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Week 10 Reg. Session 2012

Week 10 Reg. Session 2012

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Published by RepNLandry
Summary of Louisiana House of Representatives action - week 10 - 2012 Regular Legislative Session
Summary of Louisiana House of Representatives action - week 10 - 2012 Regular Legislative Session

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Published by: RepNLandry on May 20, 2012
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06/28/2012

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1
HOUSE NOTES
 
The Latest News from the State CapitolLouisiana House of RepresentativesRegular SessionMay 18, 2012
The House this week passed several budget-related bills.
,legislation to allow funds to be moved amongvarious state funds passed by a vote of 63-38.
, the legislativeappropriations bill, was sent to the Senate for further consideration. The bill includes astandstill budget for the House and a 10 percent increase for the Senate.Also passing was
, theCapital Outlay plan for state construction. The bill passed the House by a vote of 85-2.A compromise was announced between landowners and oil companiesconcerning environmental damage claims better known as "legacy lawsuits". Under thecompromise, parties involved can admitresponsibility for damage without admittingliability for private damages. Once thisoccurs, the Dept. of Natural Resources willdevelop a plan to protect the environment, public health, safety and welfare of the state.The plan will then come under the oversightof the secretaries of the departments of  Natural Resources and Environmental Qualityand the Commissioner of Agriculture. The plan and comments of the agencies involvedwill be admissible in court. During this process, no communication will be allowed between any employee, contractor or representative of the state.
DRUG TESTING FOR WELFARERECIPIENTS
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, approved by a vote of 65-26, would require participants in theIndependence Temporary Assistance Program(FITAP) to consent to possible random drugtesting.Present law provides for theDepartment of Children and Family Services(DCFS) to institute a mandatory drug testing program for certain adult recipients of publicassistance. Under HB380, twenty percent of all recipients of FITAP, chosen at random,would be required to be drug-tested.Additionally, the proposed law requiresthat testing shall comply with standards utilized by the Department of Health and Hospitals,Office of Behavioral Health. All FITAPrecipients would be required to sign a writtenconsent form to drug testing and any FITAPrecipients that do not sign the consent formwould not be eligible to receive FITAP cash benefits. DCFS would be authorized to promulgate rules and adopt regulations whichwould provide for the cost of the initial testingof the participants. The cost associated with allsubsequent drug screening of a participant shall be borne by the participant.HB380 specifies that a participant whofails to complete the required education andrehabilitation program within 90 days will besuspended from participation in the cashassistance program for a period of one year from the date of a positive drug screen or untilthe satisfactory completion of the program.The proposed law provides that a participant who is subsequently identified by averified positive test result as an illegal druguser will be suspended from participation in thecash assistance program for one year from the
 
2date of the positive drug screen. Thesuspended participant would be required toreapply for assistance after the suspension period and completion of the reentry programrequired by law. HB380 also prohibits thesuspension of a participant from the cashassistance program while the participant istaking part in the education and rehabilitation program, or when the participant is activelyengaged in treatment that exceeds 90 days, or when an education and rehabilitation programis unavailable to the participant.The bill was amended on the Housefloor specifying the child welfare division of the department shall investigate, withoutexception, every case in which an applicantwith children, who is otherwise eligible for FITAP benefits, is denied based on the failureto complete the required education andrehabilitation program or a subsequent positive drug screen as provided withinseventy-two hours of the denial.Finally, the proposed law provides thatif the FITAP Drug Testing and TreatmentFund has deposits sufficient to administer testing of more than 20% of adults, the percentage testing will be based on theadequacy of the fund.If approved, House Bill 380 would become effective on January 1, 2013.
SEX OFFENSE
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, which has receivedfinal legislative approval, creates the crime of unlawful use of a social networking website.House Bill 620 provides that it shall beunlawful for sex offenders who are required toregister as a sex offender to use socialnetworking websites and repeals the presentlaw prohibition on the use or access of chatrooms or peer-to-peer networks.The proposed law also removes the provision in present law that allows the sexoffender to get permission to use socialnetworking websites from his probation or  parole officer or the court of original jurisdiction.The House Bill 620 definition of "socialnetworking website" includes the following:(1) A "social networking website" shall onlyinclude those Internet web sites of which the primary purpose is facilitating socialinteraction with other users of the website andallows users to create web pages or profilesabout themselves that are available to the public or other users and offers a mechanismfor communication among users.(2) A "social networking website" shall notinclude an Internet website with the primary purpose of facilitating commercial transactionsor the dissemination of news, or which provides only one of the following services: photo-sharing, electronic mail, or instantmessenger.Finally, House Bill 620 provides for notice of this crime to sex offenders.
HOMICIDE/TAXI DRIVERS
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, which awaitsconsideration by the full House, adds thekilling of a taxicab driver to the crime of firstdegree murder.Under this proposed law, a first degreemurder is committed when the offender has aspecific intent to kill or to inflict great bodilyharm upon a taxicab driver who is in the courseand scope of his employment.The legislation defines "taxicab" as amotor vehicle for hire, carrying six passengersor less, including the driver thereof, that issubject to call from a garage, office, taxi stand,or otherwise.
MUSEUM CLOSURES
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would authorize theDepartment of State to temporarily closemuseums under its jurisdiction when no fundsare appropriated for the operation of thefacilities. These museums include the OldState Capitol, the La. State Exhibit Museum,the La. State Cotton Museum, the La. State Oil& Gas Museum, the Garyville TimbermillMuseum, the Livingston Parish Museum &Cultural Center, the La. Delta Music Museum,
 
3the La.Military Museum, the Jean LafitteMarine Fisheries Museum, the Tioga HeritagePark & Museum, the Mansfield FemaleCollege Museum, the Shreveport Water Works Museum, the Chennault Aviation&Military Museum, the Spring Street HistoricalMuseum, the La. Military Hall of Fame&Museum, the Germantown Colony Museum,the Schepis Museum and the Eddie G.Robinson Museum. The Department of Statewould be required to maintain the facilitiesduring any period of temporary closure.The bill also provides that theDepartment of State may accept and use gifts,grants, bequests, donations, endowments, or funds from any public or private source tosupport the operations of the museum.Senate Bill 268 is pending House final passage.
TEACHERS RETIREMENT
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, pending Senateconcurrence, allows rehired retirees re-employed as substitute teachers or instructorsof adult education or literacy programs toreceive benefits during reemployment.The legislation provides that theretired teacher's earnings from his return toactive service shall not exceed twenty-five percent of his benefit during any fiscal year. If the actual earnings exceed this amount, the benefits payable to the retiree shall be reduced by the amount in excess of twenty-five percentof his benefit.If any retired member returns to activeservice in a position qualifying him as aretired teacher under more than one provisionof SB19 providing for an earnings limitationof twenty-five percent of his retirement benefitin any fiscal year, the twenty-five percentearnings limitation shall apply to the totalearnings of such a retired teacher for all such positions in such fiscal year.Under present law, a retired teacher isdefined as any retired member who returns towork full-time or part-time as a classroomteacher offering instructional services to anystudent in grades K through 12 in a"criticalshortage area"; any retired member who returnsto active service as a full-time certified speechtherapist, speech pathologist, or audiologistwhose position of employment requires a validLa. ancillary certificate approved and issued bythe state Dept. of Education in a school districtwhere a shortage exists; and any retiredmember who returns to active service on or  before June 30, 2010. SB19 includes retireeswho are re-employed as substitute pre-K through 12 classroom teachers. SB19 adds (a)retired members who are instructing adultsthrough adult education of literacy programsadministered through a public institution of elementary or secondaryeducation, and (b) retired members who holdadvanced degrees in speech therapy, speech pathology and audiology.Employer reporting dates are changedto within 45 days after June 30 and no longer required to be made to the House and Senatecommittees on retirement. Instead, theinformation would be reported directly to theTeachers Retirement System of Louisiana(TRSL). The employer would be liable toTRSL for any overpayment of benefits.
RE-EMPLOYMENT
*
, which has completedthe legislative process, would allow retiredTRSL members rehired as adjunct professors toreceive benefits during reemployment.Under this legislation, "adjunct professor" shall mean part-time faculty,including instructors, assistant professors,associate professors, and professors, assignedthe professional activities of instructing pupilsor conducting research at a public institution of  postsecondary education. Such instruction may be provided in person or through an approvedmedium such as television, radio, computer,Internet, multimedia telephone, or correspondence and may be delivered inside or outside the classroom or in other teacher-student settings.Such an adjunct professor's earnings

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