Morial upgrade bill advances in Senate committee

Legislation designed to aid the development of property around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday morning.

House Bill 516 would allow the center to borrow money to redevelop the riverfront area and improve the streetscape.

The legislation generated controversy because of a financial analysis that concluded state government would be responsible for half of the project’s expense.

HB516’s sponsor, state Rep. Walt Leger III, told the state Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Wednesday that the analysis is inaccurate.

Leger, D-New Orleans, said nothing in the bill requires the state to use construction dollars for the convention center’s project.

The committee voted, without objection, to advance the House-passed bill to the full Senate for consideration.