April 29, 2007

2007 Session Opens

by Sheila McCant
Public Information Officer
The 2007 Regular Session, the last regular session of this term, opened at noon today. One of the first orders of business was swearing in four new members, Elbert L. Guillory, District 40, Opelousas; Nicholas Lorusso, District 94, New Orleans; James Morris, District 1, Oil City; and Patrick Williams, District 4, Shreveport.

A joint session convened at 1 p.m. for the Governor's Address. Governor Blanco told the legislature that the state's future is education and outlined a "High-Five" for success -- five areas in education in which the legislature needs to invest to help students excel academically.

1. Expand the LA-4 Pre-K program ($30 million ).
2. Fully fund BESE's high school redesign program ($16 million).
3. Bring teacher pay to the Southern Regional Average with a $2400 raise this year along with any MFP formula increases. The Governor said support workers deserve raises, as well.
4. Make college affordable to all students by implementing a need-based financial aid program ($15 million).
5. Fully fund the higher education formula. She said colleges and universities damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita need $10 million to recover.

Her address also focused on the need to improve the state's infrastructure which, she said, will help boost the economy. The governor proposes using over one-half of last year's surplus ($450 million) for road improvements. In order to do this, the legislature must raise the cap on spending.

Another project that hinges on raising the spending cap is additional hurricane protection and coastal restoration. The governor proposes an additional $200 million to accomplish this goal.

Other issues she is asking the legislature to consider are improving health care ($180 million), providing affordable and available property insurance, a Consumers Bill of Rights regarding insurance, and targeted tax cuts.

Legislative committees begin work this week on these and other issues.

April 28, 2007

2007 Regular Session

by Alfred Speer, Clerk
The 2007 Regular Session of the Legislature will convene on Monday at noon. If you want to see the session dates of interest visit here and if you desire to follow the House's weekly schedule visit here.
This session will be the final regular session of this term of the Legislature and the final regular session for 47 members of the House of Representatives. Forty-five members are constitutionally prohibited from seeking reelection because of the term limit amendment to our constitution adopted by the people in 1995 (one member has announced her intention to not seek reelection and one member has announced his pursuit of a statewide elective office). Upward of nine additional members, eligible to run for reelection, are contemplating runs for other offices or retiring from the legislature. There will be 55 or more newly elected members in the House of Representatives when the Legislature organizes January 14, 2008.
This regular session is one of limited jurisdiction and length. The Legislature may meet no more than 45 legislative days in the 60 calendar days of this session and must adjourn sine die no later than 6:00 PM on June 28, 2007. There have been 897 House Bills and 322 Senate Bills prefiled for introduction in this regular session. Once the session convenes on Monday each legislator is limited to introducing no more than 5 additional bills, or 720 more possible introductions (no previous limited session has seen that many session bill filings).
Stay tuned for regular postings describing the progress of the session, the bills of general interest which are acted upon, and vignettes about your Legislature.


The long-awaited 2007 Regular Legislative Session arrives Monday at noon, and lawmakers return to the Capitol to begin consideration of 895 House Bills, eight House Concurrent Resolutions, 322 Senate Bills, three Senate Resolutions, and four Senate Concurrent Resolutions. The following is a small sample of the prefiled legislation.
HB891 would establish the "Louisiana Health Insurance Exchange," a health care insurance reform program administered through the state Department of Insurance. The Office of the La. Health Insurance Exchange would serve as a state clearinghouse to coordinate and facilitate the recognition, identification and classification of individuals, persons and insurers in the interest of establishing affordable health insurance reform. The exchange's primary responsibly would be to promote and assist individuals, businesses, state or local government, associations and other entities seeking health insurance coverage and any insurer to negotiate and transact a contract or agreement between the parties to provide affordable coverage.
HB852 and HB855 call for a refundable tax credit for certain Louisiana ethanol, biodiesel, and alternative renewable fuel manufacturers. HB852 additionally provides for the minimum ethanol, bio-diesel and other alternative content requirements for gasoline and diesel, cited in present law, to be repealed.
HB861 seeks to prohibit the charging of grossly-excessive rents during a declared state of emergency as the result of a natural disaster that causes significant damage to rental housing stock.
HB870 would create the Hurricane Recovery Capital Tax Credit Program to provide capital assistance for the economic and residential recovery of hurricane-affected areas. The bill provides for a credit against income and franchise taxation; certification and decertification of a Louisiana hurricane recovery capital company; definitions; the authorization of credit transferability; the authorization of rules and regulations and related matters.

April 19, 2007


by State Rep. Mike Strain, District 74
Covington, LA
I have prefiled House Bill 551 to provide refundable tax credits from Louisiana income or corporation franchise taxes for manufacturers, producers, distributors, and retailers of certain biofeuels.
The purpose of the legislation is to encourage the development of the ethanol, biodiesel, and alternate renewable fuel industry and agricultural production in the state. As our agriculture community struggles to survive, we must explore all avenues to assist it. I believe this fuel industry will definitely have a positive impact on agriculture in our state and may well be exactly what is needed to stop the erosion of this vitally important segment of our economy. The products produced in our state are a natural fit for the alternate fuels industry.
Under the bill, the credit would be 20 cents per gallon for biodiesel, ethanol, and alternate renewable fuel, and 30 cents per gallon for ethanol produced from cellulose. All must be produced in a qualifying Louisiana biofuel facility.
The credit applies to the first 25 million gallons of ethanol produced from cellulose each taxable year, not to exceed $7.5 million of credit per facility per taxable year. The credit for biodiesel, ethanol, and alternate renewable fuel cannot exceed $5 million per facility per taxable. Credits for all fuels will apply until the 10th anniversary of the date production at the facility begins.
Further, the facilities must meet or exceed Federal Quality Standards for these fuels and ethanol produced from cellulose must meet Louisiana biofuel eligibility requirements and the tax credits shall not exceed 40 percent of costs incurred for tank cleaning, tank modifications, equipment, and capital improvements necessary to accommodate the sale of ethanol, biodiesel, and alternate renewable fuel not to exceed $10,000 per tank.
In order for a facility to qualify, Louisiana farmers must have at least a 20 percent ownership interest and must use at least 50 percent Louisiana-grown feedstocks to produce ethanol.
The bill has tentatively been referred to the House Ways & Means Committee.


by Nancy Johnson & Sheila McCant
Public Information Office
With only a few days remaining before the 2007 Regular Legislative Session convenes, lawmakers have prefiled 592 House Bills, 169 Senate Bills, four House Concurrent Resolutions, three Senate Resolutions, and three Senate Concurrent Resolutions. The following is a sample of instruments that legislators will consider over the 45-day legislative calendar that begins April 30.
HB324 would provide a state income tax exemption for all full-time classroom teachers of parish and city public school systems.
HB502 would authorize an individual income tax credit for the actual amount of costs and expenses incurred to retrofit an individual's residence to meet State Uniform Construction Code standards.
HB 385 establishes the La. Insurance Catastrophe Fund and dedicates certain insurance premium taxes to the fund.
HB401 creates the Driver Responsibility Program under which points, ranging from three to six, are assigned for convictions for motor vehicle violations and penalties are imposed on drivers who accumulate a certain number of points within three years. Additional penalties for DWI convictions are included. The revenues from this program are to be dedicated to highway construction.
HB 486 provides for enforcement of the International Residential Code and other changes to the State Uniform Construction Code. Among other provisions, all municipalities and parishes are required to use building code enforcement officers to enforce the provisions of the law and enforcement procedures by these officers include examination or review of plans, drawings, or specifications; the conducting of inspections; and the issuance, denial, or revocation of permits. The legislation also allows any parish whose boundaries are completely north of the 110 mph wind line to enforce the provisions of the code by certification of intended compliance and certification of completion and compliance. The enforcement of the International Residential code shall only be mandatory with respect to new construction, reconstruction, and additions that increase the height or floor area of a structure under this bill.
HB 497 creates the crime of prohibited consensual sexual activity between educators and students between 13 and 19 years of age. Also prohibits lewd or lascivious acts upon the person or in the presence of a student who is under 19 years of age, with the intention of arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of either person. The proposed law applies to students at the school where the educator is employed. The bill provides an exclusion if the victim is the spouse of the offender. Penalty includes a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years with or without hard labor, or both.
HB347 would increase the compensation for elections commissioners-in-charge and certified commissioners. A commissioner-in-charge would receive $250. A commissioner-in-charge who serves at more than one precinct would receive $300. A commissioner who has received a certificate of instruction as provided in R.S. 18:431 (A) would receive $100. A commissioner who has received a certificate of instruction, as provided in R.S.18:431(B) would receive $200. (An uncertified commissioner would continue to receive thirty-five dollars.)
HB358 provides that for each motor vehicle owned and registered in the state by a person sixty years of age or older, the annual registration license tax shall be ten dollars per vehicle per year regardless of the actual value of the vehicle. The annual registration license tax would be collected by the commissioner once every two years.


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
The results of the In the Loop poll, "Which Will Help Provide Available and Affordable Insurance in Louisiana" have been tabulated.
The majority of those voting believe that a state-run catastrophe fund and abolition of the Insurance Rating Commission will accomplish this goal. The next highest vote getters were maintaining the state building code and allowing a variation of deductibles across the state.
The poll allowed for multiple responses.

State Run Catastrophic Fund 41%
State and/or Federal Regulation of Insurance Providers 29%
Abolition of the Insurance Rating Commission 41%
Maintaining the Recently Enacted State Building Code 35%
State Incentive to Companies Writing Policies Along
the Coast 29%
Reforming Citizens Property Insurance Corporation 18%
Allow Variation of Deductibles in Different Areas
of the State 35%


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
Addressing the Press Club of Baton Rouge this week, state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom discussed the future of agriculture in Louisiana and outlined what must be done to make the state's number one industry viable and prosperous.
Odom said the future of agriculture and forestry is in alternative fuels. He said Louisiana crops are a natural fit for producing alternative fuels. The legislation passed last year that sets minimum standards for these fuels made Louisiana the leader among southern states and paves the way for a greener environment, new markets for agricultural commodities, job growth, and economic development. The law also provides added incentives for companies to build plants in Louisiana to produce ethanol and bio-diesel. He pointed out that land planted in cotton has decreased from almost 800,000 acres to about 300,000 acres, while corn acreage has increased 150% as more farmers look to alternative fuels as their future.
"I am a firm believer that government, industry, and agriculture should partner together so farmers will play a role in the emerging alternative fuels industry," Odom said. "In order for a family farm to survive today, it must do three things: produce food and fiber, electricity, and fuel."

April 17, 2007


View the speech by House Clerk Alfred "Butch" Speer to the League of Women Voters State Convention on Saturday, April 14, 2007. The speech discusses what to expect during the upcoming session, particularly the budget and the role partisanship will play in legislative debate. Click here to view video.

April 12, 2007


by Cory Stewart
Office of Public Information
The U.S. Senate late Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Elton Gallegly, (R-California) that makes it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison to transport dogs or roosters across state or international borders for the purpose of animal fighting, and it prohibits the interstate and foreign commerce of knives and gaffs designed for use in cockfighting.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 26, on a 368-39 vote. This bill received overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both houses and is expected to be sent to the White House for the President's signature in a few days.
"This piece of legislation sends the message that Congress recognizes the need to give local law enforcement the tools they need to combat this cruel criminal enterprise," Gallegly said.
Now that Congress has taken it upon itself to toughen laws on cockfighting, the spotlight has shifted to Louisiana, the only state where cockfighting remains legal. Congressional approval of this measure comes two weeks before the start of Louisiana's legislative session in which four anti-cockfighting bills have been pre-filed. The bills range from an immediate ban to a phase-out over three years. Although politicians have been reluctant to risk a backlash from rural constituents, polls have shown that most Louisianians oppose the bloody practice of cockfighting. Will the argument of cultural phenomenon be enough to defend cockfighting as it has in the past?
"Louisiana is now standing alone," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "We're prepared to hit this issue hard, now that New Mexico is done and Congress is done, our full energy in terms of anti-cockfighting is on Louisiana."


by Nancy Johnson
Office of Public Information
The number of prefiled House Bills on the 2007 Regular Fiscal/Limited Legislative Session agenda increased to 225 as of Thursday afternoon. The following is a sample of legislation that lawmakers will consider in the upcoming session.
HB157 would require all school buses to be equipped with crossing control devices by January 1, 2008.
HB186 would prohibit certain convicted felons from owning, possessing, having custody of, or residing with a dangerous dog.
HB 189 would authorize a $100 tax credit per child in foster care.
HB209 would increase supplemental pay for deputy sheriffs, and for firemen, police officers, and certain law enforcement officers employed by the state from $300 per month to $500 per month.
HB181 would authorize a tax exemption on the purchase price of a new qualified hybrid vehicle, equal to the actual amount of state and local sales and use taxes or $1,500, whichever is less. The bill defines such a vehicle as one with a drive train powered by both an internal combustion engine and a rechargeable battery.
HB165 establishes the Parish Transportation Fund No. 2 in the state treasury. The bill provides that proceeds from the sales and use tax on motor vehicles shall be deposited into the fund and appropriated annually by the Legislature to be used solely for qualified construction and maintenance projects along state highways in each parish. The parish metropolitan planning organization or the parish governing authority, in cooperation with municipal governing authorities and the district engineer of the Department of Transportation Development's highway district, would be required to compile a list to identify and prioritize the qualified construction and maintenance projects in that parish.


by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon this week held a news conference to unveil their joint insurance package for the upcoming session.
A bi-partisan approach, the bills seek to attract new insurers, drive down rates, and protect consumers. The bills, which have not been filed at this time, include a consumer bills of rights, premium reductions for retrofitting, regional deductible ranges, allowing LA Citizens to bundle its policies for sale to private insurers, and an incentive program to encourage companies to write policies in the state and take policies out of LA Citizens.


by Rep. Ernie Alexander
Louisiana appears to have an abundance of riches at this time. This is reflected in the Governor's budget. When she spoke to a meeting of Lafayette-area legislators Monday she told us there was an additional $1.292 billion in this year's budget. Of this amount $611 million, about half of the total, will be dedicated to education and $198 million will be directed to health care redesign.
The debate over the budget, if there is one, will be about whether or not to “break the cap.” You will recall that the recently-ended legislative special session fell apart because Republicans refused to “break the cap.” The “cap” is a Constitutionally imposed spending limit which is designed to ensure that the Governor and the legislature do not go on a reckless spending spree which will deprive the citizens of Louisiana of future necessary revenue. The “cap” can be broken but only by a super-majority vote. Under normal circumstances it takes only fifty-three votes (of 105 members) for passage of a bill. In special circumstances, such as this one, it will take a vote of seventy members or more for passage.
There will be rhetoric about Republican “obstructionists” before a vote on the issue is even taken. During the last session, it is true that the vote on the “cap” was almost entirely along party lines with all but two Democrats voting to “break the spending cap” and all but two Republicans voting against breaking “the cap.” [See, House Vote on HCR 6, FINAL CONSIDERATION (#36)] Since that vote, incidentally, one of the two Democrats who voted not to break the “cap” has become a Republican. The odds are now less favorable for the Governor getting seventy favorable votes than they were at that time with GOP members in the House now numbering forty-three.
The division between the two parties has been emphasized with the organization of a Democratic Caucus. This is the first time that this particular group has come into being. Prior to this recent grouping, there was a Black Caucus (of 23 members) and a Republican Caucus (now numbering 43). What the formation of the Democratic Caucus has done has been to force the more fiscally conservative Democrats, those who often vote with the Republicans on fiscal matters, into voting with the rest of their caucus on those issues. There is a definite divide on budgetary matters in the House.
Most Louisiana citizens have no real idea of how or where the state budget originates and how it finds its way into law. The budget document finds its origin in the Governor's office under the pen of former Lafayette Representative Jerry Luke LeBlanc. After approval by the Governor, it is sent to the House Appropriations Committee. That committee has nineteen members, TWELVE of whom are appointed by the Governor through the Speaker of the House who was also appointed by the Governor. Let us pause for a moment to examine that last statement before we continue. You will hear the point that the Speaker is elected by the membership of the House. This is true. However, no person will be elected Speaker without being ordained for the job by the Governor.
After the “special friends” of the Governor who sit on the Appropriations Committee have been allowed to add a bit of “pork” to the document, it is sent to the floor of the House for debate. In the eight years in which I have served in the legislature NOT ONCE has the budget been changed on the House floor after leaving the Appropriations Committee. We came close in 2005 when forty-six members voted for an amendment to House Bill 1(by Representative Jim Tucker) to raise teacher pay by almost two thousand dollars from available and recurring funds. The amendment had forty-eight votes against it.
The Governor says that Louisiana's economy will remain strong for at least the next ten years. Others, such as respected economist Dr. Loren Scott, say the time-frame is more like four years. At that point the one-time dollars generated by insurance payments, savings account withdrawals and the BILLIONS of dollars being pumped into the state by the feds with no longer be there. We must prepare for that moment. If we are not prepared, the economic situation could be disastrous, especially if we inflate salaries of individuals to a level we can no longer afford.
The lines have been drawn in the sand. The Democrats will be out to spend every available dime during this session. The Republicans will advocate a conservative approach and argue in favor of saving some of the funds for next year and the years to come. The key question to be resolved is “what will be the effect of breaking the cap on future budgets.” Few legislators are financial experts and we will look to PAR, CABL, State Treasurer John Kennedy and other groups and individuals to provide a clearer, non-political analysis of the ramifications of the vote on whether or not to “break the cap.” The vote on the issue will not be so much a vote of party politics as it will be one of fiscal responsibility.


The Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority met on April 12, 2007, to consider major issues related to coastal protection, including adoption of a Master Plan, Reports from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, coastal forestry recommendations, and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Netherlands, Province of Zeeland. View the hearing at http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Video/2007/Apr2007.htm

April 09, 2007


by: Alfred W. Speer, Clerk
Do not look for newly drawn legislative election districts for the 2007 election of members to the Louisiana Legislature.
We all know Orleans parish has lost hundreds of thousands of citizens and that many parishes have gained tens of thousands since Katrina and Rita devastated our state (2006 parish population
estimates). And we all know legislative elections are conducted on geographic districts drawn to insure each voter’s franchise is equal, the one-person, one-vote principle.
So why will the districts in Orleans, which are so underpopulated (approximately 20,000 citizens versus 42,800 citizens in 2001), and the districts in the Florida parishes and surrounding Baton Rouge, which have all gained significant population, not be redrawn during the 2007 legislative session to adjust the representation to reflect the diaspora of Katrina?
The simple answer is two-fold: first, Louisiana’s constitution in
Article III, section 6 requires we use only the decennial census figures; and, second, the federal Voting Rights Act [42 USCA §1973]. This federal law requires Louisiana to submit any change in its voting procedures (read new legislative districts boundaries) for review by the U. S. Department of Justice to gain their “preclearance” before Louisiana can legally enforce the new districts, that is use them in an election. For Louisiana to conduct elections in 2007 from newly drawn districts we would have to ask the Justice Department to approve the new districts. One of their criteria for review is and will be the population counts upon which we base our one-person, one-vote decisions – how we divide the known population into districts of as nearly as practicable equal population. Using the decennial census raises no questions with the Department as to the accuracy of the population count. Using an estimate of population, that is not basing one-person, one-vote decisions on an actual census but on mere estimates of population, will raise immediate suspicions that Louisiana is not protecting the voting rights of all its citizens.
One of the principles of redistricting law is that, even admitting the decennial census data is inaccurate the year it is used (2001 for this decade) and is certainly stale and seriously inaccurate in year seven since the census, census data is the only acceptable population basis upon which to base district drawing, be they drawn in census year + one or + seven.
Do not look for new election districts to be drawn for the 2007 election of Louisiana legislators, the candidates will run in the districts drawn in 2001, no matter the number of citizens actually living in those districts.

April 05, 2007


State Senator Noble Ellington and State Representative Roy Quezaire, chairmen of the Senate and House Transportation, Highways, & Public Works committees respectively, outlined current funding and the problems Louisiana faces with insufficient money for road construction at this week's meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Joining them was Jennifer Marusak, Communications Director for Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, who presented an overview of her group's legislative package to address future, additional funding to improve highways and bridges across the state. She said their proposal would shift current dollars without imposing additional taxes or fees.
To accomplish this goal, they propose redirecting about $600 million in state money as follows:
* $256 million annually by shifting sales taxes collected on the sale of vehicles and vehicle parts (after being split with the parishes) from the General Fund to the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF);
* $200 million annually by shifting the Windfall Highway Infrastructure and Protection Fund from the General Fund to the TTF and coastal restoration;
* $85 million annually by requiring benefit payments for former and current DOTD employees be taken from the General Fund and not the TTF;
* $40 million annually by depositing truck registration fees in the TTF rather than the state General Fund;
* $40 million annually by paying State Police "Traffic Control" from the state General Fund instead of the TTF,
* $40 million annually by shifting truck registration fees to the TTF.
Marusak said the state currently faces a $14 billion backlog in road and construction needs. The primary source of funding, the TTF, relies solely on a 16-cent gas tax approved in 1984 that was never adjusted for inflation. In today's money, that 16 cents amounts to eight cents, thus the biggest reason for the problem.
According to the group, the state needs to spend $180 to $200 million annually to keep up with needed road repairs and construction. The state spent $17 million in fiscal year '05-'06, will spend $30 million in this fiscal year, and has only $9 million available in fiscal year '07-'08.
Without the proposed shift in funds, Marusak said the state will have to consider additional fees and/or taxes to forego the potential loss of federal matching funds, which could occur as early as 2009. Without federal funds, the state will continue to fall farther and farther behind in improving and maintaining its roads and bridges, something it cannot afford to do. At this time, almost half of the state's bridges are over 40 years old, road disrepair contributes to the traffic fatality rate which is 41% higher than the national average, and vehicular traffic is predicted to double in the next 25 years, not to mention the negative impact this has on economic development and Louisiana's recovery.
She said that according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), the $450 million in surplus money the governor has said she will propose as a one-time appropriation for road construction, although helpful, will provide less than three percent of the $14 billion needed to address the backlog of unmet construction needs.
How does Louisiana compare to other states in administrative spending, taxes and fees? Louisiana has the twelfth-lowest gas tax in the nation, the fourth-lowest auto registration fee, and the sixth-lowest truck registration fee. In cost of operations vs. capital expenditures, DOTD is the fourth-lowest in the country.
To promote their legislative agenda, the association has launched "Driving Louisiana Forward," a statewide public awareness campaign to educate the state's citizens and the legislature about the funding crisis and to point out the connection between a solid infrastructure, job creation, and economic development. They also hope to generate public support and encourage citizens to urge their state legislators to support their legislative proposals.
Ellington and Quezaire said they support the association's proposals and added that these changes can be made statutorily, with no constitutional amendments needed.
The Louisiana Good Roads & Transportation Association is an organization of businesses and interested parties across the state who are committed to improving Louisiana's highway infrastructure.

April 02, 2007


By: Rep. Tim Burns,
District 89
Mandeville, LA

The plight of Louisiana’s middle class was poignantly illustrated in an article which recently appeared in the Times Picayune entitled “Broken Dreams.” The byline of the article stated that many residents in the post-Katrina era are finding themselves faced with higher expenses and struggling to simply make ends meet. The article profiled Demetrious and Sondra Dillon, a working couple and parents trying to rebuild their lives after Katrina. Like so many who evacuated after the 2005 hurricanes, they were forced to live off of their savings, their credit cards and their cash at hand. Many also lost their jobs in addition to their houses. The Dillon’s tale is repeated over and over throughout Southeast Louisiana as residents struggle to rebuild their careers, their families and their lives.
Couples such as the Dillons are the fabric of our society, hard-working, taxpaying citizens. Yet they seem often ignored by state government. The 2007-2008 budget recently unveiled by the administration contains spending of nearly $30 billion dollars, which puts Louisiana 3rd in the nation in terms of per capita spending according to the latest figures by the Tax Foundation.

Rather than spend all of the surplus, why not return some of it to the people who need it most, namely the taxpaying citizens, who are trying to get back on their feet and are burdened with higher insurance payments. Many of my constituents told me that they paid more state income tax when they filed their return than federal income tax. When our citizens are paying more state income tax on tax filing day then federal income tax, then there is definitely a problem. The 2002 Stelly plan, which I vigorously opposed as a citizen activist, (I was not yet elected to the legislature) was inaccurately sold to the voters as an equitable swap in income taxes for sales taxes. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be is a boondoggle for the state and a burden for the middle class, resulting in significantly higher tax payments. I will be filing several bills in the upcoming legislative session to repeal all or part of Stelly.

Last year I was successful in passing legislation giving citizens an extra year to file their damage claims from hurricanes. This year I want to help further reform Louisiana’s insurance laws to make coverage more affordable for residents. Ideally, a program could be underwritten by the federal government (like federal flood insurance), which would provide affordable wind and hail coverage for our citizens. Although several bills are pending in Congress, the state needs to act also. I intend to file legislation giving tax credits for making one's home more storm proof and requiring insurer discounts for any hazard mitigation provisions. I would also favor making the insurance industry more competitive so that we are not held hostage by a few big insurers. Finally, I will continue to promote and file legislation to prohibit insurance companies from taking advantage of ordinary citizens.