Legislative session nearing its finale

Published 10:22 am Sunday, June 5, 2022

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Bills sponsored by Southwest Louisiana legislators are completing their trek through the Legislature as the session approaches its 6 p.m. Monday adjournment.

The House has approved Senate Bill 445 by Sen. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, 93-0. It goes back to the Senate for concurrence because of changes made by the House.

The legislation clarifies that the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has to obtain approval from House and Senate transportation committees before it enters into any private-public partnerships (P3s).

The measure also requires the department to provide the detailed financial analysis of cost conducted by the department and the Federal Highway Administration relative to the new Interstate 10/Calcasieu River bridge at Lake Charles.

Legislation that creates the Hurricane Mediation Program is sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Stine, R-Lake Charles. SB 212 was approved 94-0 and also goes back to the Senate because of House changes.

The bill provides that every insured person may request mediation for a disputed residential property insurance claim for property damage up to $150,000 if the governor declares a state of emerge

Abraham is also sponsor of SB 140 that provides for insurance benefits for retired sheriffs and deputies of the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office. The bill contains requirements to qualify for those benefits. It was approved 92-0 in the House and next heads to the governor.

Stine is sponsor of SB 209 that authorizes the state commissioner of insurance to order certain penalties to persons engaging in unfair methods of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice. It was approved 92-0 and goes back to the Senate to consider House changes.

The proposed law increases the aggregate penalty from $250,000 to $500,000. However, anyone who knowingly violates the law is required to pay a penalty of not more than $25,000 for each act or violation.

Stine’s SB 498 authorizes the Louisiana Transportation Authority to accept unsolicited proposals for design build projects in excess of $100 million. It was approved 93-0 and goes back to the Senate because of House changes.

Abraham’s SB 124 requires the state Department of Education to provide student attendance data of home school students to local school governing authorities. It was approved 96-0 and goes back to the Senate because of House changes.

SB 402 by Abraham deals with the appointment of special masters for mediation in any civil action where there is a major disaster area. It was approved 97-0 and goes back to the Senate because of House changes.

Sen. Mike Reese, R-Leesville, is sponsor of SB 461 that provides that the police chief of Vinton may promote and discipline police personnel subject to the budgetary limitations of the mayor and city council pertaining to the number of allotted positions. The bill was approved 94-0 and goes to the governor.

Reese is also sponsor of SB 389 dealing with the suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay taxes. It sets up four conditions that must be met to suspend the license. The bill was approved 96-0 and goes back to the Senate because of House changes.

Rep. Les Farnum got House and Senate approval of HB 35 that provides for a supplemental annual canvass of registered voters. It passed the House 69-28 and the Senate 29-0. An identical bill by Farnum was vetoed in 2021. Gov. John Bel Edwards said every parish was already required to do an annual canvass and Farnum’s bill was unnecessary.

Rep. Brett Geymann’s HB 607 deals with cruelty to animals. Current law provides a first offense is a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both. Geymann’s measures provides that the offender pay the animal’s medical and housing expenses. The bill has been sent to the governor after passing both the House and Senate unanimously.

The governor has signed three bills by Rep. Ryan Bourriaque, R-Grand Lake. HB 105 creates an employee insurance fund for the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office. HB 217 deals with a property transfer in Cameron Parish. The transfer was from DOTD to Cameron Waterworks District No. 10. HB 332 changes the frequency of mullet stock assessments.

Rep. Dewith Carrier, R-Oakdale, had HB 832 sent to the governor. It provides for a 10-year renewable property tax of up to 3 mills for coroner’s offices in 32 parishes. Five parishes already had the millage that has to be approved by voters.

Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn, R-Hornbeck, sponsored HB 689 that creates the retail seafood dealer’s license, along with license fees of $230 for residents and $460 for non-residents to be phased in over a two-year period. The legislation has been sent to the governor.