HOUSE NOTES

The Latest News from the State Capitol Louisiana House of Representatives Regular Session April 27, 2012

At the end of the seventh legislative week, 18 House bills and five Senate bills have been sent to the Governor for his consideration. The House has passed and sent 405 bills to the Senate for consideration. At this time, no bills have been vetoed. T h e House adopted the conference committee report this week on HB 969, which authorizes a rebate for taxpayers who donate to certain school tuition organizations. The bill now awaits the Governor's signature. The Revenue Estimating Conference met this week and revised the official forecast for the current fiscal year downward by $205 million and by $304 million for Fiscal Year 2012-2013. This is due to lower than expected corporate, individual, sales and severance taxes collected. In order to balance the budget, with little more than two months remaining in the current fiscal year, deep cuts will be required.. However, since the bulk of most agencies' budgets have already been spent, a possible solution would be to tap the Budget Stabilization or "rainy day" Fund. State Superintendent of Education John White has embarked on a statewide outreach, Louisiana Believes, to discuss the recently signed education reform package. He will hold 22 meetings in 16 cities before the end of the school year.

Under present law, a person convicted of a second felony offense is eligible for parole consideration after serving 50% of the imposed sentence. HB1026 provides that a person convicted of a second felony offense would be eligible for parole consideration upon serving 33% of the sentence if the offense for which he was convicted was not a sex offense nor a crime of violence and the person was not sentenced as a habitual offender. The proposed law applies to persons who are sentenced on or after August 1, 2012.

DWI/DRIVING PRIVILEGES
* House Bill 1204(substitute for HB 682) repeals all provisions in present law related to reinstatement of driving privileges associated with a violation of criminal law. The bill provides that the final disposition of a criminal law charge or charges would prohibit the reinstatement of driving privileges pertaining to the administration of chemical tests. The proposed law clarifies that a reinstatement fee is not be charged to an individual when his suspension or revocation of driving privileges are recalled pursuant to a ruling of an administrative law judge or the subsequent appeal of an administrative law judge's ruling. Additionally, House Bill 1204 extends the time to request an administrative hearing from 15 to 30 days following a DWI arrest. House Bill 1204 is scheduled for floor debate on Monday, May 7.

CORRECTIONS
* House Bill 1026, which passed the House by a vote of 93-3, would amend parole eligibility for certain offenders. 1

OIL FIELD REMEDIATION
* House Bill 618 provides for the limitation of the effect of an admission of liability in an oilfield remediation suit (legacy lawsuit) and provides that such admissions are admissible in evidence. Under the proposed law, if any party admits liability for environmental damage in an action for remediation of an oilfield site, the party may elect to limit the admission of liability to responsibility for implementing the most feasible plan to evaluate, and if necessary, to remediate all or a portion of the contamination. If an admission is limited to a party's responsibility for implementing the most feasible plan, the admission shall not be construed as an admission for damages nor shall such an admission result in any waiver of any rights or defenses of the admitting party. Another provision of HB618 requires the court to refer a matter to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) within 30 days of an admission of responsibility for a determination of the most feasible plan to evaluate or remediate environmental damage. An admission of responsibility and the plan approved by the department shall be admissible as evidence in any action. A party admitting responsibility shall be required to deposit funds with DNR to cover the cost of the department's review of the plan, including the cost of holding a public hearing. Finally, the proposed law provides that a party admitting responsibility shall reimburse the plaintiff recoverable costs within 30 days of the department's filing of the plan. House Bill 618, approved by a vote of 83 -18, is pending referral in the Senate.

higher education management boards are responsible for daily operations of the institutions and that the exercise of such responsibility is subject to the powers and policies of the Board of Regents. House Bill 396 would be submitted for voter approval at the statewide election to be held Nov. 6, 2012. HB396, approved by the House Education Committee, has been recommitted to the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee for review of ballot language before being sent to the House floor. * House Bill 395, pending House final consideration, provides that the power of the public post-secondary education management boards to spend and allocate funds is subject to the funding formula adopted by the Board of Regents and, unless otherwise provided in an appropriations bill, the Board of Regents' budget recommendations. However, a management board would be permitted to redirect an amount not to exceed 5% of the specified formula allocation to address issues that may arise during the allocation process. House Bill 395 would become effective if House Bill 396 is adopted at the statewide election.

POPULAR PRESIDENT

ELECTION

OF

HIGHER EDUCATION MANAGEMENT BOARDS
* House Bill 396, a proposed constitutional amendment, provides that 2

* House Bill 1095 would make the state of Louisiana a member of the interstate compact entitled "Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote." The compact provides that the presidential electors of each member state would be allocated to the national popular vote winner. The agreement shall govern the appointment of presidential electors in each member state in any year in which the agreement is in effect on July 20 in states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes. The legislation provides for participation and withdrawal from the compact

and for the functions and duties of the chief executive and chief election official. House Bill 1095 is scheduled for floor debate on Monday, May 7.

W H I S T L E B L O W E R PROTECTION
* HB 364 seeks to further protect from reprisals workers who report employer violations of law or endangerment to public health or safety. Currently, an employee is required to notify the employer of a violation prior to protection from disclosure. The proposed legislation provides an exception to employer notification when the notification would be futile. The proposed law allows an employee to bring suit for reprisal in the district court where he resides or where the employer maintains his principal place of business. This is an extension of present law, which requires suit be filed in the district court where the violation occurred. The bill was approved by the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee by a vote of 8-3. FAILED TO ADVANCE * House Bill 1081 would have created the legal concept of "fictive stepparent" that would allow unmarried partners to adopt children. The bill was involuntarily deferred by the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee by a vote of 9-2. * House Bill 820 would have required medically accurate and developmentally and age appropriate sex education be taught in public schools. The bill failed to pass the House Education Committee by a vote of 8-8. * House Bill 1193, a substitute for HB1009, would have allowed the operation of a non-motorized bicycle on a sidewalk The bill failed to pass the House by a vote of 4050.

* House Bill 1039 would have required home incarceration and electronic monitoring supervision of all convicted offenders unless they have been convicted of a crime of violence, a sex offense, certain DWI violations, or certain violations of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, or if, at the time of sentencing, the court determines that incarceration by imprisonment in a correctional facility is more suitable for the offender. The bill was voluntarily deferred after hearing in the criminal justice committee. * House Bill 1072 would have extended through 2024, and possibly 2029, the $3.65 million annual tax break the New Orleans Hornets Basketball Team receives through the Quality Jobs Program. The bill failed by a vote of 48-47 and was returned to the calendar, subject to call. * House Bill 1039 would have required home incarceration and electronic monitoring supervision of all convicted offenders unless they have been convicted of a crime of violence, a sex offense, certain DWI violations, or certain violations of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, or if, at the time of sentencing, the court determines that incarceration by imprisonment in a correctional facility is more suitable for the offender. The bill was voluntarily deferred after hearing in the criminal justice committee. * House Bill 1072 would have extended through 2024, and possibly 2029, the $3.65 million annual tax break the New Orleans Hornets Basketball Team receives through the Quality Jobs Program. The bill failed by a vote of 48-47 and was returned to the calendar, subject to call.

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