2006 Regular Session Highlights
Issue by Issue...
by: Brenda Hodge
At the 2006 Regular Session of the Louisiana
Legislature, legislators faced the task of continuing the efforts of rebuilding
and recovery in the hurricane-impacted areas, while also focusing on policy and
budgetary decisions key to building a better Louisiana in all parts of our
state. With that in mind, legislators introduced over 2100 bills regarding a
wide-range of subject matters including government expropriation of property,
redesign of government operations in Orleans Parish, changes in Louisiana’s
election laws, the use of ethanol-blended gasoline, insurance reforms, smoking
and public health, business inducement measures and abortion, as well as a long
list of changes in state law arising from hurricane-related issues.
The Money Matters
All things considered, Louisiana’s fiscal
picture is much brighter than originally thought. In May, the Revenue Estimating
Conference officially increased expected revenue collections over the February
estimates by $584 million for this fiscal year and $175 million for the coming
fiscal year. The additional revenues, mostly as a result of increased mineral
revenues and tax collections related to rebuilding and recovery efforts, enabled
the state to avoid expected shortfalls in health care and higher education
programs, to restore some of the budget cuts made last fall and to better
position the state to deal with hurricane recovery and preparation efforts.
The state budget issues are spread out among the
various budget bills including the appropriations bill, the supplemental
appropriation bills and the capital outlay bill. ACT 17 (HB
1), the operating budget for 06-07, totals $26.7 billion compared with a
05-06 operating budget as of Dec. 1, 2005 of $19.78 billion after the billion
dollar budget reduction during the Nov. special session. The 06-07 budget
includes $5 billion in federal funds with most of that ($4.8 billion) earmarked
for the Governor’s Road Home program. If you compare the 05-06 and 06-07
budgets without the federal storm relief dollars added to both budgets, the
budget growth between the two years is $167 million, or a growth rate of .89%.
Key spending issues include:
- $95 million for a $1500 a year pay raise for
teachers and other certificated personnel including therapists,
librarians, guidance counselors and nurses.
- $23 million for a $500 a year pay raise for
school support workers.
- $2.7 billion to fully fund the MFP.
Generally, the MFP provides the hurricane-impacted school districts with a
minimal level of support depending on their student losses and anticipated
recovery. Otherwise, the formula increases the per student payment by $20
to address increased operation costs associated with insurance premiums
and retirement contributions; increases funding for at-risk students;
modifies the requirement that 70% of a district’s general fund be spent
on instructional activities to exempt central office costs and include
principal and assistant principal costs when calculating the 70%
requirement and requires 50% of the basic annual increase in the MFP be
spent on teacher salary increases except in those parishes where the
average salary is above the SREB average (DeSoto, St. James, West
Feliciana). Early reductions in funding for state mandated costs for
non-public schools are restored.
- $3.5 million to enhance and expand the early
childhood education program.
- $31 million for a 5% college faculty pay
raise. The Board of Regents has taken the position that the exact
percentage raise provided faculty members will be decided by the
administration at each institution. Some faculty may receive more than 5%,
- $15 million for targeted workforce training
related to the state’s recovery efforts including training for entry
level construction trades and shipbuilding.
- $8.7 million to fund an additional 300
waiver slots for home and community-based care for the developmentally
disabled and the elderly.
- $120 million pool to reimburse private and
non-profit hospitals for providing care to the needy and the underinsured.
- $20 million, a $10 million increase over the
prior year, for indigent defense.
- $40 million to help pay down the unfunded
accrued liability of the state employees’ and teachers’ retirement
- $428 million to help pay the state’s
matching part of the hurricane relief dollars sent to Louisiana. So far,
the state has received two bills from FEMA totaling $339.7 million.
- $150 million revolving emergency response
fund. If there is money left in the fund at the end of the 06-07 fiscal
year, the Blanco administration has agreed to direct $50 million from the
fund to help pay down the debt of the Louisiana Citizens Property
Insurance Corp. in an effort to reduce future insurance premium increases
that all policy holders pay each year to support the insurer of last
Hurricane Recovery, Emergency Preparedness &
The experience of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
exposed many inadequacies in our hurricane protection and emergency response
systems as well as the need to fine tune various existing state laws to ensure
the laws function properly in emergency situations.
- The Road Home Program -SCR 63
(Hines) - Provides legislative approval of the Housing Action Plan,
known as The Road Home Program, that allocates over $10 billion for
assistance to homeowners, renters and the homeless to restore, rebuild,
relocate or sell damaged housing and provides incentives to developers
to create affordable housing.
- Housing Corporation - ACT 654 (SB
445 Jackson) - Authorizes the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency to create
a non-profit corporation to hold title to the properties sold to the
state as part of The Road Home Program until the properties are disposed
of as determined by local entities.
- Housing Preservation - ACT 355 (HB
1071 Hunter) - Creates the Louisiana Housing Preservation Act to make it
easier for local governments to redevelop and revitalize blighted
property. The bill allows local governments to compile a blighted
housing property list of residences that have been vacant for at least
18 months and are deemed a public nuisance. Homes on the list will be
put into a receivership and redeveloped with the homeowner having the
option of holding on to the property and paying for any repairs. Homes
impacted by Katrina and Rita will not be included if the owners are
eligible and receive assistance from the state’s Road Home program.
- Infrastructure Repairs & Business
Assistance - SCR 19
(Hines) - Authorizes spending $142.5 million
in federal block grant funds for state and local infrastructure repairs
and another $95 million for the Louisiana Bridge Loan Program.
- Recovery Authority Reports/Spending - ACT
686 (HB 308 Kleckley) - Requires the Louisiana Recovery Authority to
prepare a report by Sept. 1, 2006 regarding the nature and extent of
damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the impact the damages will
have on recovery efforts. The LRA will also be required to notify
legislators at least one week before the consideration of any proposal
before the authority that requires the expenditure of $10 million or
more. The notification must include specific information as to how the
funds will be spent, the source of the funding and the beneficiaries of
- Mitigation Funds -ACT 512 (SB 137
Dupre) - Requires that no less than 75% of the federal Hazard Mitigation
Grant monies received by the state due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita be
spent in those parishes within the federally declared disaster areas
where all categories of FEMA public assistance are eligible for payment.
The requirement does not apply to funds expended for the restoration and
protection of housing.
- Utility Restoration Assistance -
- ACT 64 (HB 887 Pinac) - Creates the
Louisiana Electric Utility Storm Recovery Securitization Act which
authorizes Entergy and Cleco to sell storm recovery bonds with the
approval of the Public Service Commission. The bonds are expected to carry
an interest rate about 3% below normal borrowing mechanisms. Any savings
to the utilities through such financing will be passed on to consumers.
- ACT 503 (HB 1389 C. Gray) -
Restructures an existing law to allow for municipal ownership of
utility services now provided by Entergy in New Orleans. Provides
Entergy with an option for recovery and would make utility services
eligible for FEMA assistance as a municipal-operated system in the
event of another storm. Entergy, which estimates uninsured damage at
$718 million, prefers cash assistance via the LRA and available
community development block grants
- Emergency Response/Evacuations -
- Office of Homeland Security and Emergency
Preparedness Reorganization ACT 442 (HB 1388 F. Thompson) - Sets up
a new, expanded management structure for the Office of Homeland Security
and Emergency Preparedness which is now under the supervision of the
governor’s office rather than the LA National Guard. The current 40
person staff is expected to expand to about 100. The reorganization,
involving a deputy director and regional directors, will cost about $1.29
million to implement in the first year. The changes are patterned after
successful operations in other states.
- Nursing Home Evacuations - ACT 540
(SB 529 L. Jackson) - Sets up basic guidelines for the evacuation of
nursing homes in the event of an emergency or declared disaster. Requires
DHH to establish detailed rules regarding the evacuation or sheltering in
place plans for nursing homes in 22 storm-vulnerable parishes by April 1,
2007. Until the rules are developed, the nursing homes are required to
submit updated evacuation plans to DHH by August 1st of this
year. Generally, nursing homes, in cooperation with patients’ families,
must develop evacuation plans that include identified shelters,
transportation needs, etc. The state will assist with the evacuation of
the most vulnerable patients, such as those on respirators or on dialysis.
Local governments will assist with transportation if necessary. The costs
associated with an evacuation will be borne by the nursing home with the
state assisting the facilities in recouping the funds through FEMA. The
state will also seek approval from the federal government for Medicaid
reimbursement of evacuation costs associated with Medicaid patients. At
least 70 nursing home patients died during Katrina and only about
one-third of the nursing homes evacuated before Katrina.
- Pet Evacuations - ACT 615 (SB 607
Fontenot) - Requires local governments, in cooperation with the state, to
develop and implement emergency evacuation and shelter plants for
household pets and service animals. Evacuees will be allowed to leave with
their pets in proper cages or carriers. An identification program will be
implemented by state agriculture officials to help evacuees find lost
pets. Implementation is dependent on funds being available from the state’s
emergency preparation fund and the receipt of funds from other sources.
Non-profit organizations have offered to help Louisiana pay for the pet
evacuation program. Additionally, there is legislation moving through the
U.S. Congress that would require FEMA to reimburse governments for pet
evacuations during disasters. It is clear that lives were lost in
southeast Louisiana because people refused to leave pets behind.
- Unidentified Persons
- ACT 227 (HB 1140 Martiny) - Sets
up the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing Persons
Information Program at LSU’s Forensic Anthropology and Computer
Enhancement Services (FACES) lab. The lab will service as the state’s
chief repository for data on missing and unidentified people. The
repository will contain data and DNA samples that could be matched
with possible survivors to make identifications. The initial start-up
cost is $500,000, with an annual operational cost of $407,000.
- ACT 258 (HB 309 Walker) -
Changes state law to allow a court to declare a missing person dead
after a two year absence, if the absence occurred between Aug. 26,
2005 and Sept. 30, 2005. The change does not apply to a missing person
who is charged with a felony. This is to assist surviving families of
the missing settle estates and life insurance policies.
- ACT 330 (HB 96 Hutter)
Requires funeral homes to include identification tags on caskets in
case of a flood or other event that forces caskets from burial sites.
The state board that oversees the operation of funeral homes in
Louisiana will establish the ID tagging process.
- Other Public Safety Issues & Consumer
- ACT 610 (SB 569 Murray) -
Authorizes the attorney general to issue cease-and-desist orders
without going to court in times of emergency or when there is a
governor-declared disaster. The authority would be limited to those
cases where the courts are closed in a parish because of the
emergency. This is an effort to give the attorney general’s office
more power to tackle problems with price-gouging and other consumer
issues during a declared emergency.
- ACT 714 (HB 794 Powell) -
Requires a person who applies for or has received disaster assistance
and seeks refuge in an emergency shelter or temporary residence to
provide law enforcement officials current, credible personal
identification. Further provides that anyone who applies for disaster
assistance is consenting to the release of personal identification
information by that application.
- ACT 285 (HB 873 Cazayoux) -
Prohibits sex offenders from knowingly being housed in emergency
shelters, FEMA trailer parks, hotels, or any other facility where the
general population of evacuees is staying. Requires state police to
provide the names of convicted sex offenders to operators of
evacuation and emergency shelters so that the offenders may be
sheltered in areas away from the general population. Shelter officials
who become aware of a sex offender housed at a facility must notify
local law enforcement officials.
- ACT 175 (HB 409 Scalise) -
Requires sex offenders to check in with state parole officers in times
of emergencies or disaster declarations. The Department of Public
Safety will set up a toll-free hotline for sex offenders to call.
Failure to comply with the notification requirements may result in
revocation of parole.
- ACT 284 (HB 857 Baldone) -
Requires sex offenders displaced from their home parishes for more
than 30 days to re-register in the parish where they have relocated.
The offenders must also notify the police chief or sheriff in their
former parish of the re-registration.
- ACT 275 (HB 760 Scalise) -
Prohibits the seizure of firearms from law-abiding citizens during a
state of emergency. Allows law enforcement officers to disarm someone
when the officer reasonably believes it is necessary for the
protection of the officer or anyone else. If an arrest is not made or
the weapon seized as part of a criminal investigation, the weapon must
- ACT 254 (HB 190 Martiny) -
Authorizes local governments to enact tougher gun laws than the state
during emergencies and disasters in "high-risk" parishes in
an effort to prevent looting of gun shops.
- ACT 199 (HB 743 Hutter) -
Creates the crime of unauthorized entry of a dwelling during a
disaster or state of emergency. Stiffer penalties than simple
trespassing. Allows fines up to $1500 and/or up to one year jail. does
not apply to emergency personnel or persons seeking a safe haven
within 72 hours of the emergency.
- ACT 220 (HB 1007 Baldone) -
Prohibits the early release of someone convicted of looting during a
hurricane or state of emergency.
- ACT 165 (HB 264 Scalise) -
Deletes from current law regarding increased penalties for looting
during an emergency the requirement that the looter must know there
was a declared emergency for the higher penalties to apply.
- ACT 302 (HB 1212 LaFonta) -
Requires demolition and construction crews and haulers to cover their
vehicles to prevent nails and other materials from littering the
highways and proposing a safety hazard. A companion measure, ACT
234 (HB 1210
LaFonta), includes the dropping of roofing nails on
public rights of way in the state’s littering laws.
- Liability Issues -
- ACT 402 (HB 892 K. Carter) -
Protects state agencies and employees from civil lawsuits arising from
death, injury or property damage resulting from actions in response to
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The exemption does not apply if there is
gross negligence or willful misconduct.
- ACT 545 (SB 621 Murray) - Limits
the liability of public bodies that own or operate buildings that
cause damage in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,
including post-storm restoration, repair and construction. Lawsuits
will be allowed if a public building’s defects are the result of
"gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct." The
measure is retroactive to Aug. 24, 2005 and expires Aug. 30, 2008.
- ACT 244 (HB 70 Durand) - Expands
the state’s "Good Samaritan Law" to include health-care
workers who volunteer during a disaster. Such volunteers will not be
held liable for death or injury arising from their assistance.
- ACT 836 (HB 884 Durand) - Limits
the liability of United Way, the Southern Mutual Help Organization,
PRC Compassion, Inc. and Catholic Charities when providing disaster
relief following a state of emergency.
- Environmental Recovery Issues -
- ACT 662 (SB 583 Fontenot) -
Requires DEQ to develop a comprehensive debris management plan for
debris generated by natural disasters. The plan should focus on
recycling and composting, volume reduction, weight reduction,
incineration or co-generation and land disposal.
- ACT 718 (HB 877 Damico) -
Authorizes DEQ to assess a fee of twenty cents per ton on construction
and demolition waste to offset additional costs incurred by DEQ in
monitoring waste disposal operations connected with storm-related
cleanup and rebuilding.
- Other Hurricane Recovery & Emergency
Response Issues -
- ACT 104 (SB 85 Jones) - Requires
state corrections officials to maximize the use of inmate labor to
assist with remediation activities after a natural disaster or
emergency, ensuring that the inmate laborers are not supplanting
private sector employees. Authorizes the corrections department to
establish community resource centers to provide housing for the
inmates assisting after the disaster. Inmates participating in relief
efforts are eligible to earn an additional 30 days of good time for
every 30 days of service.
- HCR 201
(Robideaux) - Requires
the Department of Revenue to prepare and mail notices to residents
displaced outside of Louisiana advising them of their responsibility
to pay Louisiana state income taxes on any income earned outside the
state as long as they are a Louisiana resident. Taxes paid to other
states can be credited toward the Louisiana taxes owed.
- ACT 564 (SB 47 Nevers/Schedler)
- Authorizes a special state license plate to show Louisiana’s
gratitude to the rest of the nation for the assistance provided to the
state in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. While the design is
not complete, the plans are for the plate to feature "Louisiana
Thanks You" in one corner with a purple and gold saxophone logo.
Motorists desiring the new plates will pay a $3.50 administrative fee,
but will not be required to pay the $25 fee normally associated with
special plates. The license plate is part of an broader
"Louisiana Thanks You" campaign to spread the appreciation
message across the country.
- ACT 200 (HB 796 Martiny) -
Establishes "Come Back to Louisiana" by singer-songwriter
Jay Chevalier as the state’s official hurricane recovery song. Also
designates Chevalier as the official state troubadour.
- ACT 740 (HB 1354 Karen Carter) -
Sets up the Hurricane Katrina Memorial Commission to make
recommendations as to an appropriate memorial and suggested locations
for such a memorial to recognize and honor those who lost their lives
in the disaster.
- Rate Increase Notification - ACT 784 (HB
1073 Hutter) - Requires insurance companies that raise rates to explain the
reason for the increase to policyholders in the premium notice sent to
consumers or otherwise notify consumers how they can obtain additional
information about the rate hikes within 60 days.
- Damage Settlements -
- ACT 802 (HB 1302 Burns)
Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims another year to settle damage claims
with insurance companies, regardless of what limitations may be included
in the insurance policy. For Hurricane Katrina victims the deadline is
extended to Aug. 29, 2007. For Hurricane Rita, the new deadline is Sept.
24, 2007. Without the extension, hundreds of thousands of property owners
will be forced to file suit to protect their rights to continue the
pursuit of their insurance claims.
- ACT 739 (HB 1289 Morrell) - This
measure also gives Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims another year to
settle damage claims with insurance companies, with the same extended
deadlines as HB 1302. Also prevents any insurance policy issued in
Louisiana that limits the right of action against the insurer to a period
of less than 12 months. Also provides that the attorney general shall seek
a declaratory judgment within 10 days of the effective day of this new law
as well as HB 1302 to determine the laws’ constitutionality.
- ACT 813 (SB 620 Murray) - Increases
penalties against insurance companies that arbitrarily, capriciously or
without probable cause do not make timely payments on property claims.
Increases the current penalty of 25% of the damage owed or $1000 to 50% of
the damage owed and requires the insurance company to pay the policy
holder’s attorney and court fees. Current law requires that claims be
paid within 30 days of proof of the damage amount as established by law.
The increased penalties do not apply to life, health, accident or personal
vehicle damage insurance.
- Adjuster Licensing Standards -
- ACT 806 (HB 1384 K. Carter) - Sets
up a system to require the licensing of public adjusters - those adjusters
hired by policy holders to help prepare and file insurance claims.
Requires exams and sets up professional practice standards. Prohibits
services on a contingency fee basis. Requires the posting of a bond. The
public adjuster cannot render legal advice as part of his services. ACT
763 (HB 520 K. Carter) sets the licensing fee at $55. The new system takes
effect June 30, 2007.
- ACT 783 (HB 1056
Farrar) - Sets up a
system to require the licensing of claims adjusters employed by insurance
companies or under contract with insurance companies as independent
adjusters. Requires exams and sets up professional standards. ACT 762
(HB 518 Farrar) sets the licensing fee at $10.50. This system takes effect
June 30, 2007.
- Citizens Premium Costs - ACT 787 (HB1141
Hebert) - Exempts wind and hail coverage offered by the Louisiana Citizens
Property Corporation, the state created insurance source of last resort, from
the current requirement that insurance policies offered by the corporation
carry premiums 10% higher than the policies offered by private companies in
the area. The exemption expires Jan. 1, 2009. Requires the corporation to
notify policy holders in writing of any rate increase. Authorizes the
corporation to borrow money from the FAIR or Coastal Plans under its
jurisdiction to cover any shortfall in either plan to pay claims pending the
sale of bonds or other funding sources. Requires the corporation to seek
- Credit Status/Premium Rates - ACT 688 (HB
318 Richmond) - Prohibits insurance companies from using credit information
that shows a change in credit status to increase premiums on a policy renewal.
The prohibition applies only to those policies that expire between the
effective date of the prohibition and the end of this year.
Business Development, Workforce & Consumer
- Ethanol-Blended Gasoline -
- ACT 313 (HB 685 Thompson) - Requires
that ethanol-blended gasoline and other alternative fuels be sold in
Louisiana once production reaches adequate levels in the state, although
gas stations are not mandated to sell the fuel. Two percent of the total
gasoline sold in Louisiana will have to be agriculture-based when ethanol
production reaches 50 million gallons annually, biodiesel reaches
production 10 million gallons each year or production of other alternative
fuels reaches 20 million gallons a year. The Commissioner of Agriculture
is responsible for implementing the requirement. The new law is seen as a
boost for the state’s agriculture industry and a way to improve our
environment. Opponents are concerned that the alternative fuel mandate
will drastically increase fuel prices, an issue addressed in SB 454. There
is a 51-cent-a-gallon federal price support in place now, but that break
expires in 2007. Some states offer tax breaks to hold down the costs of
alternative fuels. No such incentives are in place in Louisiana at this
time. It is estimated that it will take at least two years for the
production of the alternative fuels to reach the required level for
consideration of implementation.
- ACT 656 (SB 454 Ellington) - Creates
"The Louisiana Renewable Fuels Production Accountability Act" to
encourage the use of competitively priced Louisiana crops by renewable
fuels plants. Requires notice and reports to the Louisiana Department of
Agriculture regarding anticipated production levels and specific feedstock
requirements. Also adds a price trigger to the implementation of the
ethanol-blended gasoline requirement outlined in HB 645. The requirement
will not be implemented until it is determined that the average wholesale
price of Louisiana produced ethanol, minus any federal tax incentives, is
equal or less than the average wholesale price gasoline for 60 days. The
price information will be determined by a three member panel composed of a
qualified college faculty member, a representative of the Oil Marketers
Association and a representative of the Louisiana Farm Bureau. The
agriculture commissioner will make a decision on proceeding with the
ethanol-blended gasoline requirement.
- Legacy Oilfield Sites - ACT 312 (SB 655
Adley) - Addresses the process for the clean-up of so-called "legacy
sites", sites where landowners have leased property for oil and gas
drilling and are later sued for alleged contamination from oil-field wastes
and saltwater. Allows a property owner and the company to agree to work with
DNR to develop an acceptable clean-up plan with the responsible party paying
for the clean-up. Property owners may opt to file suit against the company
with the courts deciding fault and awarding damages. If the company is found
to be at fault, DNR will hold a public hearing and within 60 days develop the
most feasible clean-up plan for submission to the courts. The courts must
adopt the DNR plan unless another plan is proven to be more feasible. All
funds earmarked for the clean-up must be used for that purpose. Oil and gas
exploration companies have complained that doing business in Louisiana has
been hampered by the inconsistent and costly handling of such legacy lawsuits
in recent years.
- Environmental Permitting -
- ACT 586 (SB 292 Fontenot) -
Authorizes DEQ to develop and implement a program to expedite the
processing of permits, modifications, licenses, registrations or variances
for environmental permits. ACT 779 (HB
870) establishes a fee
structure for the expedited permits.
- ACT 115 (SB 209 Fontenot) - Eases
approval of air and water environmental permits for low-level polluting
activities . DEQ will develop criteria that applicants must meet to
qualify for the low-level permits.
- Internet Ticket Sales - ACT 238 (HB
1299 Montgomery) - Allows the resale of tickets to sports and entertainment
events via the Internet for above face value if the sports team or
entertainment promoter agrees. Internet sites reselling such tickets will
have to agree to refunds if the event is cancelled, the buyer is not allowed
admittance to the event or the ticket is not delivered as promised. The
authority to resell tickets at above face-value price does not apply to
university sports event tickets allocated to Louisiana legislators or to
student tickets issued by universities for sporting events.
- Internet Auction Sales - ACT 550 (SB
642 Ellington) - Changes the state’s auction licensing law to restrict it
to a traditional public auction. Exempts individuals and businesses engaging
in auctions over the Internet.
- Internet Consumer Protections -
- ACT 549 (SB 641 Michot) ACT 201
(HB 798 Hutter) - Regulates phishing, the creation or operation of a Web
site purporting to be a legitimate business with the intent of obtaining
the user’s personal data. Criminalizes junk e-mail that pretends to be
from a legitimate business or encourages consumers to provide
identifying information such as bank account or social security numbers
to a phony Web site.
- ACT 392 (HB 690 Schneider) -
Outlaws activities to plant viruses or anything that could damage a
computer’s hardware or software.
- ACT 556 (SB 5 Cain) – Prohibits
Internet service providers from disclosing information about their
subscribers without expressed written or electronic authorization from
the subscriber, except when requested by court order or law enforcement,
as authorized by law.
- Unemployment Taxes - ACT 116 (SB 217
Nevers) - Declares that unemployment benefits paid out as a result of
executive orders issued in connection with Katrina and Rita will not be used
in determining an employers experience rating which is used to determine an
employer’s annual tax contribution rate. Also prohibits the use of the
social charge account tax to repay benefits paid as a result of the
executive orders into the social charge account. Benefits paid out and not
tied to a specific employer are paid out of the social charge account. It is
estimated that $700 million was paid out as a result of the executive
orders. Without a change in the law an employer’s annual tax contribution
rate and social charge account tax would increase to a prohibitive level.
- Illegal Workers/Contractors - ACT 636
(SB 753 Cravins) - Sets up procedures and penalties for enforcement of the
current state law that bans employers from hiring workers who are illegally
living or working in the U.S. Employers will have to maintain documents that
show workers meet eligibility rules required by federal immigration law.
Employers found to have knowingly hired illegal workers will be subject to
cease and desist orders. If they fail to act, they will face fines of up to
- Louisiana Product Sales -
- ACT 808 (HB 1387 Toomy) - Repeals
the LA Native Wine Law and provisions relating to taxes on wine.
Authorizes a wine producer to sell or serve its product at retail
directly to consumers at its winery or at fairs, festivals and farmers’
markets. Authorizes the sale and direct shipment of wine to a consumer
in Louisiana by a manufacturer or retailer domiciled outside of the
state or by a wine producer domiciled inside or outside of the state.
The in-state sales by a wine producer directly to a consumer are limited
to 48 750 milliliter bottles per calendar year. requires permit fees for
- ACT 124 (SB 525 N. Gautreaux) -
Creates the Cajun and Louisiana Creole Goods and Services Consumer
Protection Law to establish the terms "Cajun" and
"Louisiana Creole" as unique and distinctive to a region of
Louisiana and provides for the adoption of "Cajun" and
"Louisiana Creole" as certification marks. Authorizes the
agriculture commissioner to enforce the use of the certification marks.
- ACT 661 (SB 573 N. Gautreaux)
- Prohibits the deceptive use of the terms "Cajun" and
"Louisiana Creole" in commerce.
- Frivolous Lawsuits Against Businesses - ACT
684 (HB 290 Durand) - In an effort to crack down on
"frivolous" lawsuits against businesses, this measure mandates
jail time for runners who try to convince people to sue and the lawyers who
hire them. Runners are hired to go to locations like hospital emergency
rooms, where lawyers are prohibited from soliciting clients, to persuade
accident victims to hire a particular attorney and file a lawsuit. For a
first offense, there is a mandatory 90 days in jail. Additional offenses
require at least three years in prison.
- Local & Regional Economic Development - ACT
839 (HB 1130 Richmond) - Creates the "Local and Regional Economic
Development District Act". Authorizes the creation of multiple-parish
or multiple-municipality economic development districts for the purpose of
pursuing major business projects and industrial development opportunities.
The creation of an economic development district is contingent on a approval
by voters in the municipalities and parishes in the proposed district. The
districts will be able to acquire land, build infrastructure and incur debt
to promote manufacturing, research and commercial and wholesale trade. The
districts will not have expropriation powers. The boards can raise sales or
property taxes with a majority vote of all voters in the district as well as
a majority vote by each participating parish or municipality.
Expropriation & Eminent Domain Issues
- ACT 851 (SB 1
McPherson) (CA) - Proposes
a change in the State Constitution to limit the power of government to
expropriate private property. Voters will consider the change in a statewide
election in September and, if approved, government will not be able to take a
person’s home for economic development purposes. Currently, the constitution
allows expropriation of private property by government for "public
purposes" such as flood control, street repairs and other public
improvements. That power will remain, but what is a "public purpose"
will be more clearly defined.
- ACT 859 (HB 707 Farrar) (CA) - Proposes
a change in the State Constitution to prohibit the transfer or lease of
expropriated private property deemed not necessary for the completion of a
"public purpose" project without first offering the property for
sale back to the original owner on a pro-rata basis. If the original owner
does not opt to buy back the property within three years of the completion of
the project, the state or governmental entity may sell the property to the
public by competitive bid. Sets up a timetable for the governmental entity to
determine if property is not needed. Property which has been held for more
than 30 years before it is determined to be surplus is not impacted. Voters
will consider the proposed change at the Sept. 30, 2006 statewide election.
- ACT 853 (SB 27 Dupre) (CA)
ACT 567 (SB
64 STATUTE) - Limits the payment to property owners for property taken in
connection with hurricane protection to the amount and circumstances required
by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or the fair market value
rather than the "full extent of loss" as now required. The measure
will not apply to property or structures damaged or destroyed by an event
designated as a natural disaster or emergency when the expropriation occurs
within 3 years of the event. Louisiana is the only state in the nation that
defines land values in that fashion. Voters have already agreed to limit
payments to property owners for property taken in connection with coastal
restoration projects to fair market value.
Proposed amendment will be considered in the
Sept. 2006 statewide election.
Transportation, Flood Control & Hurricane
- Construction Work/Peak Hours - ACT 727
1173 Crowe) - Specifically prohibits construction and maintenance work on
major highways between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.
Construction or maintenance work on major highways that restricts traffic flow
is already prohibited during "peak hours". Also would allow DOTD to
use one appraiser rather than two appraisers when appraising properties of
expected value of under $30,000.
- Construction of Megaprojects -
- ACT 304 (HB 1294 Quezaire) - Allows
the state through the Louisiana Transportation Authority to enter into
partnerships with private entities to build roads and bridges financed by
tolls. The authority is limited to so-called "megaprojects",
those projects costing at least $250 million. The private entity will
build the projects, maintain the project and receive the revenues from the
tolls. After a period of time, the project will revert to the state. The
House and Senate transportation committees will hold a public hearing on
any proposal, but does not have the power to reject any deal.
- ACT 685 (HB 299 Daniel) - Sets up
the Transportation Mobility Fund to assist with the funding of major, high
cost road projects, known as mega-projects. The fund is designed to bridge
the gap between projected toll revenue collections for a toll project and
the estimated costs of the project. Projects must qualify and be approved
by the Louisiana Transportation Authority. There is currently no funding
source for the fund.
- State Highway Improvement Fund - ACT 708
(HB 728 Lambert) - Establishes the State Highway Improvement Fund to finance
improvements on state highways not eligible for federal assistance. Monies
from state truck and trailer registration and license fees and taxes will be
deposited in the fund and appropriated on an annual basis. Beginning in the
2007-08 fiscal year, 25% of the available truck and trailer fees and taxes, an
estimated $10.3 million, will be deposited in the fund. The dedicated amount
increases by 25% each year after until 100% of the available fees and taxes,
about $44.3 million, are placed in the fund in the 2010-11 fiscal year. About
10% or 6,000 miles of state roadways do not qualify for federal highway
- Hurricane Protection -
- ACT 652 (SB 269 Dupre) - Provides
local levee districts more leeway to develop and oversee its own projects
for the construction, restoration and rehabilitation of levees. State law
previously limited such authority to projects costing $100,000 or less.
This measure raises the limit to $1 million for the next two years with
the legislature having the option of renewing the authority in 2008.
Increased authority does not apply to projects involving federal
- ACT 66 (SB 26 Dupre) -
Authorizes the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to serve as
the local sponsor for construction, operation and maintenance of all
hurricane, storm damage reduction and flood control projects in areas
under their jurisdiction. As the local sponsor, the authority may enter
into contracts with the federal government, the state, local governments
or private individuals and serve as the entity to provide any needed
matching funds for projects.
- ACT 181 (HB 452 Dove) - Requires the
nine levee boards in the coastal zone with tidal levees to submit a report
to DOTD every three years regarding the height of the levees, problems
with sinking and suggested corrective actions.
- ACT 297 (HB 1086 Dove) - Requires a
minimum 8-foot dune height for barrier island projects and requires DNR to
track the condition of the barrier islands on a regular basis and report
annually to the legislature.
Highway Safety Issues -
- Child Safety/Motorcycles - ACT 98 (HB
985 Baldone) - Requires children at least five years old to wear safety
helmets on motorcycles. Prohibits infants or toddlers from riding motorcycles
if they are otherwise required to be in a child car safety seat.
- Minor Alcohol Sales - ACT 570 (SB 101
McPherson) - Increases the penalties for serving or selling alcoholic
beverages to minors. The fines would increase from $100-$500 to $500 - $1000.
- Accident Deaths -
- ACT 294 (HB 1043 Greene) - Increases
the minimum mandatory jail sentence for vehicular homicide from one year
to three years. Keeps the maximum 30 year sentence.
- ACT 523 (SB 256 Adley) - Requires
the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident in which there is a death
to submit to a drug test and requires the coroner to conduct drug tests on
- Funeral Processions - ACT 751 (HB 240
Greene) - Prohibits a pedestrian or vehicle from breaking into a funeral
possession and requires all vehicles in the procession to use headlights and
flashers. Drivers would be allowed to pass processions, just not break into
the procession. Clarifies existing state law that prohibits operating tv
screens in the view of the driver to include video player screens.
- Underage Drivers - ACT 650 (SB 222
Mount) - Increases the penalties for a minors and others caught driving
without a license and holds a parent responsible for granting permission to an
unlicensed minor to drive. The unlicensed driver faces up to $500 in fines
and/or 6 months incarceration. If the unlicensed minor is involved in an
accident that results in serious bodily injury or death, the fine increases to
$1000. The parent faces up to $1000 in fines. The measure is in response to an
incident in Moss Bluff in 2004 when an unlicensed minor driver struck and
killed a young boy.
- Traffic Violations - ACT 195 (HB 694
Smiley) - Increases the penalties for drivers who run stoplights, stop signs
and yield signs. A driver faces the loss of their license if injury results.
Public Safety Issues -
- Sex Offenders & Child Sexual Abuse -
- ACT 325 (HB 4 McDonald) - Increases
penalties for the crime of molestation of a juvenile when the victim is 12
years of age or younger and increases penalties for the crime of
aggravated incest when the victim is under the age of 13 and the offender
is 17 years of age or older. The penalties are 25 years to life with at
least 25 years served without benefit of probation or parole. Upon
release, the offender is monitored by electronic means for the rest of
natural life with the offender picking up the cost of the monitoring if
- ACT 103 (SB 2 N. Gautreaux) -
Increases penalties for certain sex crimes committed against a juvenile
under 13 years of age by an offender over the age of 17. Minimum 25 years
in prison without suspension of sentence, probation or parole. After
release, offender must wear electronic tracking device - at the expense of
the offender - for the rest of his natural life. The increased penalties
apply to the crimes of sexual battery, second degree sexual battery, oral
sexual battery, pornography involving a juvenile and molestation of a
juvenile. Penalties will also increase for the crime of indecent behavior
with a juvenile when the victim is under the age of 13 and the offender is
over the age of 17 with up to 25 years in prison and at least two years
without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. The new
law is known as the "Mary Jean Thigpen Law" in memory of a
four-year-old Calcasieu Parish child who was raped and murdered by a
twice-convicted sex offender who had recently been released from prison.
- ACT 242 (HB 1369 Geymann) -
Requires that sex offenders whose victims are under the age of 13 shall be
subject to supervised release after the completion of their sentences.
Supervised release includes mandatory monthly meetings, registration, drug
testing and possible curfews. Applies to those convicted after Aug. 15,
- ACT 186 (HB 572 Cravins) -
Creates the Sex Offender Assessment Panel to evaluate every sex offender
prior to release to determine if he is a sexually violent predator. An
offender determined to be a sexually violent predator upon release will be
required to register and provide community notification for life and to be
monitored electronically for life. If possible, the offender will be
required to pay for the monitoring. Applies to convictions and releases on
or after Aug. 15. 2006.
- ACT 72 (HB 9 Smiley)
- Adds the
crime of aggravated incest to the list of crimes designated as a violent
- ACT 137 (HB 64 Dorsey) -
Creates the crime of harboring or concealing a sex offender. $5000 fine
and/or up to five years jail with two years mandatory.
- ACT 663 (SB 612 Mount) - Requires
the drivers’ licenses of convicted sex offenders to include the words
sex offender in orange type. requires sex offenders to also carry an
identification card with the same information. Both the license and the
identification card must be renewed yearly. Requires state police to
establish a predator alert system that includes notifying local law
enforcement when a sex offender is released from jail.
- ACT 354 (HB 983 Cazayoux) - Establishes
the Sexual Predator Apprehension Team in the attorney general’s office to
enhance the state’s effort to apprehend sexual offenders and persons
required to register as a sex offender.
- Minors & Video Games -
- ACT 441 (HB 1381 Burrell) - Bans the
sale of violent video games to minors (under 18 years of age). The new
felony crime carries a sentence of up to one year in prison and a maximum
$2000 fine. Establishes a three-prong test for judges to use to determine
whether a game is violent including whether an average person would find
that the game appeals to the minor’s morbid interest in violence;
whether a game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to the
prevailing community standards and whether the game lacks serious
literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors. ***U.S.
District Judge James Brady has issued a temporary restraining order
barring authorities from enforcing this new law after associations
representing video game merchants and developers filed suit raising
questions about the law’s constitutionality.***
- ACT 529 (SB 340 Cain) - Prohibits
the sale of sexually explicit video games to minors. Basically brings
video games into the existing state law that bars the sale of sexually
explicit magazines, newspapers and other suggestive materials to minors.
Requires identification to purchase such videos. Violators face up to one
year in prison and a maximum $2000 fine.
- Domestic Abuse -
- ACT 559 (SB 10 N. Gautreaux)
Increases the penalties for domestic abuse battery when a child is
endangered or when the victim of the domestic abuse is pregnant.
- ACT 613 (SB 597 Dardenne) –
Requires the Secretary of State to establish a procedure to shield
addresses of registered voters who are victims of abuse and fear for their
safety. The addresses remain shielded for 4 years, except when requested
by court order or law enforcement, as authorized by law. Program
participants waive their right to vote on election day or in early voting,
but may vote by mail.
- Citizens’ Self-Protection Rights - ACT 141
& ACT 786 (HB 89 &
HB1097 LaFleur) - These two measures strengthen
existing law regarding a citizen’s justifiable use of lethal force to
protect themselves from an intruder in their homes, businesses or vehicles.
The measures state that there shall be a presumption that the use of force is
necessary in such cases and that the criminals or their families cannot sue
the person using the force.
- Resisting Arrest Crimes - ACT 132 (HB 26
Martiny) - Adds to the crime of resisting an officer to include interfering
with or resisting an officer in the lawful act of detaining a person. Includes
the refusal of the detainee or arrested person to identify themselves as
- Computer Assisted Hunting - ACT 745 (HB
52 Hammett) - Prohibits computer assisted hunting which involved using a
computer to remotely control a gun without being on site to shoot the animal.
- Funeral Disturbances -ACT 805 (HB 1364
Thompson) - Adds disturbances at funerals to the crime of disturbing the peace
with increased penalties for the crime. $100 fine and/or 6 months jail.
- Unauthorized Use of a Soldier’s Name -ACT
239 (HB 1304 Robideaux) - Outlaws the use of a deceased soldier’s
name or photo to sell items or advertise businesses without the consent of the
soldier before his death or the consent of the soldier’s family.
- Drug Abuse Crimes -
- ACT 51 (HB 51 Schneider)
penalties for unlawfully prescribing, dispensing or assisting in illegally
obtaining controlled dangerous substances from a fine of $5000 to $50,000
in the Pain Management Clinic Drug Abuse and Overdose Prevention Act.
- ACT 676 (HB 153 Johns) - Proposed in
cooperation with pharmacists and physicians to tackle so-called doctor
shopping, this measure requires the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to develop
an electronic prescription monitoring program to improve the state’s
ability to identify and inhibit the diversion of controlled dangerous
substances and drugs. The program will be funded through a fee imposed on
pharmacy permit fees and licenses.
- ACT 600 (SB 467 Fontenot) - Requires
pharmacists to require patients or the patient’s representative to show
photo identification when purchasing or receiving any controlled dangerous
substance, unless the person is known to the pharmacist. Encourages all
practitioners to notify law enforcement when they have a good faith belief
that an individual is obtaining a fraudulent prescription for a controlled
- Release of Defendants -
- ACT 327 (HB 87 White)
hospitals to notify law enforcement officials when a person with an
outstanding arrest warrant or summons is released if the officials have
certified the warrant or summons in writing to the hospital and have
requested in writing that the hospital provide notification of the
release. The notification must be made as soon as reasonably possible.
- Flag Burning - ACT 506 (SB 25 Cain)
- Creates a state crime of burning the American flag punishable by 90 days in
jail and/or a maximum fine of $1000. The law is not enforceable until an
amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting desecration of the flag is
proposed and approved.
- Fire Retardant Mattresses - ACT 557 (SB
6 Shepherd) - Requires all bed mattresses and box springs sold or made in
Louisiana to meet certain fire-resistance standards. The bill is in response
to a Marrero apartment fire last year that killed 11 people.
Corrections & the Judiciary -
- Judgeship Qualifications - ACT 860 (HB
13 Greene)(CA) - Constitutional amendment to increase the years of experience
required to run for the office of judge at the district, appellate and supreme
court level. Requires a minimum of eight years experience as a member of the
Louisiana bar prior to the election for district level judges and a minimum of
10 years for appellate and supreme court judges. Reduces the time in which a
candidate for judge must reside in his respective district prior to the
election from two years to one. The proposed change will be considered by
voters in the Sept. 2006 statewide election. The requirements will be
effective with elections on or after Jan. 1, 2008.
- Sentencing & Release Issues -
- ACT 572 (SB 129 Jones) - Allows
future inmates who begin their sentence after August 15, 2006 to reduce
their sentences by 35 days for every 30 days of earned "good
time". The reduced sentence will not apply to those convicted of
violent, drug-related or sex crimes.
- ACT 581 (SB 228 Jones) - Allows
judges, with the consent of the district attorney, to sentence certain
third offenders convicted of non-violent or drug crimes to drug court
programs with the alternative sentencing running no less than two years or
more than five years.
- ACT 113 (SB 180 Jones)
- Limits the
time served by someone on probation or parole who commits a technical
violation to 90 days rather than having to serve out the rest of their
original sentence. A technical violation includes things like not checking
in with a parole officer in a timely fashion.
- ACT 45 (SB 126 Jones) - Expands the
state law allowing certain qualified convicted criminals to seek a reduced
sentence before the Louisiana Risk Review Panel to include those who
committed crimes, were convicted or sentenced prior to June 15, 2001.
- ACT 811 (HB 1403 Richmond) -
Prevents the release of any defendant on his own recognizance if the
arrest is in connection with an alleged felony offense involving the use,
discharge or possession of a firearm.
Children & Family Issues
- Marriage & Divorce -
- ACT 743 (HB 1379 E. Alexander) -
Changes state divorce laws to require a couple with children under the age
of 18 to live separate and apart for one year, rather than the current six
month requirement, before a no-fault divorce is granted. The longer
waiting period will not apply to families where a hearing determines that
there is physical or sexual abuse in the home. The effective date of the
new requirement is Jan. 1, 2007. Twelve other states have waiting periods
of one year or longer.
- ACT 249 (HB 121
Johns) - Clarifies
current state law regarding covenant marriages to prevent the dissolution
of such a marriage by mutual consent of both parties. A spouse in a
covenant marriage may only obtain a divorce by proving adultery,
abandonment, abuse, living separate and apart or a felony conviction with
a sentence of death or hard labor.
- Child Support Enforcement -
- ACT 375 (HB 355 Triche) -
Provides the state with additional tools to collect owed child support.
Authorizes the state child support enforcement agency to administratively
access cell phone, cable TV and other records in an attempt to locate the
offending parent. A court order is now required for such access.
- ACT 121 (SB 407 Lentini) - Requires
parents who are behind on child-support payments to surrender payments
from progressive-slot machine jackpot annuities to DSS. The Louisiana
Gaming Control Board will set up procedures for withholding such payments.
- ACT 772 (HB 778 Hunter) - Authorizes
a parent who has obtained a judgment of past due child support to file a
notice of privilege over the motor vehicle of the person owing the
support. The notice will be filed with the Office of Motor Vehicles.
Although the privilege will be subordinate to existing loans on the
vehicle, the courts may order the delinquent parent to surrender the
vehicle title to the owed spouse.
Education Issues -
- Unfunded Mandates on Local Schools - ACT 855
(SB 296 Quinn)
- Proposes a change in the State Constitution to prohibit
the legislature from passing laws that cost local school systems significant
dollars unless the state provides the funding or the new law is approved by
two-thirds vote of the legislature. This requirement already exists for other
local political bodies. The unfunded mandates prohibition will not apply to
the MFP or the school accountability program. Voters will consider the
constitutional amendment at the statewide general election in September, 2006.
- Dual Enrollment Pilot Program - ACT 668
(SB 749 Nevers)
- Sets up a two-year pilot program in two parishes beginning
in 2007 to allow dual enrollment between high schools and community technical
colleges for students between the ages of 16 and 21. BESE will oversee
implementation of the program with plans to expand it statewide by 2010. This
is an effort to address the state’s high school dropout rate by providing
alternative job training and educational programs for the students. The goal
is to enroll at least 10% of the identified potential dropouts in the
participating school systems in the dual enrollment programs.
- Textbook Inspections - ACT 804 (HB 1334
Crowe) - Expands the length of time from 60 to 90 days for the public to
inspect proposed new public school textbooks at various public libraries
around the state. Increases the number of libraries that must offer the
textbooks for inspection and allows the public to check out the books for
- Foster Children College Tuition - ACT 738
(HB 1287 C. Gray) - Provides free college tuition and exemption from mandatory
fees for foster care children at public colleges and universities. The program
does not take effect until the money to fund the program - about $425,000 a
year - is appropriated.
- College Student Vaccinations - ACT 711 (HB
768 Strain) - Establishes a phased-in process for the required vaccination of
Louisiana college students against bacterial meningitis, beginning with
first-time college freshmen and students living in campus housing. Students
who have a medical reason to not be vaccinated or have religious objections
are exempt. ***Because of a shortage of the vaccine, this measure replaces an
earlier bill passed at the session that mandated the vaccination for all
students at public colleges and universities beginning with the 2006 fall
Public Health & Health Care Issues -
- Smoking Issues -
- ACT 815 (SB 742 Marionneaux)
Establishes the Louisiana Smokefree Air Act which bans smoking in most
public facilities including restaurants. Allows smoking in casinos, race
tracks, bars, designated smoking rooms in hotels, retail tobacco stores,
privately hired limousines, outdoor areas at restaurants and designated,
well-ventilated areas at nursing homes. Smoking will also be allowed in
state, local and private correctional facilities until Aug. 15, 2009.
Violators of the state smoking ban face fines of $25 to $500 depending on
the number of offenses and whether or not the violator is a smoker or a
facility that does not comply. It is estimated that about 1200 deaths each
year in Louisiana are attributable to second-hand smoke. The effective
date of the smoking ban is Jan. 1, 2007.
- ACT 838 (HB 1010 Gary Smith) -
Prohibits smoking in a vehicle carrying a child in a child restraint or
safety seat. Children up to 8 years of age are usually required to ride in
safety seats. Violators face $150 fine or community service.
- Health Care Policy & Financing -
- HCR 127
(Durand) - Creates the
Louisiana Health Care Redesign Collaborative, composed of a cross-section
of health care interest groups, to assist in the development of
recommendations and plans to for the redesign of the health care system in
the Orleans area. A committee of the collaborative will serves as an
advisory body to the secretary of DHH for the development of
recommendations and plans for the redesign of the health care system in
the Hurricane Rita-impacted areas. Reports on both efforts are due no
later than Dec. 31, 2007. *Since the passage of the resolution, the LRA
and representatives of the collaborative signed an agreement to provide
the federal government with a plan to build a new health care delivery
system in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes by Oct.
20, 2006. The federal government wants the new system to provide for
health-care dollars to follow patients rather than institutions; to pay
doctors and hospitals more for improved care and services; to give senior
citizens and the disabled more options for home-based care rather than
- ACT 465 (SB
562 Bajoie) - Creates
the office for aging services within DHH to better focus and coordinate
the delivery of long-term care services to the elderly.
- ACT 848 (SB 613 Cheek) - Places
in state law the Medicaid reimbursement formula for nursing homes
previously defined by state rule. Also allows a nursing home to have its
rates adjusted every three months, instead of once a year. State budget
cuts to nursing homes will still be allowed, but only according to the
formula. Supporters say the law is needed to provide more stability for
the industry as to financing.
- ACT 801 (HB 1262 Salter) -
Requires DHH to develop a plan to increase pharmacy dispensing rates up to
$15 per prescription, with the increased rates taking effect Jan. 1, 2007.
The increase is dependent on available funds appropriated for the increase
and funds generated from savings realized through the implementation of
changes in other reimbursement rates mandated by the federal government.
The plan will be submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services (CMS) and, if approved, then submitted to the Commissioner of
Administration and the Joint Budget Committee for approval. The rate
increases are necessary because of action taken by Congress that
significantly reduced the reimbursement rates for the ingredient costs of
generic prescription drugs in the medical assistant program. The federal
rate reductions are threatening the existence of small, independent
- Donation of Surplus Drugs -
- ACT 643 (SB 19 McPherson) -
Requires hospitals, health care facilities and governmental entities
enrolled in the Medicaid program, except those operated by an agency or
department of the executive branch, to attempt to donate intact
single-unit doses of surplus medications to charitable pharmacies. If the
pharmacy is located more than 20 miles from the facility, the charitable
pharmacy will have the responsibility of picking up the drugs.
- ACT 797 (HB 1235 Labruzzo) -
Authorizes the same hospitals, health care facilities and governmental
entities outlined in SB 19 to offer the surplus drugs to the state
corrections department for use in penal institutions.
- Community & Family Support - ACT 555 (SB
746 Broome) - Creates the Community and Family Support System Fund to accept
money generated from the sale or lease of property operated by the state
Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. The use of money,
appropriated on an annual basis once funds are available, is limited to
increasing the number of "waiver" slots available for
developmentally disabled citizens opting for home and community-based
services. This year there are almost 15,000 people on the waiver waiting list
with the average wait to be eligible for the alternative assistance 11 years.
About 1500 people are still living in nine state-run development centers, down
from about 6000 several years ago. About 400 new waiver slots have been added
over the past four years and the 06-07 budget includes funding for additional
Government Reform, Ethics & Campaign Finance
- Orleans Parish Government Consolidiation -
- Courts, Sheriffs, Etc. - ACT 621 (SB
645 Mount) - In an effort to address the fragmented and inefficient
Orleans Parish court system and related offices, this measure consolidates
the various operations of the judiciary. Creates the 41st
Judicial District Court as of Jan. 1, 2009, merging the civil and criminal
courts with the current juvenile court merged into the new district by
Jan. 1, 2015. Combines the criminal and civil sheriffs into one office and
the civil and criminal clerks’ offices into one civil clerk office by
May 3, 2010. The offices of recorder of mortgages, register of conveyances
and custodian of notarial archive will be abolished Jan. 1, 2009 with the
duties transferred to the civil clerks’ office. The measure allows all
current elected officials to complete their full terms to 2010. Starting
Jan. 1, 2007, the expense funds of the courts will be merged with an
eight-judge panel to administer the fund. A previously authorized state
Supreme Court study to determine the number of judges needed in all courts
across the state will continue.
- Assessors - ACT 863 (SB 141
Duplessis) (CA) ACT 622 (SB 647 Statute) - Proposes a change in the
state constitution to reduce the number of assessors in New Orleans from
seven to one. Will be considered at Nov. 7 2006 statewide election. The
constitutional amendment must be approved by a majority of the voters
statewide and by a majority of the voters in Orleans Parish. If approved
by voters, the consolidation detailed in the statute will be effective
Jan. 1, 2007. Supporters estimate the move will save the parish over
$650,000 a year.
- Public Contracts - ACT 849 (HB 850
Beard) - Prohibits people with contracts, subcontracts, etc. for hurricane
recovery activity when those contracts are not publicly and competitively bid
from making campaign contributions to elected officials with jurisdiction over
the work. Prohibits elected officials from receiving such contributions.
Prohibition effective for three years from the effective date.
- Secretary of State Campaign Contributions
Prohibition - ACT 415 (HB 1051
Cazayoux) - Prohibits the secretary of
state as the state’s chief elections officer from being involved in
national, state, or local party politics and prohibits that person from
endorsing a candidate or raising money for other candidates. The restrictions
are similar to those imposed on judges.
- Nepotism Exceptions -
- ACT 833 (HB 675 McVea) - In an
effort to meet the needs of small, rural school districts as to qualified
administrators and the retention of qualified educators in the school
system, this measure expands exceptions in current ethics law as to the
employment of an immediate relative of a member of governing authority by
that authority to allow parishes with a population of 26,000 or less to
promote a classroom teacher to an administrative position, even if the
classroom teacher is the relative of a school board member of school
- ACT 798 (HB 1239 Monica Walker) -
Authorizes members of zoning commissions in parishes with fewer than
50,000 people to not vote on issues before them when a conflict of
Elections Issues -
- Early Voting Issues -
- Pilot Program - ACT 349 (HB 674
Waddell) - Authorizes secretary of state to set up a pilot program in up
to four parishes to allow early voting in remote locations. The pilot
program requires the pilot between Sept. 1, 2006 and Jan. 1, 2008. The
pilot early voting program could not be applied to more than four
elections. Requires a report back to the legislature by March 1, 2008.
- ACT 569 (SB 86 Jones) - Requires
registrar of voters’ offices to remain open until 4:30 PM on the
Saturday during early voting. Current law sets the Saturday early voting
hours between 8:30 AM and noon.
Election Dates -
- ACT 705 (HB 604 Mike
Powell)- Eliminates the January election date for local elections. estimated
savings of about $525,000. Will still have the July election date
specifically for local elections.
- ACT 560 (SB 18 Fields)
- Eliminates the state’s open primary election system for Congressional
elections which has been in place for some 30 years and creates a closed
"party" system for congressional seats. Republican and
Democratic primaries will occur in September with any needed run-off
occurring in October. The general election will occur in November as in
other states. Independent voters will chose which party primary to vote
in, if the party decides to allow independent voting. Effective Jan. 1,
2007, if the new primary process is approved by the U.S. Justice
- ACT 845 (HB 1307 Hutter) -
Moves the date of the presidential preference primary in Louisiana from
the second Tuesday in March to the second Saturday in February. If the
February date falls during Mardi Gras, the primary shall occur on the
third Saturday in February. Supporters hope holding the presidential
primary earlier will attract more presidential hopefuls to Louisiana and
force the candidates to focus more on Louisiana’s needs. The early
primary date will place Louisiana 15th in the list of
primaries rather than 32nd and the state will no longer be
competing with Texas and Florida for candidates’ attention during the
- Candidate Disqualification - ACT 598 (SB
427 Chaisson) - Requires state election officials to disqualify a candidate
who signs up to run for more than one office in the same election from all
races except the last office for which qualifying papers were filed.
- Term of Office Changes - ACT 403 (HB
909 Bruneau) - Included in this bill addressing routine changes in state
election law is a clause that ties the official beginning of a member of the
legislature’s term of office, when that member is elected to fill an
unexpired term in a special election, to the date the member takes the oath
of office before the full Senate or House. The change effects two current
members of the legislature who would be term limited at the end of this term
without the change in election law since the delay in the
"official" swearing-in date means these two members served less
than two years of one term. Generally, a legislator’s term of office
elected in a special election begins when the election results are certified
and their commission is sworn and signed. However, the state constitution
says the members of the legislature judge the qualifications of the
Retirement & Public Employee Issues
Retirement Cost of Living Increases - SCR 94
(B. Gautreaux) - Authorizes a 2.4% cost of living increase for most
retired state workers. The raise will apply to about 32,000 retired state
workers who are members of the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System and
are at least 55 and have been retired for at least one year. As required by
state law, the raise is funded from better-than-expected return on
investments. Retirees last received a raise four years ago. The cost of living
rose by 3.4% in 2005 alone.
- Early Retirement/State Employee Reductions - ACT
672 (HB 45 Triche) - Allows state employees early retirement if at least
50 years old and have ten years of service at a reduced benefit rate.
Participants will receive a retirement benefit equal to as much as 2% of their
average compensation multiplied by the number of years of creditable service.
Only one in every 3 positions left vacant can be refilled in any fiscal year.
Certain agencies and departments are exempt from the "no rehire"
requirement. To take advantage of the program, employees will have to retire
from Jan. 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2008. It is estimated that the early
retirement, employee reduction measure will save the state about $1 million in
the coming year.
- Retirement Benefit Computation Changes - ACT
780 (HB 922 Schneider) - Beginning July 1, 2006, changes the average
compensation calculation period from 36 months to 60 months for new employees
in the following retirement systems - assessors, clerks of court, municipal
employees, parochial employees, registrars of voters and sheriffs. A series of
other bills addressing different issues in the school employees’ retirement
system were amended to include school employees in the new calculation
- Firefighters’ Survivor Benefits - ACT 480 (HB
586 Greene) - Increases the benefits to the surviving spouse or if there is no
spouse, the surviving children of a police officer or firefighter killed in
the line of duty from $150,000 to $250,000. Keeps current law that provides an
additional $25,000 to each surviving child and $250,000 to designated
beneficiary or estate. Makes the changes retroactive to July 11, 2005 to make
sure the families of two officers killed in the line of duty last year are
eligible for the increased benefits.
- Public Officials Payraises -
- ACT 638 (HB 126 Toomy) -
Increases the salaries of state judges by nearly 10% over two years. Since
sheriffs’ pay is tied to judicial salaries, the measure also increases
sheriffs’ pay. The judges’ pay raises amount to between $9000 and
$10,000 more a year when the raises are fully implemented. The pay of
Louisiana Supreme Court judges will increase to $129,187 from $118,301.
The pay of court of appeals judges increases to $122,583 from $112,040
now. The pay of district and municipal judge will increase to $116,400
from $105,780. The cost of the judges’ raises in the coming budget year
are $4 million. The Judicial Compensation Commission, which recommended
the raises, notes that even with the raises, district judges in Louisiana
will still make about $5000 less than the southern regional average. The
sheriffs’ salary increases are dependent on local funds.
- ACT 790 (HB 1178 Toomy) -
Increases the salaries of parish assistant district attorneys by $10,000
over two years. The assistant DA’s have not received a state pay raise
since 1991. The cost of the raise once fully implemented is $5.8 million.
Gambling Issues -
- Fair Grounds Race Track Slots - ACT 591
(SB 353 Murray) - Authorizes 700 slot machines, with no required phase-in, at
the Fair Grounds race track in New Orleans. As required in current law, the
Gaming Control Board has certified that revenues at Harrahs Casino have
reached the required level to allow the slot machines at the race track. The
measure also increases the allocation of slot revenue from the track for the
Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation from $350,000 to $1 million.
Other Issues -
- Abortion Prohibition - ACT 467 (SB
33 Nevers) - Prohibits abortions except to save the life of the mother or to
prevent substantial risk of death due to a physical condition or to prevent
the permanent damage of a life-sustaining organ. There is no exception for
rape or incest, although the bill does allow rape and incest victims to seek
contraceptive treatment after an attack to try to prevent fertilization. Such
treatments are usually administered within 72 hours to be effective. The
abortion ban does not take effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the
Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion procedures. There is already
language in Louisiana law that says the state allows abortions only because
the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that abortions are legal and states that if
that ruling is ever overturned then the former policy of prohibiting abortions
shall be enforced. Penalties for the person performing the abortion are 1- 10
years in jail and/or fines of $10,000 to $100,000.
- Ten Commandments Display - ACT 602 (SB
476 Cain) - Authorizes the display of the Ten Commandments, as extracted from
the Bible, and other documents of religious historical significance such as
the Mayflower Compact in government buildings. The bill is modeled after Texas
law that was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States as
to the separation of government and religion.
- Prestige License Plates - ACT 303 (HB
1257 Scalise) - Creates two new prestige license plates, one in support of our
troops and one to promote motorcycle awareness and safety. Both tags must have
at least 1000 motorists to request the tags before they are issued. The $25
special tag fee for the troops plate will go to Support Our Troops, Inc. The
tag fee for the motorcycle tag will finance motorcycle safety programs.
- State Cultural Poem - ACT 843 (HB
1291 Smiley) - Designates "I Am Louisiana" by Jackson Mississippi
radio personality Paul Ott and performed by the late humorist Justin Wilson of
Amite as the state’s cultural poem. Louisiana already has an official Senate
poem and an official judicial poem.