Panel favors reducing state contracts, jobs
Over the Jindal administration’s objections, a state House committee Monday advanced legislation that calls for state government to reduce contracts and jobs.
The House Committee on Appropriations voted without objection to send House Bill 327 and House Bill 328, both by state Rep. Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, to the full House.
HB327 would require the state to reduce professional, personal, consulting and social services contracts by 10 percent in the fiscal year that starts July 1. HB328 would require the reduction of 5,000 state government positions over three years.
State Treasurer John Kennedy said the legislation is needed to get a handle on state spending.
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, the governor’s top budget aide, said the administration already is bringing costs under control.
Standstill budgets advance to House
A House committee agreed to standstill budgets Monday for the spending of Louisiana House and the state Senate.
House Bill 1044 by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, would allow the House to spend $27.6 million and the Senate to spend $20.7 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
With little discussion, the House Committee on Appropriations advanced the legislation to the House floor.
Two-year inspection sticker passes panel
A bill that would allow motorists to get two-year vehicle inspection stickers passed the House Transportation Committee.
The measure, Senate Bill 601, next faces action on the House floor. It has already passed the Senate.
Backers say the change would make it more convenient for motorists to get two-year stickers and that doing so would not reduce car and truck safety.
State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson told the panel that two-year stickers are becoming increasingly common nationwide.
The stickers would cost $10 for one year and $20 for two years.
Business incentives near final passage
A package of business incentives pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal is nearing final legislative passage.
The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs agreed without objection Monday to advance House Bill 937, House Bill 958 and House Bill 729 — all by state Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette. The proposals now move to the Senate floor.
The bills would create a tax rebate on expenses tied to business headquarter relocations or expansions; give a payroll subsidy for certain businesses; and allow some companies to lower their corporate income and franchise taxes by basing them on the amount of sales they generate in Louisiana rather than on their sales, property and payroll.
State Department of Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret told legislators the incentives would create thousands of new jobs.
“This bill would dramatically improve our ability to attract significant new economic development activity,” he said in reference to one of the proposals.
Committee clears rebate for Hornets
A $3.65 million annual tax rebate designed to keep the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets in the state cleared a Senate Committee on Monday.
The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs voted 7-2 in favor of House Bill 1072 by state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans.
Some members of the committee objected to state government bearing the cost of a rebate for a New Orleans team.
State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said he did not want prison guards and other state workers in danger of losing their jobs to have to pay to support a team in south Louisiana.
Henry and state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, argued that the entire state benefits from the revenue that the team generates.
HB1072 now goes to the full Senate.
The Hornets of the National Basketball Association and the Saints of the National Football League are both owned by Tom Benson, a car dealer from San Antonio.
House rejects plan to end Electoral College
The state House rejected a bill that would make Louisiana part of a national effort to elect the president of the United States by popular vote rather than the Electoral College.
The vote was 28-63.
The proposal, House Bill 1095, would add Louisiana to a proposed compact of states that prefer the popular vote.
The organization would only become effective if enough states that comprise a majority of electoral votes — 270 out of 538 — agreed to the change.
State Rep. Walter Leger, D-New Orleans and sponsor of the bill, said eight states and the District of Columbia have agreed to do so and that they represent 120-130 electoral votes.
Leger said the change would cause presidential candidates to campaign in Louisiana rather that focusing their attention on battleground states like Florida and Ohio.
“At the end of the day if you are not a swing state, you just don’t get a visit,” he said.
Opponents questioned the viability of the compact and said the nation’s founding fathers opted not to rely on popular votes to elect presidents.
House votes to raise lab school tuition
The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $500 tuition increase for Southern Laboratory School that would kick in starting in the 2012-2013 school year.
House Bill 856 sponsored by state Rep. Dalton Honoré, D-Baton Rouge, authorizes the school to raise tuition from about $1,994 to about $2,400.
Honoré said a significant number of the school’s parents agreed to the tuition hike to help the school close a $425,000 budget gap.
The House voted to advance the bill by a margin of 84 votes to three votes. The legislation will now go to the state Senate for further debate.
Compiled by the
Capitol news bureau.