Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 5:24 am
Tuesday’s House Ways and Means hearing on bills to cap the film tax credit program brought out some of the big names in Louisiana movie-making, like Lampton Enochs of the Oscar-winning Moonbot Studios, and former Dukes of Hazzard star, John Schneider.
“I have not won an Academy Award, but I’ve seen several films that have,” Schneider said, eliciting laughter from committee members and the packed audience in attendance.
But charmed as lawmakers were by the big names, it was Louisiana residents working in the movie industry who made the biggest impression. Dozens spoke against Alexandria Rep. Lance Harris’s bill that would scale the credits down to zero over the next five years.
Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 8:08 am
The House Ways and Means Committee started working through several revenue-raising bills Monday, including one that would increase the cigarette tax.
There was the expected health related testimony.
“In Louisiana, more than 22 percent of adults and 12 percent of youth smoke cigarettes — the only product that, when used as directed, will kill half of all its users,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, director of Louisiana Tobacco-Free Living.
Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 9:36 am
“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” The naval adage, quoted in Wouk’s 1951 “The Caine Mutiny” and again in Heinlein’s 1973 “Time Enough for Love”, pretty well describes the current status of both the state budget and legislative action.
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 6:16 am
The House Appropriations Committee has advanced a bill that would keep highway dollars committed to road work by limiting how much can be shifted to State Police.
“Throughout this state, the common theme is that the legislators have raided the Transportation Trust Fund for other needs,” said New Iberia Rep. Terry Landry, in explaining reasons for authoring HB 208.
The 2015 legislative session convenes today, with just 60 days to solve a one-point-six billion dollar budget deficit. Has it ever been this bad?
“We’ve gone through this a couple of other times; the Arab oil embargo in the early 80s, and then also in the middle 90s when Roemer was governor,” House Clerk Butch Speer recalls. “We had those two crises, and they were actually worse than this one. Certainly in the middle 90s we were over a billion dollars short. We’re a billion and a half now, but the budget is 6, 8 times as large now.”
It happens every session: lawmakers, seeing the quarter of a billion dollar price tag on TOPS, look for ways to tweak the college scholarship program. This time, they might succeed.
“By establishing a ‘baseline’ tuition, future tuition increases will not be reflected in the state budget,” says Senate Finance committee chairman Jack Donahue, who is the author of Senate Bill 48. “This will allow the legislature to do a better job predicting the overall cost.
Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 2:34 pm
The House Appropriations Committee has begun the process of combing through the governor’s budget proposal, and got some rather unpleasant news from Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
“I have no money for elections past the fall statewide elections,” Schedler said of the allocations in the 2016 budget plan. “And the most affected election would be the presidential preference primary in the spring. I have no funding for it.”
“We have told the Governor we give up. We’re ready to go home,” Senator Robert Adley announced, prompting laughter from his fellow lawmakers, as Senate President John Alario responded, “Very good.”
2014 can be viewed as a session of hits and misses. Governor Jindal told the press he believes he scored a hit with his budget, which includes pay raises for state workers, as well as a bit more money for higher education.
Conference committees are where all the action is now, at the end of the session. But just what is a “conference committee”?
“There are bills that, you know, the House and Senate will disagree on and in many cases you can’t get it worked out,” Slidell Representative Kevin Pearson explains, “So a conference committee is selected to try and resolve that.”