The final piece of Louisiana’s re-districting puzzle, which was not approved during special session, was signed by Governor Bobby Jindal this week and is headed to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (BESE) HB 519 by Representative Michael Danahay (D-Sulphur) was signed by the Governor on Wednesday. The plan includes three appointees by the Governor and eight districts which are voted on by Louisiana citizens for re-election in October 2011, as well as Governor, Legislators, and all other State Offices. Officials from BESE have reported that they believe this plan will have no problems being approved.
Still submerged in the legislative process is HB 1 and its supplemental appropriation bills, which are in Senate Finance Committee as the committee reviews Departmental Budgets. With the House of Representatives sending their version of the budget with $81 million additional in cuts, Governor Jindal is hoping that the Senate will be more open to his solution suggestions including the sale of state prisons and privatization of the Office of Group Benefits, allowing restoration of cuts to providers within the healthcare budget.
SB 259 by Senator Rob Marionneaux (D–Livonia), which is the ten year phase-out for the citizens of Louisiana’s personal income and corporate taxes was recommitted to Senate Finance Committee last week and once again came out of committee with a 7-3 vote in favor. It will have another chance to be heard on the Senate floor. Marionneaux indicated he will be looking to slash some business tax exemptions in order to fill the gap. The House version of this bill by Representative Hunter Greene (R-Baton Rouge) has been held up in the House Chamber… this version may be dead for the session.
Representative Harold Ritchie’s (D-Bogalusa) permanent 4 cents renewal on cigarettes was approved by the Senate this week with a vote of 29-8. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk where he has ten days to take action since the Legislature is still in session. It is likely that the Governor will veto the bill and it will be taken back up by the legislative chambers where they can override a veto with two/thirds votes from each chamber. The Senate approved the bill with a 3 person gain, while the House approved the bill with the exact number of votes necessary to gain the two/thirds majority. The renewal will allow matching funds of $38 million from the federal government to continue to flow into the budget along with the $12 million state dollars. While Ritchie’s bill has been sent to the Governor, Marionneaux’s legislation banning smoking in bars was voted down this week.
The SUNO-UNO merger proposal was sidelined in May with new legislation (HB 537 by Speaker of the House Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown and SB 266 by Senator Conrad Appel, R-Metairie) allowing UNO to exit the Louisiana State University System and become a member of the University of Louisiana System. While there are still costs involved, it is thought that they will be about half of what was expected from the SUNO-UNO merger with both schools more at ease with the decision.
Legislation forcing businesses to use the E-Verify program which allows businesses to verify citizenship in the United States (HB 175 by Representative Kirk Talbot, R-New Orleans) has been tweaked to “encourage” businesses to utilize the program. The major business associations and others were strongly opposed to the legislation.
We will continue to keep you updated as the Regular Session of 2011 progresses. Regular Session has to adjourn by 6pm on June 23. As always, if you have any questions or we can provide you with any other information, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Adams and Reese LLP Louisiana Governmental Relations Team
E. L. Henry, Esq.
Robert L. Rieger, Jr., Esq.
C. Kevin Hayes, Esq.
Christopher P. Coulon
J. Robert Wooley, Esq.
Richard B. Easterling, Esq.
Alisha M. Duhon
V. Thomas Clark, Jr., Esq.
Charles Castille, Esq.
Lee C. Reid, Esq.
Renee C. Crasto, Esq.