the case of Kleckley, organizers must get the signatures of one-third of the registered voters in his election district. According to the elections website, there are about 28,000 registered voters in Kleckley’s district.
Bonvillain is chairman of the Jindal recall effort. Brenda Romero is chairman of the Kleckley drive. Romero did not respond to requests for interview.
“The recall petition  has taken on a life of its own. It no longer is a local effort. It is statewide at this time,” Bonvillain said. “We could not have expected the reaction or the number of people who have materialized that are willing to put in their own time to see us succeed.”
Bonvillain said recall organizers are working with a media consultant who is advising the group on “how to spread the word and get the signatures.”
“The reaction has bene so huge and so positive that we have trouble keeping copies of the petition on hand. People are calling us at home in the evenings to drop by to sign, pick up petitions to pass out themselves, and have offered support in many other ways, including financial help,” Bonvillain said.
No only teachers are signing the petitions, Bonvillain said. “There are other groups who are disgruntled with the governor and the legislators,” she said.
Bonvillain said the group has a central point for petition collection and will soon have a post office box so people can mail petitions in. A website is also under construction where people can get information and download a copy of the petition.
Jindal has been a prior target of recall efforts. The new one is the sixth effort to try to oust him.
The first efforts came over his initial refusal to veto legislation that would have doubled legislators’ base pay approved during the 2008 regular legislative session. Jindal had been subject of angry criticism by bloggers, callers and emailers as well as protests over his stance. He ultimately vetoed the legislation after promising legislators he’d sign it if they approved it. The recall petition effort died.
In 2011, a recall drive launched by Ron Ceasar, of Opelousas, fizzled. The full-time doctorate student at Southern University said he was angry with cuts levied on public colleges and health-care services in Louisiana.

Senate panel OKs Jindal education package

One of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature public school bills moved within one step of final approval Thursday afternoon when a state Senate panel approved it.

The measure, House Bill 974, would make it harder for public school teachers to earn and keep a form of job protection called tenure.

It was approved by the Senate Education Committee without objection and next faces action on the Senate floor.

The bill was endorsed by the Louisiana House last week.

During committee debate no amendments were added to the bill.

If the full Senate approves the unamended measure without any changes, the measure would go to Jindal for his signature into law.

Any changes would require the proposal to return to the House, which backed the plan 64-40.

Under the bill, current teachers who are rated as ineffective would lose their tenure and could face dismissal proceedings.

New teachers would have to be rated as highly effective – in the top 10 percent statewide – for five out of six years to earn tenure.

Jindal and other backers contend the changes are needed to ensure top-flight teachers in every classroom.

“I am asking you to do what is right for children,” said state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the bill in his closing comments to the committee.

Opponents say that, while the state’s tenure laws may need tweaking, wholesale changes make no sense now.

“No other state, not one, is going down this path,” said Michael Walker-Jones, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators, a teachers’ union that opposes the bill.

When the Senate will debate the bill is unclear.

The committee is now debating the governor’s other key public school bill.

It would expand eligibility for some students to move from struggling public schools to private and parochial schools using state dollars.

 

THURSDAY AT THE LEGISLATURE

House convenes at 9:00 a.m.

Senate convenes at 9:00 a.m.

HOUSE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Agriculture. At adjournment in Committee Room 3. Agenda includes:

HB109 Repeals provisions relative to the production and marketing of livestock.

HB110 Changes the name of a certain animal disease.

HB152 Provides relative to cotton merchant licenses.

HB153 Provides for an organic certification cost-share rebate program.

HB171 Provides relative to the regulations on sale of fertilizers.

HB176 Clarifies the minimum deficiency assessment and inspection fee for commercial feeds.

HB177 Provides for a tonnage fee for agricultural liming materials.

Judiciary. At adjournment in Committee Room 1. Agenda includes:

HB16 Authorizes an increase in court costs for municipal ordinance violations in the mayor’s court in the town of Sterlington.

HB24 Relative to the payment of group insurance premiums for retired sheriffs and employees of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.

HB37 Provides for additional court costs for the Lockport Mayor’s Court.

HB67 Provides relative to payment of group insurance premiums for retired sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the Winn Parish Sheriff’s Office.

HB78 Provides relative to the administration of the Livingston Parish Retired Employees’ Insurance Fund.

HB101 Authorizes an increase in fees or court costs for the 21st Judicial District Court.

HB352 Creates a fund to pay group insurance premiums for retired sheriffs and deputy sheriffs in DeSoto Parish.

HB402 Relative to the 21st Judicial District Court’s Judicial Expense Fund.

HB503 Provides for jurisdiction with respect to certain traffic violations.

HB521 Expands the workforce development sentencing program to include additional judicial districts.

HB685 Provides procedures for the investigation of officers and employees by the NOPD.

HB721 Provides for a fee paid to the attorney general from tobacco product manufacturers for certification.

HB873 Authorizes the Traffic Court of New Orleans to exercise appellate jurisdiction in de novo appeals for violations from a traffic camera citation.

HB953 Provides relative to the consolidation of courts in Orleans Parish.

HB960 Authorizes additional court costs for criminal matters in the 12th Judicial District Court.

HB1006 Provides relative to the payment of insurance premiums for retirees of the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office.

HCR41 Designates the city of Scott as the Boudin Capital of the World.

 

Labor & Industrial Relations. At adjournment in Committee Room 5. Agenda includes: 2012 Workers’ Compensation Study by Percy and Company

HB298 Provides with respect to provider communication in workers’ compensation claims.

HB360 Provides for a reemployment and training fund for injured employees.

HB498 Provides for access to data from workers’ compensation insurers for fraud detection.

HB539 Provides with respect to the La. Workforce Investment Council.

HB572 Provides with respect to suitable jobs for disabled employees.

HB669 Provides with respect to the monetary limit for prior authorization for medical treatment.

HB737 Provides with respect to death benefits to living descendants.

HB931 Provides for employer reporting of injury data.

 

Municipal, Parochial & Cultural Affairs. At adjournment in Committee Room 6. Agenda includes:

HB131 Provides relative to public hearings held by municipal governing authorities regarding zoning regulations and restrictions.

HB145 Creates the North Kenilworth Improvement and Security District in Orleans Parish.

HB181 Increases the membership of the governing board of the Beauregard Parish Fire Protection District No. 2.

HB217 Provides relative to per diem paid to members of the governing board of the Tangipahoa Parish Sewerage District No. 1.

HB250 Provides relative to the Concordia Economic and Industrial Development District.

HB252 Provides relative to the Broadmoor Crime Prevention and Improvement District in East Baton Rouge Parish.

HB254 Creates the Gentilly Terrace and Gardens Security District in Orleans Parish.

HB256 Provides relative to per diem paid to members of the governing board of the Concordia Parish Hospital Service District No. 1.

HB309 Creates the Park Forest Crime Prevention and Improvement District in East Baton Rouge Parish.

HB320 Provides relative to the disposition of surplus library books by the Calcasieu Parish Library.

HB334 Provides relative to the records and subpoena powers of certain local ethics entities.

HB430 Authorizes the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to purchase adjudicated properties located within its territorial jurisdiction from political subdivisions of the state.

HB456 Relative to revision of local government laws pursuant to HCR No. 218 of the 2009 R.S., repeals certain obsolete or ineffective provisions.

HB579 Provides relative to the official working language and certain designations of the Council for the Development of French in La.

HB629 Provides relative to the powers of the board of commissioners of the Capital Area Transit System.

HB640 Re-creates the Dept. of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

HB831 Relative to the exclusion of certain contractors from bidding on public projects.

HB865 Provides for membership, qualifications, procedure for appointment, appointment of new members, and powers and duties of the board of commissioners of the Capital Area Transit System.

HB975 Provides relative to the governing board of the Lake Barrington Subdivision Improvement District.

HB998 Provides relative to investments by political subdivisions.

HCR46 Requests that state agencies, when translating information from English to French, make every effort to make such translations using La. French.

 

Retirement. At adjournment in Committee Room 4. Agenda includes:

HB5 Provides relative to meetings of state and statewide retirement system boards and committees.

HB19 Relative to the Teachers’ Retirement System of La.

HB20 Provides for the payment of benefits to retired members of the Teachers’ Retirement System of La. who are rehired as adjunct professors.

HB27 Provides relative to retirement and payment of retirement benefits in the Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System.

HB29 Provides relative to the payment of disability benefits for members of the Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System.

HB38 Provides relative to certain rehired retirees.

HB39 Provides relative to federal tax qualification requirements for the Firefighters’ Retirement System.

HB41 Provides relative to the federal tax qualification status of the system.

HB50 Provides relative to the Assessors’ Retirement Fund.

HB58 Provides relative to the District Attorneys’ Retirement System.

 

SENATE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Education. At adjournment in John J. Hainkel, Jr. Room. Agenda includes:

HB974 Provides relative to teacher tenure, pay-for-performance, and evaluations.

HB976 Provides relative to the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program, parent petitions for certain schools to be transferred to the RSD, charter school authorizers, and course providers.

SB412 Authorize colleges and universities to enter into property leases with Louisiana businesses to be located in areas designated as a business incubator or research park.

 

Labor & Industrial Relations. At adjournment in Committee Room C. Agenda includes:

SB158 Provides whistleblower protection to employees who report the sexual abuse of minors.

SB217 Provides relative to discrimination regarding certain public contracts including the limitation of categories for nondiscrimination purposes.

SB367 Provides for medical examinations in workers’ compensation cases.

SB386 Provides for payment of medical benefits within 30 days rather than 60 days contingent upon medical providers’ adoption and utilization of electronic billing rules and regulations.

 

Local & Municipal Affairs. At adjournment in Committee Room F. Agenda includes:

SB60 Provides relative to the payment of certain insurance premium costs for certain retired assessors and assessors’ employees in Caldwell and Lincoln parishes.

SB80 Provides for the powers of the chief of police of Youngsville.

SB178 Renames the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist and Film Commission to the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission.

SB312 Provides that the position of assistant police chief, relative to the towns of Broussard, Carencro, Scott and Youngsville, shall be in the unclassified service.

SB361 Provides relative to 9-1-1 fees for the Orleans Communication District.

SB447 Authorizes municipalities to enact ordinances relative to the maintenance of property by owners and seizing creditors.

SB491 Changes references of legislative districts, having appointing authority, for entities in Orleans Parish.

SB496 Provides relative to the authority of the chief of police for the city of Kaplan and the position of assistant to the chief of police.

SB512 Streamlines the procedure by which municipalities and parishes create neighborhood security districts.

SB585 Provides for cleanup and removal of abandoned structures in certain parishes.

 

Natural Resources. At adjournment in Committee Room A. Agenda includes:

SB257 Provides relative to the leasing of certain lands for hydrokinetic energy development.

SB289 Authorizes the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to assist the Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District.

SB341 Provides relative to firearm and hunter education.

SB387 Provides for the positive evidence of sex identification of deer and turkey.

SB436 Requires the Sabine River Authority to obtain approval for out of state water sales by the governing authorities of each parish in its territory.

SB495 Revises the membership and powers and duties of the Ground Water Resources Commission.

SB502 Requires annual reports from certain special districts regarding its groundwater resources.

SB583 Authorizes the Department of Health and Hospitals to transfer certain state property in Lincoln Parish to Grambling State University.

 

Transportation, Highways, & Public Works. At adjournment in Committee Room E. Agenda includes:

SB138 Provides relative to special permits for vehicles hauling sugarcane.

SB287 Provides for fair treatment for materials produced, manufactured, or fabricated in Louisiana used in public works.

SB523 Provides relative to the funding of the Algiers Levee District and the Orleans Levee District from tax proceeds.

SCR35 Requests DOTD study the feasibility and costs to provide adequate lighting and needed maintenance on bridges on the state highway system over the Mississippi River..

SCR38 Requests that DOTD study feasibility of authorizing the collection of tolls to complete I-49 South..

 

Legislative news at it happens, including supporting documents, available on the Internet at  http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/

Hearings and debate streamed live on the Internet at www.legis.la.gov

 

Term limit bills advance

A state House panel endorsed two term-limits measures Wednesday morning, one aimed at school board members and the other statewide elected officials.

The House and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 5-3 for “local option” legislation under which voters would decide whether they want to limit school board members in their parish to three consecutive four year terms.

Exempt under House Bill 292 would be Jefferson and Lafayette parish school boards which already operate under term limits, the Recovery School District and the governing authority of any charter school.

A short time later the same panel voted 6-1 to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that would set a cap of three consecutive four year terms on statewide elected officials other than the governor. The constitution already limits the governor to two consecutive terms.

The legislation would cover the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, commissioner of agriculture and commissioner of insurance. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne supported the measure, House Bill 390.

Both proposals would be on the Nov. 8 statewide election ballot if they win final approval.

 

Bill would toughen penalties for criticizing veterans

Vietnam War veteran Jim Craig, of Monroe, told legislators Wednesday that he was spit upon when he returned home from his tour of duty.

“(We were) called baby killers,” Craig said to the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice in support of legislation to toughen penalties against people who target servicemen and disabled veterans.

The panel advanced House Bill 18 to subject the attackers to at least a year behind bars.

The legislation sparked lengthy debate.

State Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, said a simple bar fight can turn ugly and lead to charges that follow a person for the rest of his life.

“Let’s just not do things for the sake of doing it,” he said.

An amendment to the bill appeased many committee members.

The change would force prosecutors to prove that the attacker should have known the victim was a member of the military or a disabled veteran and that the battery was committed as a result of that knowledge.

Bill to cap TOPS crushed in committee

Legislation that would impose a cap on TOPS scholarships was crushed Wednesday morning in the House Education Committee.

The measure, House Bill 294, failed 4-12.

State Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Napoleonville and sponsor of the bill, said the aid needs to be capped at $1,600 per semester, which he said would save $55 million in the first year.

Harrison said the move is needed because of rising costs of TOPS, and because of what he called an excessive number of students with TOPS who flunk out of four-year schools.

“Our losses are substantial,” Harrison said.

Opponents said the move would endanger a program that has improved academic rigor in high schools, and helped raise the average score on the ACT, which is a test of college readiness.

“This is not an expense, it is an investment the state makes in its future,” Cody Wells, president of the LSU Student Government Association, told the committee.

“Without this program I would not be here in the state of Louisiana,” Wells told lawmakers.

The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students provides the cost of tuition and some fees to high school graduates who achieve certain grade-point averages and standardized test scores.

TOPS requires students to graduate from high school with at least a 2.5 grade point average – on a 4.0 scale – in a core set of academic courses.

The student also must score a 20 – out of a possible 36 – on the ACT, or an SAT equivalent.

Louisiana is spending $154 million on TOPS this academic year.

Harrison said some students who qualify for TOPS with a 20-22 on the ACT would be better served, and save the state money, by attending a community college.

He said Georgia and other states have more stringent rules for state aid similar to TOPS.

“We can’t continue to pay for failure,” Harrison told the panel.

“I’ve been beating this drum for four years,” he said. “Allow me to get this to the floor so we can have the full discussion.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration opposed the bill.

Stafford Palmieri, policy director for the governor, called TOPS an “incredible asset” for the state and one that has helped improve ACT scores.

Tuesday at the Louisiana Legislature

 

House convenes at 3:00 p.m.

Senate convenes at 2:00 p.m.

 

HOUSE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Criminal Justice. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 6. Agenda includes:

HB18 Increases penalties for certain crimes of battery when committed on U.S. servicemen and disabled veterans.

HB48 Creates the crime of theft of copper and other metals.

HB64 Prohibits the false personation of a firefighter.

HB90 Authorizes the issuance of search warrants upon electronic testimony.

HB96 Creates the crime of online impersonation.

HB119 Provides relative to the assessment and collection of certain parole and probation fees.

HB121 Revises provisions of law regarding conditions of parole.

HB122 Allows DPS&C to house certain persons prior to conviction or sentencing under certain circumstances.

HB231 Prohibits the sale of dogs or cats at certain public locations.

HB271 Amends provisions of law regarding inspection of riverboats.

HB432 Repeals the statutory authority for the La. Risk Review Panel.

HB447 Removes antiquated references to the Riverboat Gaming Commission.

HB512 Prohibits any admission to criminal conduct made during an administrative sanction proceeding from being introduced as evidence.

HB616 Creates the crime of filing a false lien against a court or law enforcement officer.

HB744 Provides for an additional fine for certain persons who commit the crime of identity theft.

HB836 Provides relative to the appearance by the Board of Pardons at certain sentencing hearings.

HB980 Provides relative to warrants for arrest on indictments or bills of information.

HB984 Expands the scope of restitution recoverable from offenders housed in local correctional facilities.

HB994 Provides with respect to the calculation of the “good time” diminution of sentence for certain offenders.

 

Education. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 1. Agenda includes: Presentation on annual “State of Public Education in Louisiana” report from representatives of the Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives

HB137 Provides that veterans shall be entitled to resident classification for tuition amount purposes at La. public colleges and universities.

HB140 Provides that a veteran having a service-connected disability shall be entitled to resident classification for tuition amount purposes at La. public colleges and universities.

HB294 Establishes for a specified period of time a maximum dollar amount for a TOPS award.

HB435 Provides scholarship opportunities to certain military veterans.

HB926 Specifies circumstances under which an award applicant’s ACT/SAT test score can be submitted to and considered by the TOPS administering agency after statutorily established submission deadlines.

HB945 Extends TOPS eligibility for certain students who reenlist in the U.S. Armed Forces and maintain continuous active duty.

HB946 Extends TOPS eligibility for certain students who reenlist in the U.S. Armed Forces and maintain continuous active duty.

SB581 Provides for the La. Early Childhood Education Act.

 

Health & Welfare. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 5. Agenda includes:

HB17 Provides relative to prohibitions on employment by certain health care providers of licensed ambulance personnel and nonlicensed persons who are convicted of certain criminal offenses.

HB156 Provides for requirements of educational services within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

HB224 Provides relative to enforcement of child support by income assignment.

HB227 Provides with respect to child support enforcement.

HB326 Authorizes certain health professionals to execute an emergency certificate for admission to a treatment facility of a minor suffering from mental illness or substance abuse.

HB362 Requires automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in high schools that participate in interscholastic athletics.

HB481 Clarifies state law regarding unemployment insurance collections relative to child support overpayments to align with federal law.

HCR5 Continues the Task Force on Legal Representation in Child Protection Cases.

 

House & Governmental Affairs. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 2. Agenda includes:

HB89 Provides relative to public access to public collective bargaining sessions and related documents.

HB178 Extends confidentiality to any proprietary or trade secret information submitted for economic development purposes.

HB208 Extends sunset for confidentiality of company information submitted to the Dept. of Economic Development.

HB292 Requires local option elections in local school districts on term limits for school board members.

HB390 Provides term limits for certain statewide elected officials.

HB511 Provides for the application of the Public Records Law to certain records relative to archeological dig sites.

HB699 Provides that certain electronic mail addresses obtained through certain corporate and association filings are confidential.

HB792 Requires public meetings of local governing authorities and school boards to be broadcast live on public access channels.

HB811 Requires employers to grant leave to employees who are local elected officials and provides for the effect of such leave.

HB875 Provides relative to certain actions taken by certain nongovernmental entities and their governing bodies.

HB949 Provides relative to meetings of public bodies.

 

Insurance. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 3. Agenda includes:

HB94 Re-creates the Dept. of Insurance.

HB150 Clarifies the minimum capital and surplus requirements for health maintenance organizations.

HB154 Provides relative to policy refunds.

HB160 Requires certain additional insurers to pay an annual financial regulation fee assessed by the commissioner of insurance.

HB193 Provides relative to compensation of personnel employed by the commissioner of insurance to conduct examinations of insurers.

HB229 Authorizes domestic insurers to invest in certain master limited partnerships.

HB304 Changes the length of the Bail Bond Apprenticeship Program in the Dept. of Insurance.

HB308 Repeals provisions relative to unfair trade practices involving automobile insurance.

HB359 Provides relative to the section of insurance fraud within the Dept. of Insurance.

HB492 Provides relative to reinstatement of property insurance policies.

HB513 Provides relative to the Bail Bond Apprentice Program within the Dept. of Insurance.

HB564 Provides relative to prompt payment of long-term care insurance claims.

HB569 Clarifies terms relative to duties to report insurance fraud.

HB595 Provides for technical recodification of certain provisions of the La. Insurance Code.

HB634 Provides relative to certain fees for health maintenance organizations.

 

Natural Resources & Environment. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 4. Agenda includes: Presentations by Dept. of Environmental Quality, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Dept. of Natural Resources, Chenier Energy

HB111 Authorizes the transfer of state land to the city of Eunice.

HB143 Authorizes the transfer of property in Lafourche Parish to the Greater Lafourche Port Commission.

HB346 Provides for an exchange of property in Ouachita Parish.

HB571 Provides that one of the appointees of the La. Police Jury Association serving on the Atchafalaya Basin Promotion and Research Board be a voting member.

HB809 Authorizes the sale of land in East Feliciana Parish.

HB864 Provides relative to the removal or demolition of encroachments on state water bottoms.

HCR31 Approves the Atchafalaya Basin Annual Plan for FY 2012-2013.

 

SENATE COMMITTEE MEETINGS

Commerce. 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room E. Agenda includes:

SB124 Exempts the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy from the limitations on disciplinary proceedings by professional or occupational boards and commissions.

SB163 Provides relative to securities.

SB175 Provides relative to unauthorized acts of certain persons regulated by the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission.

SB210 Requires Louisiana Public Service Commission to promulgate rules and regulations regarding unrequested commercial text messages and third-party charges to the consumer for certain text message solicitations.

SB326 Requires the commissioner of the office of financial institutions to compile certain information from licensees under the Louisiana Deferred Presentment and Small Loan Act.

SB334 Provides for legislative members to the State Board of Commerce and Industry.

SB426 Extends confidentiality to any proprietary or trade secret information submitted for economic development purposes.

SB449 Provides relative to privileged bank documents.

SB516 Provides that persons with ownership interest in certain business entities be notified before changes are made in the records of the secretary of state.

 

Health & Welfare. 9:30 a.m. in John J. Hainkel, Jr. Room. Agenda includes:

SB61 Authorizes the secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals to issue stop order rules on certain dangerous substances.

SB83 Provides relative to Polysomnographic Practice Act and individuals and practices exempted from its provisions.

SB112 Authorizes sharing of prescription monitoring program information with prescription monitoring programs located in other states.

SB115 Provides for immediate suspension of a license for a psychiatric hospital.

SB195 Adds phenazepam to the list of Schedule I controlled dangerous substances.

SB196 Adds Ezogabine as a Schedule V controlled dangerous substance.

SB227 Creates the Money-Follows-the-Person Initiative.

SB327 Provides that hospitals offer certain immunizations to inpatients 65 years of age or older.

SB614 Provides relative to need-based claims requirements as determined by the Louisiana Military Family Assistance Board.

 

Insurance. 9:00 a.m. in Committee Room A. Agenda includes:

SB139 Provides an exception to the choice of insurer provision for certain consumer leases.

SB167 Provides for portable electronics insurance policies.

SB204 Includes Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation among the entities exempt from furnishing bonds in judicial proceedings.

SB205 Lowers the minimum capital and surplus requirement for captive insurers from one million dollars to five hundred thousand dollars and removes the prohibition from providing workers’ compensation and employee liability insurance.

SB230 Clarifies definitions and company-action level events relative to risk-based capital for domestic insurers.

SB231 Provides relative to prior authorization forms.

SB233 Provides for use of a parish address as the major geographic factor in writing automobile insurance.

SB242 Provides relative to bail bond license fees in the Criminal District Court of the Parish of Orleans.

SB311 To provide relative to the payment and adjustment of insurance claims and the good faith duty and claims settlement practices.

SB345 Provides with respect to dental service contractors.

SB459 Provides for uninsured motorist coverage for guest passengers.

SB559 Requires proof of financial responsibility and notice of cancellation or termination to be submitted electronically.

 

Senate & Governmental Affairs. 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room F. Agenda includes:

SB107 Provides for consistency of presentation of political party affiliations on voter identification cards, notices of candidacy, voter registration cards and precinct registers.

SB129 Provides certain reporting requirements for all public officials regarding scholarships awarded at Louisiana’s colleges and universities..

SB135 Changes the dates for certain municipal and parochial elections.

SB159 Authorizes certain personnel in office of the state inspector general to be duly commissioned law enforcement officers.

SB186 Provides that any person who is appointed to fill a vacancy in an elected office shall not be eligible to be a candidate for election to that office.

SB253 Provides for the office of the inspector general to employ its own legal counsel and obtain legal counsel from the attorney general.

SB304 Names the new UMC/LSU Hospital in New Orleans the “Reverend Avery C. Alexander Hospital.”

SB410 Constitutional amendment to establish certain requirements prior to legislatively creating certain special districts.

SB417 To provide relative to qualifying for an election for certain candidates.

SB493 Requires the secretary of state to include the email addresses of candidates and elected officials on the department database.

SB552 Requires certain state departments to develop and submit annual reports providing statistics on women by race and ethnic groups.

SB591 Authorizes the creation of the Interest On Candidate Contributions Trust Account program.

 

Legislative news at it happens, including supporting documents, available on the Internet at  http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/

Hearings and debate streamed live on the Internet at www.legis.la.gov

 

House passes rebate for school donors

A bill that would bolster Gov. Bobby Jindal’s bid to expand access to private and parochial schools won lopsided approval Tuesday in the Louisiana House.
The measure, House Bill 969, was approved 67-36 and next faces action in the state Senate.
It is linked to a separate, higher profile bill that passed the House last week.
That legislation would expand access to state aid for some students to switch from struggling public schools to private schools if they meet income rules.
House Bill 976 also awaits action in the Senate.
HB969, approved Tuesday night, would allow individuals and firms to make donations to help finance tuition for low-income students who attend private schools.
Donors would then qualify for a rebate.
The rebate could not exceed 95 percent of what was donated, meaning 5 percent could be used for administrative costs by school officials.
Donors would be giving to a tax exempt group set up by the school.
The aid for the students, which the bill calls scholarships, is not to exceed an estimated $4,000 for students from kindergarten through eighth grade and about $4,500 for students in grades 9-12.
That means, even with the assistance, parents would likely have to pay some costs to meet the cost of tuition and fees, backers said.
Like last week’s debate on two key Jindal public school bills, backers said the measure would give families more school options, especially for those whose children are stuck in low-performing classrooms.
“I think it expands choice,” said state Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge and sponsor of the measure.
“It’s all about choice,” Talbot added later during a debate that lasted nearly four hours.
But House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Bel Edwards, of Amite, told the House that the bill is riddled with constitutional problems.
Edwards said it was a mistake for the House to be debating a “refundable tax credit” bill when such measures are prohibited by the state Constitution in a regular session during an even-numbered year.
Edwards reminded colleagues that they took an oath to uphold the Constitution on Jan. 9.
“I hope that certainly means something to you,” he said.
Talbot disputed Edwards’ criticism, and said the chief clerk of the House said a rebate bill was allowable this year.
“We did our due diligence,” Talbot said in his closing remarks.
Repeated bids by Democratic lawmakers to amend Talbot’s proposal failed by lopsided margins, just as they did last week.
Jindal’s fellow Republicans enjoy majorities in the House and Senate.
State Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, tried to limit the assistance to students attending public schools rated “D” or “F” by the state.
“We have a limited number of slots available,” said Ritchie.
“I just think we need to be concentrating on the “D” and “F” schools,” he added.
Talbot opposed the change.
He said that, for whatever reason, parents may want to move their children from schools other those with “D” and “F” grades.
Ritchie’s amemdment failed 48-49.
Another Ritchie amendment to offer donors tax credits instead of rebates also failed.
The House approved an amendment that would delay the rebates until the end of the school year, and  not until a number of conditions are met.
It would prorate any rebate if the student moved to a public school.
In addition, taxpayers would only qualify for a rebate if the school certified to the state Department of Education that the donation financed a scholarship.
Voting FOR rebates for taxpayers who donate to help pay for private and parochial school tuition for some students (66): Speaker Kleckley and Reps. Adams, Arnold, Badon, Barras, Berthelot, Billiot, S. Bishop, Broadwater, Burford, H. Burns, T. Burns, Carmody, Carter, Champagne, Chaney, Connick, Cromer, Danahay, Dove, Fannin, Foil, Garofalo, Geymann, Greene, Guillory, Guinn, Harris, Havard, Hazel, Henry, Hensgens, Hodges, Hollis, Howard, Huval, Lambert, N. Landry, Leger, Leopold, Ligi, Lopinto, Lorusso, Mack, Miller, Moreno, Jay Morris, Jim Morris, Pearson, Ponti, Pope, Pugh, Pylant, Richardson, Robideaux, Schexnayder, Schroder, Seabaugh, Simon, St. Germain, Talbot, Thibaut, Thompson, Whitney, P. Williams, and Willmott.
Voting AGAINST HB969 (37): Reps. Reps. Anders, Armes, Barrow, W. Bishop, Brossett, Brown, Burrell, Cox, Dixon, Edwards, Franklin, Gaines, Gisclair, Harrison, Hill, Hoffmann, Honoré, Hunter, G. Jackson, K. Jackson, James, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, T. Landry, LeBas, Montoucet, Norton, Ortego, Pierre, Price, Reynolds, Ritchie, Shadoin, Smith, Thierry, and A. Williams.
NOT Voting on HB969 (2): Reps. Abramson and Richard.