If legislators call themselves into session next month, they will focus on health care and prisons.
State Rep. Dee Richard released a session call Thursday that he hopes will generate enough support for an unprecedented special session to review some of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent decisions. By calling a special session for Nov. 26, legislators would try to force the governor to involve them in decisions impacting jobs and health care.
The four subject areas listed in the call stem from health care cuts and the closure of a DeQuincy prison.
Legislators would consider:
“It’s putting some parameters,” Richard said.
However, several hurdles stand in the way of legislators convening at the State Capitol without Jindal’s approval.
Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, said he still lacks the support to poll legislators about a special session.
The process starts with at least 13 senators and 35 representatives submitting a petition declaring a need for a special session. The petition then is mailed to each legislator for approval. A majority must return the petition in order for the session to be held.
Richard said he is only halfway there on convincing 35 representatives to sign a petition.
Special sessions are limited in scope. Legislators cannot stray beyond the confines of the call. In the past, they typically have only called themselves into session to redraw voting district lines.
Talk about a special session began circulating after Jindal announced the closure of the DeQuincy prison near Lake Charles and deep budget cuts to health care.
To deal with the cuts, which were prompted by an unexpected drop in federal funding, LSU released plans Thursday to lay off nearly 1,500 hospital workers and reduce the number of beds available for patients at public hospitals, including facilities in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans.
The LSU Board of Supervisors, which is largely controlled by the governor, initially ordered cuts of 34.5 percent, coming just short of needing to involve legislators in the decisions on reductions.
The decision to close the DeQuincy prison startled legislators in southwest Louisiana, including House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, who said the governor did not consult them.
“I am signing the call,” state Rep. Brett Geymann said Thursday.
Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said legislators need to participate in the critical decisions that are being made.
Richard said he wants to overturn the cuts to the prison and health care services.
He said he is prepared to show other areas in which reductions could be made. He said the state spends too much money on expenses such as salaries.
“Everyone asks you, ‘Do you have a plan?’ Well, that’s part of my plan,” Richard said, referring to his call.
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