Monday, March 29, 2010

Warning: Legislature in Session

The Louisiana Legislature is now is session. The Times has sent questionaires to each of our local representatives. I am cherry picking some questions and answers from Senators Robert Adley and Buddy Shaw and from Representatives Henry Burns and Jane Smith and adding my comments. Feel free to chime in.
Here is a link to The Times opinion page so you can read the answers given by all of the local reps.

What areas or budget reductions would you change in the governor's proposed budget?
: Remove cuts to war veterans homes totaling $1 million statewide.
Shaw: I am genuinely concerned about care for the handicapped and mentally ill, such as those housed at the northwest facility in Bossier City and other locations that service those people.
Burns: Early childhood education.
No disagreement on any of these

What are the top bills you plan to introduce and focus on during the session?
: The executive branch still ranks dead last in transparency. I will have legislation to bring more sunshine on the executive process, especially budget information.
Adley: I passed legislation two years ago to prohibit undersecretaries and prohibit family from having state contracts in the same way as are legislators. The administration opposed stopping family members; but the person impacted is no longer with the administration, so I will try to finish the job.
Good on both of these. For all of the governor's spiels on talk shows and in the national media about the 'gold standard' of ethics, he has continually blocked any efforts to place ethics restrictions on his office. Of all governor's offices in the country, it is dead last on transparency. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
Adley: Change pedophile law for a spouse to report pedophiles without fear of reprisal. Spouses are afraid to take action for fear of retaliation of the other spouse.
I don't understand how the legislature passing a law of this nature will offer any real protection to anyone. There are already remedies in place (domestic abuse restraining orders).
Shaw: Require retailers to provide certain information to a consumer who purchases an iguana.
Okay, I won't even go there.
Shaw: Provide that funeral policies pay the cash value on the face of the policy or the amount equal to the total premiums paid, whichever is greater.
Don't understand this one, don't insurance policies already have to do this?
Burns: Provide an opportunity for places of worship to establish a security plan, amending the state's concealed handgun provisions. (House Bill 68)
Apparently being done on behalf of a constituent. If the need is there, I'm not opposed. I'm not sure this will go anywhere.
Smith: Provide that the director of the Division of Administrative Law is appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court rather than the governor's office (House Bill 1077). This bill is a work in progress in how to address some of the concerns that the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana had concerning the administrative law judges and the Ethics Board.
Excellent proposal. This is at the heart of the ethics debate. During the special session on ethics a couple of years ago, power to enforce was removed from the Ethics Board and given to administrative law judges that are appointed by the governor. That didn't pass the 'smell test' and needs to be rectified.

Should the office of lieutenant governor be abolished? If so, who/where should the duties of lieutenant governor be assigned to?
: I do not think we should abolish the office for several reasons. I am not for creating "kings and kingdoms." I support a balanced government with as many checks and balances as possible.
Burns: I would consider abolishing the office of lieutenant governor. I would place the majority of this office's duties and responsibilities with the secretary of state.
I am 100% with Adley on this one. It is very important to have that constitutional check. I am lukewarm on combining the office with Secretary of State. I believe we should think long and hard about this one.
(As a side note, when Paul Cyr was Lieutenant Governor in the Huey P. Long days, he attempted to take over the governorship when Long refused to resign after being elected to the Senate. In 1931, Cyr filed suit to have himself declared governor.)
From Wikipedia:
"He had a justice of the peace in Shreveport give him the oath of office in the Caddo Parish courthouse. Cyr arrived in Baton Rouge and threatened to take over the governor's mansion. Long ordered the National Guard to mobilize, and troops surrounded the capitol with strict orders not to admit Cyr. After a few days, state police replaced the guardsmen. For a time, the city was an "armed camp", with both Long and Cyr packing pistols."


  1. Hide your Red Bull - Adley is has wings and intends to take yours - of course - because a single constituent told him to do so

  2. There is a term we used in the Army to describe what is about to happen in Baton Rouge. BOHICA. (pronounced bo he ca). It is an acronym for Bend Over Here It Comes Again!

  3. This Iguana deal with Buddy (my Senator) has me a bit stumped. I mean, is this a big problem?

    I know that I'm kinda out of the "exotic pet" loop, but are there a lot of Iguanas causing problems around here? It doesn't really sound like the kind of junk Buddy would get involved with...maybe he knows something I don't. Duh!

    I think we could do without the Lieutenant Governor's office, but I don't necessarily think we should ex it. The Tourism Bureau could absorb the duties, but then I guess we'd have an appointed guy in charge, instead of an elected one. Dunno! I guess without the office, the Sec. of State, or somebody would have to assume the Goober spot if the Goober quits, or dies, or goes to jail or something. Dunno!

    And oh yeah...what G.R. said...

  4. Andy,
    I think Buddy is being proactive, and that's a good thing. We have to stop the inguana problem before it starts.
    I've heard that in south Florida, where there is a sizable population of inguana, that when it gets below a certain temperature iguanas become lethargic and start falling out of trees.
    I would hate to see that happen here, because our temps get lower than south Florida's more often, and our problems, if this iguana situation isn't nipped in the "Bud"dy, would be a lot worse.

  5. Well, I figured there was something going on that I didn't know about. I mean, Buddy's not really the type to do "silly."

    I looked up a couple of articles on it this morning, and I see where he's coming from.

  6. I read up a little on the iquana problem too. Some of those things get huge. It's a shame that people are such idiots that they don't know what they are buying and have to be warned, but so be it.

  7. Thank goodness there is a legitimate reason for what Dr. Shaw is proposing before the Legislature. I've met him, and he seems to be a sincere and honest person.

    I was afraid that he may have had too much exposure to Barbara Norton, who is realmental midget.

  8. Norton is proposing that every public library be forced to have a separate African-American section, and she is also proposing that the chillrens should not be whupped in school.

  9. Whuppin' chirrens at scoo? Do they still do that?


    Norton is quite possibly the most complex piece of work I've EVER seen on the local political scene.

    "African American Section" at the libraries? Well, I gots some nuz for Babs...I'd expect a "Mexican-American Section" would stand a better chance, judging by the current demographic shift.

    Ignurnt! If the legislature by some strange happenstance passes that...dangit Jim! I was having a lovely day, until I read that.

    Heh! My word verification: nowayz

  10. Jim, you might want to start another blog post concerning the obviously biased and uninformed poll question on your blog. Surely you're aware that both the Mayor & Chief Halphen have both admitted that if the tax renewal/increase is passed there is no guarantee from any city source that those proceeds will be used totally or mostly to keep fire & police from being cut. Those funds go into the "general fund" and are then allocated to whatever the mayor & CC determine. Your disingenuous attemp to make people believe that a 4% mil, that if passed, becomes a 6% millage won't be an increase is laughable.

    The Mayor has said publicly that we are still overstaffed in the police department in his opinion. So why don't you do a little research because obviously at your age you can't shoot from the hip anymore.

  11. You're mistaken. The tax is dedicated to police and fire salaries and cannot go to anything else.
    It is currently 4.9%, not 4%. It is 4.9% because the council deemed it so, and can do the same after the renewal.
    I'm not being disingenuous, those are just the facts.

  12. You are WRONG. Call Sammy Halphen and ask him if those "property tax" funds are dedicated to only fire & police. They have never been dedicated funds, they will go into the general operating fund. Please do not confuse this with a dedicated "sales" tax.

    What about the Mayor's opinion that we are overstaffed on the police dept because of our low crime rate?

    This election is for a 6% millage renewal, if as you say it's currently 4.9% is it a tax increase or not?

    You ARE either being disingenuous or you don't have a clue, which is it?

  13. Truth Detector,

    Have you done the math? At the current rate of 4.9 mills you are paying $49/year on a 100K property. If it is raised to the maximum of 6 mills, you'll pay a whopping $60/year or $5/month. I've done the math on my home. I'll pay $81/year. $6.75/month. I'd gladly pay more.

    The truth is, it doesn't matter if the funds are dedicated by law to police and fire or if it goes into the general fund and is then transferred. If this renewal doesn't pass, our city will lose approximately $3.5 million in revenue. It's no secret the the mayor is hell-bent on laying off police and firemen. If the renewal fails we will lose 40 or more of our police and firemen. Worse, it's not the paper tiger desk jockeys in administration who go home, it's the men and women at the bottom of the seniority list. Some of these guys are bringing home as little as $700 per paycheck (i know first hand)to put on bullet-proof vests and bunker gear in order to keep our families safe...and you want to argue over which account your $5/month goes to?
    The truth is, if we lose these firemen our fire rating will go down thereby causing your homeowner's insurance premiums to go up. I would venture a guess that the increase will be more than $5/month. Would you rather send that $5 to your city to ensure our continued safety or to the insurance company that has already been bailed-out with your tax dollars?
    Truth Detector, you've investigated the wrong question. The question is, are you willing to give up your newspaper a few days a month, or a drive-thru meal once a month, or your Starbuck's fix once a month to keep our city safe and these guys working?

  14. Truth Detector isn't interested in a geniuine conversation, just in being insulting.

  15. What's insulting is you insulting my intelligence and the intelligence of the voters and taxpayers of Bossier City.

    nofanoflo, I have several friends who are fire & police in Bossier City. My point is that the Mayor has an agenda to go around to the Rotary Club et al to campaign for this tax renewal/increase based on a lie. He has every intention of cutting more fire & police whether this passes or not. To say that these are dedicated funds is also a lie. Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

  16. I've checked it out. Give us some prove of your contention.
    You're the one challenging, it is up to you to back up your challenge.
    Prove me wrong and I'll do an entire blog post on it.

  17. Truth Detector,

    No one is arguing your contention that the mayor wants layoff regardless of the tax's success or failure. Don't forget that even with the tax our city is still $4 million short. They still need to not only make up the entire $6.5 million deficit ( $3.5 million of which comes from this tax), but also a$1 million deficit from the retirement system. So even with the potential funds that the tax would generate we still have to find $4 million dollars. So yes, regardless we're going to lose some police and firemen because they seem to be the only city departments the mayor wants to target. But which would you rather have, 40 police and firemen lost or maybe 20.
    I am a spouse of one of those people on the chopping block. I see every day what my spouse must risk for that little check. These departments are dangerously understaffed on the front lines. So yes, every single day my family risks our most precious member for our city. We knew we'd never be wealthy, but my spouse wanted to serve the community doing what they were born to do. Every day I say a prayer for their safe return home. The very least our citizens could do is try to save these jobs by voting for this renewal. Voting no won't solve the problem with our city leaders' irresponsibility and incompetence. That opportunity comes in 3 years. They have nothing to lose. Voting no punishes the wrong person. Voting no puts the ones left behind at too great a risk. What happens when there is no backup? Officers die. What happens when the nearest ambulance is across town because the city's closed the station near you? You family member loses precious time, citzens suffer unneccessary losses. It doesn't matter what the Mayor is saying or to whom. If the money never comes in, at least 40 families will be financially devistated and our city will suffer.

  18. Truth Detector: you wrote, "To say that these are dedicated funds is also a lie."
    The State bond commission approved the election for:
    LIO-063 - Bossier Parish, City of Bossier City - 6 mills tax, 10 years, 2011-2020, operating and
    maintaining, including salary adjustments, the Fire and Police Departments.
    I won't insult you by calling your a liar, although you are free with your insults. Now tell me I'm lying when I say this is a dedicated tax.

  19. Jim, I'm aware of what L10-063 says @ Treasury website. The 2 things I'm trying to get across to you is neither the Mayor or Halphen will guarantee that all or even most of that money will be used to maintain the current levels of fire and police staff.

    This started with your poll question, you cannot say that if this passes we will MAINTAIN our current level of protection. I don't think it's fair to insinuate to people that it will.

    nofanoflo, if the city would come out and guarantee that all of the money generated by this millage increase would be used to maintain current staffing then I would be out campaigning for it as well, but they won't.

    I will attempt to get a statement from the Mayor's office proving to both of you that they don't see this as a dedicated fund only to maintain fire & police.

  20. You get it and I'll blog it.

  21. Ok, I figured it out. I spoke to the director of the La Bond Commission and he refered me to: - specifically (B). You are technically correct Jim (my apologies) in that the ad valorum tax election with a specific stated use must use those funds for stated purpose.

    There is a huge BUT, but since the total tax collected will be below the fire & police budget total they can say we used the tax money only for fire & police when it's not true. Another words if they spent $50.00 in 2009 on fire & police as a whole as long as property taxes collected didn't exceed $50 then they can say we spent all the tax money on fire & police.

    Now lets say at the end of 2010 when they do 2011 budget, they budget $30 instead of $50, which means more layoffs, as long as the 6 mils doesn't exceed $30 they legally can say we used all of the millage for fire & police.

    I'm saying we have a Mayor already in March going around saying we are overstaffed in police dept. The writing on the wall is clear is it not?

    Still no response from Mayor's office.

  22. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on an answer from the mayor.

  23. The truth detector is pointing out all the flaws of others again - cant wait to see him run for office - what a blood bath that will be - go mt - go

  24. Anon 8:41pm: There is no doubt I have many flaws, but being a coward is not one of them. If you have a problem with mt or TD why don't you call me and we'll discuss it. I'm not writing here about a persons personal flaws, I'm trying to get to the bottom of this "good ole boy" network thriving in Bossier City at every single level of govt we have.
    You strike me as part of that, but please correct me if I'm mistaken.

  25. Jim, as far as public libraries go i believe there once was an african american section but people like Ms. Norton called it racist....


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