STATE SENATE BEGINS WORK OF 2005 REGULAR SESSION
MURRAY & BROOME OFFICIALLY SEATED AS NEW SENATORS
Members of the Louisiana State Senate began the work of the 2005 Regular Session of the State Legislature at noon Monday, April 25, 2005. For the first time at a "fiscal" session, a session previously limited to the discussion of specific spending and tax matters, lawmakers will address a limited number of bills on general issues. So at this session, in addition to important discussions on state budget problems, teacher pay proposals and income and property tax policy, legislators will also discuss such things as living wills, railroad crossing safety, ethics policies, stem cell research and help for our citizens serving in the military and their families.
As Senate President Don Hines explains, the senate will have plenty of work to do.
"I think we are going to have to work very hard to balance the budget and avoid some very serious cuts, especially in the health care area where we are about $400 million short right now. The passage of revenue enhancing measures is also going to be an uphill battle, but we have 59 days to go and hopefully we will be able to put a package together that will be agreeable to most of the legislators."
Generally Senate President Hines believes the new "fiscal" session approach will be beneficial.
"The way the old system worked if you werenít on a money committee, you really didnít have a whole lot to do. This way the other committees other than the money committees are meeting and taking care of business from day one. It also reduces the possibility of costly special sessions."
As part of the first day of business, newly elected State Senators Ed Murray (D-New Orleans) and Sharon Weston Broome (D-Baton Rouge) officially took their seats. Senator Murray takes the District 4 seat, replacing Paulette Irons who was elected to a civil district judgeship. District 4 includes much of central New Orleans between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, as well as the French Quarter. Senator Broome takes the District 15 seat, replacing Kip Holden who was elected Baton Rouge mayor-president. District 15 includes most of north Baton Rouge and the northwest part of East Baton Rouge Parish, including the cities of Baker and Zachary. Both Senators Murray and Broome previously served in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
The Louisiana Senate will be conducting its business this session short two members. While elections have been called to fill the seats left vacant by the untimely death of Senator John Hainkel and the resignation of Senator Lambert Boissiere, the newly elected New Orleans City Constable, the elections probably will not be finalized until near the end or after the conclusion of the session.
Before the opening of the regular session, state senators pre-filed 330 bills. Each member can file an additional five fiscal bills once the session begins. Once again, citizens can read and print the bills and other legislative measures as well check on committee schedules and agendas via the Internet at http://senate.legis.state.la.us. The public can also watch Senate proceedings live on the Internet on the Senate Web site or the joint legislative site, www.legis.state.la.us . Live broadcasts of legislative proceedings can be seen weekday afternoons on certain local cable stations participating in LaTV, a cooperative effort of the House, the Senate, Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Louisiana Cable Television Association.
Information about committee meeting schedules, agendas and legislation is also available over the phone by calling the Public Update Legislative Services Line or PULS Line (342-2456 in the Baton Rouge area or toll free 800-256-3793. The service is available 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM when the legislature is not meeting and from 8:30 AM until adjournment during session.
CITIZEN INFORMATION SERVICES
Louisiana Senate Information on the Internet
PULS Line 225-342-2456 or 800-256-3793
LaTV Broadcasts of Legislative Proceedings
Main Senate Number 225-342-2040