capitol news bureau
June 01, 2012
Lawmakers pass bill
on abortion protocol
The state Senate gave final legislative passage Thursday to a bill aimed at further restricting abortions in Louisiana.
The Senate voted 33-3 to concur in House amendments to the legislation and shipped it to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk for signing into law.
Under Senate Bill 708, sponsored by state Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, a physician would be required to give a woman the option of listening to her unborn baby’s heartbeat before receiving an abortion. SB708 also would change the wait between examination and procedure from two hours to 24 hours.
sparks Senate debate
Louisiana has fewer than 10 midwives.
Yet senator after senator went to the microphone on the state Senate floor Thursday morning on legislation involving them.
At issue was Senate Bill 320 by state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie. The measure involves health-care providers.
Martiny said state Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, hijacked the legislation in the Louisiana House by adding in beefed-up licensing standards for midwives.
He wanted the Senate to reject her amendment and let a conference committee decide how the bill should read.
State Sen. Fred Mills Jr., R-St. Martinville, said the midwife amendment simply would elevate standards by requiring that they be certified by the North American Registry of Midwives.
“This is becoming a turf war that does not need to be fought,” he said.
State Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, asked the Senate to agree to the House amendment. She said Landry did no damage to the bill.
She said Landry’s amendment would fall out if the legislation went to a conference committee.
“Do you trust me?” Martiny asked.
“Uh, oh,” Broome said, avoiding answering the question.
In the end, the Senate rejected the House amendment, booting the bill to a conference committee.
Senators advance bill
on tax refund options
The state Senate voted 38-0 Thursday in favor of legislation that would allow Louisiana taxpayers to opt against receiving income tax refunds on debit cards.
The state Department of Revenue’s shift from paper checks to the debit cards in a cost-cutting measure sparked protests by legislators and led to House Bill 1092 by state Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro.
The bill would allow taxpayers to choose a check, debit card or direct deposit for receipt of their refunds. The bill would be effective for three years, beginning in the 2013 tax year. HB1092 returns to the Louisiana House for concurrence on Senate changes that put the three-year sunset on the legislation.
Continuance of EBR rental tax moves on
Legislation to continue an expiring local tax on rental cars in East Baton Rouge Parish breezed through the state Senate on Thursday.
The Senate made some tweaks to House Bill 971 by state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, before voting 32-4 to return it to the Louisiana House.
The bill would allow the parish to create an automobile rental tax district to generate dollars for the arts and local government. The legislation is a way to keep taxing authority for the tax.
The Senate adopted an amendment to direct some of the proceeds to the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office. The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and the Shaw Center for the Arts also would benefit.
Property tax waivers
to go before voters
The state House gave final legislative approval Thursday afternoon to two measures that would allow certain nonmanufacturing businesses to be exempt from local property taxes to help with state industry recruitment efforts.
The House voted 94-0 for the Senate version of the proposed constitutional amendment, House Bill 674, which goes to voters Nov. 6. Then, the House voted 88-0 for its companion statutory change, HB694, which spells out details.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, sponsored both of the measures, which state economic development officials said are needed to help Louisiana entice certain types of businesses for which today’s tax burden is too high.
The legislation would allow a local option property tax exemption for corporate headquarters, distribution facilities, data services facilities, research and development operations, and digital media and software development centers.
Under the bill, the businesses would have to make a minimum $25 million investment, involve at least 50 new direct jobs with at least 50 percent of their sales out-of-state.
The property tax exemption would have to be agreed to by the parish governing authority, the municipality, the local school board, the law enforcement district and the assessor.
Businesses would be eligible for a 10-year property tax exemption. But the exemption would not apply to the first $10 million of fair market value or the first 10 percent of the fair market value, whichever is greater.
Elderly Affairs office transfer bill rejected
Representatives in the state House narrowly beat back an attempt to transfer a section of the Office of Elderly Affairs — Adult Protective Services — from the Governor’s Office to the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Aging and Adult services.
Senate Bill 762, sponsored by state Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington, R-Keithville, was seen as the next-best step after a bid to move the entire Office of Elderly Affairs from the Governor’s Office to DHH was abandoned in the face of strong opposition from Council on Aging officials from across from the state.
The Office of Elderly Affairs’ Elderly Protective Services responds to reports that people age 60 or older are being abused or neglected.
DHH’s Adult Protective Services handles cases involving disabled individuals under age 60.
On Thursday, state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, argued that SB762 was unnecessary because it would not fix any problems or save the state any money.
The bill failed on a 47-49 vote.
moves to Senate
Legislation that would require parents with school-age children to attend at least one parent-teacher conference per school year passed Thursday night in the state House on a 65-22 vote.
Senate Bill 685, sponsored by state Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, heads back to the state Senate for consideration of amendments added in the House.
One amendment, by state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, calls for teachers to be able to waive the requirement for parents of well-performing students. Another of Smith’s amendments gives parents and teachers the option to have the conference over the phone instead of in person.
Smith said both amendments were necessary to accommodate parents, guardians and caretakers who are elderly or work odd hours.
The Senate will consider another amendment by state Rep. Kenny Cox, D-Mansfield, which stipulates that students should not be punished if their parents fail to participate in a parent-teacher conference.
Those amendments passed.
Cox argued that SB685 still accomplished its goal.
on legacy lawsuits
One of the most acrimonious issues facing Louisiana lawmakers this session has wrapped up.
The state House gave final passage Thursday to compromise legislation involving a dispute between the oil and gas industry and landowners over how to clean up environmental damage done in drilling years ago.
The pair of bills will change the complex legal process for dealing with so-called “legacy lawsuits” that seek millions of dollars in damage claims and that the oil and gas companies claim are stymieing energy exploration in the state.
The bills head to the governor’s desk.
Compiled by the
Capitol news bureau