Louisiana House of Representatives Communications Office 2013 Regular Session Week Five, May 10, 2013
House members arrived at a consensus this week to give their bipartisan approval for the state's $24.7 billion budget bill, House Bill 1. The following are highlights of some of the issues considered this week. BUDGETARY REFORM * The House approved House Bill 620 by a vote of 92-2, which would require separate appropriations bills for discretionary and nondiscretionary spending in the executive budget. HB620 provides that it shall take effect only if House Bills 434, 435, and 436 of the 2013 Regular Session of the Legislature are concurred in by both houses of the legislature and House Bills 1, 456, 474, 571, 620, 653, and 696 of the 2013 Regular Session of the Legislature are enacted into law: if one of these bills fails, they all fail. * House Bill 434, approved by a vote of 90-2, is a proposed constitutional amendment which would require spending be considered in a separate appropriation bill from spending that is not required to be funded, if health care or higher education funding is reduced. * House Bill 435, approved 87-9, a proposed constitutional amendment, is similar to House Bill 437, approved 86-10, which provides that the executive budget and the appropriations bill shall not include recommendations for appropriations from any fund in excess of the official Revenue
Estimating Conference forecast of money available for appropriation from that fund. * The House approved House Bill 436 by a vote of 90-9, a proposed constitutional amendment, which provides for the last day for final passage of the general appropriation bill: (1) In a regular session in even-numbered years, final passage in the House must occur by 6:00 p.m. of the 42nd calendar day, and in the Senate by 6:00 p.m. of the 60th calendar day. (2) In a regular session in odd-numbered years, final passage in the House must occur by 6:00 p.m. of the 17th calendar day and in the Senate by 6:00 p.m. of the 35th calendar day. VENDOR COMPENSATION * House Bill 653, approved by a vote of 81 yeas, 16 nays, would reduce the rate of dealer compensation tax to 1%, and caps the monthly dollar amount of the compensation at $100 per dealer. The bill also authorizes and directs the secretary of Revenue to employ all means available to ensure collection of consumer use taxes in an equitable, efficient, and effective manner. FREEDOM TO CHOOSE HEALTHCARE * House Bill 429, pending House Civil
Law and Procedure, would prohibit the mandatory participation in a health care system, directly or indirectly, for any person, employer, or health care provider. The instrument provides that a person or employer may pay directly for health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful healthcare services. Additionally, a health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health care services and shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a person or employer for lawful health care services. Finally, the purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems shall not be prohibited by law or rule. House Bill 429, a proposed constitutional amendment, would be submitted to voters at the next statewide election held November 4, 2014. SOUND RECORDING TAX CREDITS House Bill 358, pending House final passage, would remove the January 1, 2015 sunset date for issuance of tax credits against state income tax for investments made in state-certified musical recording projects. The instrument makes the credit permanent, and lowers the credit threshold for Louisiana residents from $15,000 to $5,000. BIOSCIENCES/MEDICAL CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE * House Bill 549 would establish the MediFund as a special fund within the treasury to support regional and national medical centers of excellence within Louisiana, promote destination health care, contribute to the improvement of health outcomes, support research and clinical partnerships, and facilitate a process for
funding programs. The proposed legislation specifies that funding for MediFund may come from state appropriation, federal funds, public or private donations, gifts, or grants from individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, or other business entities. The legislation establishes the MediFund Board within the Board of Regents, and provides for its powers, membership, and reporting requirements. House Bill 549 is scheduled for floor debate May14. SCHOOL READINESS TAX CREDITS Current law provides a refundable income or franchise tax credit for those involved with care of children under 5, including those purchasing the care, providers, directors, staff and businesses paying for child care expenses, and administered by the Department of Children and Family Services. The Department of Revenue issues the credits. * House Bill 698 repeals current law pertaining to school readiness tax credits on July 1, 2015, and instead, authorizes on the same date a nonrefundable income tax credit to be aligned with the Early Childhood Care and Education Network which promotes kindergarten readiness in eligible, early childhood learning centers and evaluates them using BESE's letter grade system. The legislation creates the Child Care Development Fund, and provides for administrative authority for the distribution and management of school readiness tax credits associated with the fund. House Bill 698 awaits consideration on the House floor.
TRIBAL POLICE/CORRECTIONS OFFICERS SURVIVOR BENEFITS * House Bill 128, approved by the House, 95-0, would provide survivor benefits for the surviving spouses and children of firemen and full-time tribal law enforcement officers employed by federally- or staterecognized Indian tribes. HB128 additionally provides that all full-time correctional officers employed by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections shall be eligible as well. DI S TRACTED DRIVERS/SOCIAL NETWORKING * Under the provisions of Senate Bill 147, drivers would be prohibited from operating any motor vehicle upon any public road or highway of the state while using a wireless telecommunications device to access, read, or post to a social networking site. SB147 awaits consideration by the full House. LSU FEE INCREASE * House Bill 671, pending House final passage, would authorize the LSU Board of Supervisors to impose the following fees for students enrolled in the LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans School of Dentistry for the 2013-2014 academic year and thereafter: 1.) a dental supply fee of $300 per academic year for students in the doctor of dental surgery program, the dental hygiene program, and the dental lab technology program. 2.) a prosthetic device fee of $275 per academic year for second-year students in the doctor of dental surgery program. At LSU-Baton Rouge, the LSU Board of Supervisors may impose: 1.) tuition and attendance fees for
students enrolled in an academic degree program offered entirely through distance education at LSU in Baton Rouge when such program is comparable to a program offered through traditional in-person classroom instructions for the Fall 2013 semester and thereafter. 2.) A digital media program fee of $2,500 for students in graduate and professional degree programs in digital media for the Fall 2013 semester and thereafter. 3.) A technology and infrastructure enhancement fee, as follows: (a) 2013-2014: $2 per credit hour, up to 15 credit hours. (b) 2014-2015: $4 per credit hour, up to 15 credit hours. (c) 2015-2016: $6 per credit hour, up to 15 credit hours. (d) 2016-2017: $8 per credit hour, up to 15 credit hours. (e) 2017-2018 and thereafter: $10 per credit hour, up to 15 credit hours. Relative to LSU-Baton Rouge, House Bill 671 provides the board may impose proportional amounts for part-time students and for summer sessions, and would be required to establish criteria for hardship waivers and make information about them available to prospective students. Finally, HB671 would require a 2/3 vote of the elected members of each house of the legislature. SEX OFFENDERS * For the purpose of sex offender registration and notification, House Bill 440 provides that if a sex offender is a current resident of Louisiana and is not immediately taken into custody after conviction or adjudication, he would be required to provide information to the sheriff of the parish of the conviction or adjudication on the date of the
conviction. Also, the offender would be required to register with the sheriff of the parish in which the residence address provided to the Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections is located, unless his residence has changed and he has registered with the sheriff of his new residence. Additionally, provisions of HB440 require the offender to provide vehicle identification numbers of all motor vehicles registered to or operated by him, and to provide such information before the offender's operation of the vehicle. Further, the proposed law provides for notification relative to temporary lodging and international travel. Finally, House Bill 440 provides for court motions and documentation relative to persons convicted of crimes against nature. HB440 is pending House floor action. JEFFERSON PARISH HOSPITAL LEASE * Under current law, the sale or lease of hospitals requires voter approval. House Bill 383, approved by a vote of 96-0, would authorize the governing authority of the Jefferson Parish Hospital service district to approve hospital leases in the district. FUNERALS * The House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice reported Senate Bill 72, which provides relative to disturbing the peace at funerals, for definitions and related matters. SB72 provides that any intentional engaging in any act or any utterance, gesture, or display designed to disrupt a funeral, funeral route, or burial, during the period beginning 120 minutes before and ending 120 minutes after the funeral or burial and within 300 feet of the funeral or burial, would be prohibited. The proposal would prohibit the
intentional blocking or interfering with a funeral route, including the blocking or interference with access into or from any building or parking lot of a building in which a funeral is being conducted, or any burial plot or the parking lot of the cemetery in which a funeral or burial is being conducted, beginning 120 minutes before and ending 120 minutes after the funeral or burial and within 500 feet of the funeral or burial. Finally, SB72 would provide an increase in the maximum fine for disturbing the peace relative to a funeral or burial to $500. ETHICS CODE * House Bill 387, pending action by the full House, seeks to protect public employees who provide information to a legislator or legislative committee at the request of a legislator or legislative committee from discipline or reprisal or threats of discipline or reprisal by their public employer. The proposed law prohibits an employee who has the authority to hire, fire, or discipline employees, a supervisor, an agency head, or an elected official from subjecting a public employee to reprisal for such disclosure of information. Public employees would be required to report acts of reprisal to the Board of Ethics. Finally, an employee who is wrongfully suspended, demoted, or dismissed as an act of reprisal shall be entitled to reinstatement of his employment and entitled to receive any lost income and benefits for the period of any suspension, demotion, or dismissal. STATE CAPITOL SECURITY * House Bill 538, pending House floor action, provides for the security and use of space within the State Capitol complex,
including the State Capitol Building, the Old Arsenal Museum, and all buildings in the Pentagon Court. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION It is approaching thirty-nine years since the Constitution of Louisiana became effective at twelve midnight on December 31, 1974. Over the years, the document which constitutes the state's basic law has been amended some one hundred seventy-five times. * House Bill 621, pending action by the full House, provides for the calling of a new constitutional convention for the purpose of framing a new constitution, preceded by study by an Evaluation and Drafting Committee to determine if a convention is needed. If the committee determines a convention is needed, the instrument provides that its report include a convention plan, including a proposed constitution. The convention would convene January 5, 2015, and would be composed of 123 delegates:105 elected from representative districts and 18 appointees. The convention would be required to complete a new constitution by July 15, 2015. The convention would be limited in scope to changes relative to state and local finance, raising revenue, and allocation and expenditure of funds. EARLY STEPS * House Bill 375, approved by a vote of 98 yeas, 2 nays, would establish EarlySteps: La.'s Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and their Families. House Bill 375 would delete present law relative to Child Net program, the predecessor of Early Steps program in the Department of Education, and recreates and places the Early Steps program within the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH).
A provision of HB375 authorizes DHH to implement a fee schedule known as cost participation for services that a child receives from the Early Steps Program and to seek payment from all third-party payers. Additionally, DHH would be required to promulgate rules that establish a monthly cost participation schedule. PRIVATIZATION CONTRACTS * House Bill 240, recommitted to the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs, provides for legislative review of the use of private contractors to provide public services. Under the provisions of HB240,state agencies entering into privatization contracts would be required to prepare a statement of services proposed to be privatized; include in every privatization contract provisions requiring the contractor to offer available employee positions to qualified classified state employees of the agency at which state employment is terminated due to privatization; and supply a comprehensive written estimate of the costs of state employees providing services, including all direct and indirect costs. Such estimate shall remain confidential until after the final day for the agency to receive privatization contract bids. The agency would be required to prepare a written analysis of the contract cost. The proposed law would require the head of the state agency to certify in writing to the legislative auditor and appropriate standing committees the contract costs, quality of services, and that the nongovernmental entities have no substantial or repeated noncompliance with federal or state laws. HB240 would limit privatization contracts to $5 million or more per year. The legislative auditor would be required to review each contract no later than 30 days after
receipt. Finally, HB240 provides post-privatization review process. for a
FILM TAX CREDITS * The House approved House Bill 696, 86-11,which modifies the amounts of film tax credits in the state's motion picture credit program. Additionally, HB696 provides that no film tax credits will be paid to a motion picture production company unless income tax is withheld and paid to the state first--before the credit is authorized.