January 15, 2010


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
Speaker Jim Tucker addressed the annual
meeting of the Louisiana Association
of Business and Industry (LABI) this
week and discussed past successes and future
The Speaker said, “The national recession
finally came to Louisiana, and it
shows up in our challenges.” He also said
the main focus of the upcoming session
will be the budget, particularly the $1 billion
shortfall the state will face when the
fiscal year begins on July 1.
An overview of the Speaker’s address
can be found here.

October 02, 2009

Redistricting Workshop A Success

by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer

Legislative chairmen of the House and Senate Governmental Affairs committees are calling the two-day educational training workshop on redistricting a success.

Sen. Bob Kostelka and Rep. Rick Gallot said 21 of the 29 committee members participated in the workshop and spent the first day being briefed on demographics, the census and redistricting law, how state population has shifted, and how this will affect districts by House and Senate senior staff.

The majority of the first day was spent on a redistricting exercise led by Tim Storey and John Guthrie of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a non-partisan organization of state legislatures that has conducted similar seminars around the country.

Storey and Guthrie, national redistricting experts, used a prior redistricting case from Jacksonville, Florida to outline the law, court cases, and legal requirements that are part of the redistricting process.

The exercise divided participants into two groups with the charge of adopting a redistricting plan based on provided information.

On Friday, the members concluded the exercise, with a spokesperson for each group presenting their completed plans. A vote was taken to determine which of the two plans they preferred. They then discussed the adopted plan, and the reasons why they considered it the best of the two.

Workshop presenters said the exercise was a learning tool designed to familiarize members with how difficult choices are and the many numbers of variables that have to be weighed in creating a valid redistricting plan.

With the Census kicking off next April, Louisiana will be fighting the clock to complete redistricting for the 2011 elections. Official census numbers are expected to be available in February, 2011, with the regular legislative session beginning on April 25. This will give the legislature a few short months to complete the redistricting process before qualifying for general elections takes place in September. Further, Louisiana, as well as 15 other states, must have its redistricting plans pre-approved by the U. S. Justice Department.

"Redistricting is of the utmost importance to our citizens and our state," Gallot said. "With so many of our committee members new to the legislature and unfamiliar with redistricting, it is imperative they have the information necessary to make informed, educated decisions. This workshop was the beginning of this educational process."

The next step is for the House and Senate Governmental Affairs committees to hold nine joint regional public meetings around the state to explain the process of redistricting and to raise awareness of the importance of every citizen participating in the census. The meetings are tentatively planned to begin later this Fall and will include stops in Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Thibodaux, and the North Shore.

Due to the lack of population growth over the last 10 years, Louisiana is expected to lose a congressional seat. Current estimates suggest that federal and state districts will change due to the population shifts in the state, including those resulting from the hurricanes in 2005.

March 04, 2009

Tax Amnesty Proposal

By: Public Information Office Staff
A proposal by the governor for a two-month tax amnesty period during Fiscal Year 2009-2010 could mean up to $150 million in back tax collections for the state if previous tax amnesty programs are any indication. The last program—conducted in 2001—collected more than $192 million in back taxes. About $300 million in tax collections and interest since then remain outstanding.

The proposed amnesty program would cover all tax periods since the last amnesty–July 1, 2001, through December 30, 2008. During the proposed two-month amnesty period, the state would waive all penalties owed on unpaid taxes and half of the accrued interest for any taxpayer who pays 100% of the owed tax and the remaining 50% of the owed interest.

Eligible taxpayers for this amnesty period would include those with an existing tax liability, those who did not file a required return or report, and those who understated or omitted any tax liability on a filed return.

The tax amnesty would not apply to motor fuel inspection fees, inspection and supervision fees collected on behalf of the Public Service Commission, motor fuels taxes, or penalties not associated with a tax. The program would exclude taxpayers under criminal investigation by the Department of Revenue and taxpayers against whom a civil fraud penalty has already been asserted.

The proposed tax amnesty program would generate one-time revenue and would not affect the 2009-2010 operating budget.

Legislation to enact the program will be proposed during the 2009 Regular Legislative Session.


By: Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer

Qualifying ended February 13 to fill the vacancies in state House District 97 and Senate District 24.

In House District 97, six candidates qualified to fill the vacancy created by the election of former House member J. P. Morrell to the state Senate. They are Jared Brossett, Oliver "Vishop OC: Coleman, Leroy Doucette, Ambrose Pratt, "Nik" Richard, and Dalton Savwoir. All candidates are Democrats with the exception of Coleman who is a Republican.

Five candidates qualified to run for the Senate seat vacated by Don Cravins, Jr. They are the former senator's mother, Patricia "Pat" Cravins, state Rep. Elbert Guillory, Quincy Richard, Jr., Lincoln "Link" Savoie, and Kelly Scott. Mr. Savoie is the only Republican in the race. The remaining candidates are Democrats.

Former Senator Cravins resigned to serve as director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C.

The primary election date for both legislative seats is Saturday, April 4, with the general election on Saturday, May 2.

February 11, 2009

Improved Ballot Systems Needed To Provide For Overseas Military Voting

By: Office of Public Information Staff
A new report released last month concludes that half the states need to improve their ballot systems to give overseas military time to vote.

The report, "Make Voting Work," found that 16 states and the District of Columbia do not give overseas military personnel enough time to vote, and another three states cut it so closely that their ballots are also at risk. In Alabama, which needs the longest time among states to send and receive ballots, it takes 88 days to cast an overseas military vote. Alabama requires three mailings: first, from a soldier requesting a ballot, again when the state sends it, and once more to send in the ballot.

The states that process an overseas military vote in the shortest time are Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico and Rhode Island, with just eight days needed to complete the voting process, according to the report. These states are among 19 that allow completed ballots to be returned by fax or e-mail.

To read the full report online, go to this link .

February 04, 2009

Tucker Appoints Cromer Vice Chair of Civil Law Committee in Lorusso's Absence

By: Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer

House Speaker Jim Tucker today appointed state Rep. George Gregory Cromer as the temporary vice chairman of the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee.

Cromer will serve while state Rep. Nick Lorusso, who has been ordered to active duty in the U.S. Army Reserves, is out of state.

Lorusso has served as vice chair of the committee since last year. Cromer is a member of the committee.