‘LaPolitics:’ Senate chairs look toward regular session

Senate Finance Chair Eric LaFleur says that since the deadlock in the Revenue Estimating Conference has nearly halted the early budgeting process, his committee is largely in a holding pattern.

“I’m assuming at some point the speaker has a change of heart,” LaFleur says.

LaFleur also expects the committee to see more gaming bills this session, particularly ones focused on establishing sports betting and collecting the generated revenues. “A lot of people will be trying to grab that money,” he said.

Video poker bills, however, are expected to be light, if not non-existent. “We won’t be filing any gaming bills,” says Alton Ashy of Advanced Strategies, a lobbyist for the Louisiana Video Gaming Association, “at least not for video poker.”

As expected, Senate Education Chair Blade Morrish says that his committee’s major issue to consider will be Gov. John Bel Edwards’ teacher pay raise proposal. Morrish expects the proposed $1,000 salary increase for teachers and $500 for support personnel to encounter little opposition. “It’s not nearly enough, but it’s the best we can do,” he says.  

Morrish tells LaPolitics that he is also considering introducing legislation that would change the TOPS program in order to free up more money for early childhood education, a glaring need he has noticed during his tenure as chairman of the education committee.

Judiciary C Chair Dan Claitor, Health and Welfare Chair Fred Mills and Labor and Industrial Relations Chair Neil Riser all admit that they have not seen many bills come forward yet, but that is expected in a fiscal session when members are limited to five bills.

Riser says he expects the Edwards administration to reintroduce its bills on equal pay and the minimum wage, while Mills says his committee will be looking at prescription benefits and freestanding emergency rooms.

They said it: “I’m so happy we are able to meet today to remind us it is an election year.”—Senate President John Alario, on disagreements in Joint Budget, in NOLA.com.

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