Hectic Week Six as Legislators Hear Rescheduled Bills

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Legislative Advocacy

Home » Hectic Week Six as Legislators Hear Rescheduled Bills

Legislators logged long hours last week, closing on the halfway point of session by considering a hefty list of legislation rescheduled due to the previous week’s weather. One top 1A priority, legislation to revamp Louisiana Economic Development (LED), cleared Senate Commerce without opposition and now heads to the Senate floor. Across the Capitol, legislators in House Education started the approval process for the annual Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), the state’s vehicle for providing funding to local school districts. And last but not least, House and Governmental Affairs began consideration of legislation calling for a limited constitutional convention to rework Louisiana’s bloated state governing document.

Legislators have until June 3 to handle business before adjournment. Read on for a recap of week six and a look ahead at week seven.





LED Restructure Bill Clears Senate Commerce
Senate Commerce Chair Sen. Beth Mizell is authoring legislation – SB 494 – to implement a reorganization of Louisiana Economic Development (LED). 1A is supporting SB 494 to strengthen LED as a business-first, best-in-class economic development agency.

The bill makes key changes that modernize LED’s organizational structure and operations and remove burdensome regulations constraining the department’s ability to function proactively and keep pace with the business sector. Key provisions of SB 494 include:

  • Creating the Louisiana Economic Development Partnership (LEDP), a 12-member board led by highly-qualified private-sector members representing a cross-section of Louisiana’s key industries:
    • 9 gubernatorial appointments
    • 1 appointment by the Speaker of the House
    • 1 appointment by the President of the Senate
    • LED Secretary, as a non-voting member
  • Requiring LED to develop a long-range economic development plan and a comprehensive strategic plan with the advice and consultation of the LEDP
  • Allowing LED to establish a 501(c)3 corporation to support economic development
  • Redesigning membership of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) board to add more economic development and business oversight
  • Requiring a plan to seek federal, private, and other grant funds to support economic growth

SB 494 easily cleared Senate Commerce last Wednesday, 4/17, where it was reported favorably as amended without opposition. The bill could be considered by the full Senate as early as next week.



Insurance Reform
1A-supported bills seeking to address Louisiana’s property insurance crisis continued advancing at the Capitol last week, including:

  • HB 120 by Rep. Willard – would ensure continuation of the Louisiana Fortify Homes Program. The program authorizes the Commissioner of Insurance to make grants of up to $10,000 to homeowners to retrofit roofs to better withstand weather events, and will sunset in June 2025 unless extended by the Legislature. HB 120 was reported favorably by Senate Insurance on 4/17 and now heads to the full Senate
  • SB 323 by Sen. Talbot – Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple is supporting legislation to promote good faith and fair dealing in the property insurance claims process in effort to make Louisiana a more attractive place for insurers to write policies. SB 323 would provide clear rights and timelines for both the insured and the insurer, encouraging swift claims resolutions and reducing the possibility of litigation. SB 323 was reported favorably as amended by House Insurance on 4/17 and is now pending consideration in the full House

1A is monitoring dozens of additional bills related to insurance rates, policies, market participation, and more, and is supporting bills to increase availability, affordability, and reliability of property insurance and bring Louisiana’s legal environment more in line with other states.



M.J. Foster Promise Program Funding
1A is supporting legislation authored by Senate Education Chairman Sen. Rick Edmonds, SB 272, which would increase the annual funding cap for the M.J. Foster Promise Program. The program provides financial aid for Louisianans to earn credentials that align with high-demand jobs in industries like healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. SB 272 would increase the annual funding cap for the program from $10.5 million to $40 million, providing increased capacity to serve Louisianans seeking training to enter the workforce.

SB 272 passed the Senate unanimously on 4/15 and now heads to House Education.



Minimum Foundation Program (MFP)
Last Tuesday, 4/16, House Education considered Louisiana’s Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding formula, the mechanism through which the state provides funding to local school districts. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) first adopts the formula, which then must be approved by the Legislature or, if rejected, gets sent back to BESE.

Committee members unanimously approved this year’s formula, which includes the following:

  • $4,015 maintained as the base per-pupil amount provided to school systems
  • $30 million to support literacy and math tutoring
  • $25 million to continue the differentiated compensation for teacher pay
  • $14.3 million increase for rising operational costs for school districts
  • $2 million to provide school systems with support for apprenticeships and internships

House Education Chair Rep. Schlegel is carrying the measure to approve the FY 24-25 MFP formula, HCR 21. The resolution continues its journey through the Legislature and its next stop will be House Appropriations, where it could be considered as early as this week.

For full details on FY 24-25 MFP formula, review BESE’s March 5 meeting minutes HERE.



Carbon Capture and Storage
Last week, 1A opposed another round of measures heard in the House Natural Resources committee that seek to limit the growth of carbon capture projects in Louisiana. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology has been in use for decades and has the potential to attract billions of dollars in investment to our state. 1A supported Louisiana’s application for primacy over Class VI injection wells, which was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year, positioning Louisiana years ahead of most states in attracting CCS projects and empowering our state to continue leading the world on innovative energy solutions.

1A opposed the following bills in House Natural Resources last week, all put forward by Rep. Robby Carter:

  • HB 169 – removes the cap on the dollar amount of non-economic damages recoverable from accidents related to carbon sequestration
  • HB 276 – requires carbon dioxide sequestration activity comply with local land use planning
  • HB 729 – removes eminent domain authority for carbon dioxide sequestration

 HB 276 and HB 729 were voluntarily deferred by the author, while HB 169 was reported favorably as amended and now heads to the House floor. Amendments made in committee alter HB 169 to retain a cap on damages but increase that cap from $250,000 to $500,000 and specify that the limit applies per person rather than per occurrence.



Constitutional Convention
Last week, House and Governmental Affairs Chairman Rep. Beau Beaullieu presented his committee with details on his legislation, HB 800, to convene a Constitutional Convention to restructure Louisiana’s overly complex governing document.

Louisiana’s constitution is the 8th longest in the nation. Paring the document down by removing provisions that instead more appropriately fit in statute will provide flexibility for our elected representatives to respond to the ever-evolving needs of our state.

HB 800 calls for a Convention of 171 delegates, comprised of the 144 members of the Legislature and 27 delegates appointed by the Governor, to convene on May 20, 2024. Delegates would frame a new constitution under the directive that they determine the provisions of the document that constitute the fundamental and foundational law of the state that should remain in the constitution and place any remaining provisions in statute.

The Committee took two days of testimony on the bill, where Chairman Beaullieu previewed amendments, including language to clarify that the rights provided to Louisiana’s citizens in Article 1 of the Constitution, the Declaration of Rights, will remain intact through the process of drafting the new document. The amendments also require that all actions taken by the Convention would need to clear separate, majority votes of all three sets of delegates participating – i.e., a new draft constitution would need to garner a majority vote of the delegates representing the House, a majority vote of the delegates representing the Senate, and a majority vote of the delegates appointed by the Governor prior to being submitted to voters.

Chairman Beaullieu opted not to call for a vote on the bill last week in order to give committee members ample time to consider his proposed amendments. House and Governmental Affairs is expected to vote on the measure this Wednesday, 4/24.





All eyes will be trained on the all-important state budget and capital outlay bills in week seven, HB 1 and HB 2 respectively, as funding for various programs and infrastructure projects across the state hinge on passage of those measures each year. House and Governmental Affairs is also expected to vote on HB 800, legislation calling for a limited Constitutional Convention to reorganize Louisiana’s overly-complex governing charter, this Wednesday, 4/24. 1A-supported legislation to revamp Louisiana Economic Development (LED), SB 494, could also be considered by the full Senate as early as this week.

Additionally, be on the lookout for a rescheduled Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) meeting in the coming days, where forecasters will provide their latest projections on the revenue the state will have available for appropriation in the current and next fiscal years.


Money, Money, Money
Legislators are scheduled to begin considering the always highly-anticipated annual “money bills” this week:

  • House Appropriations will hear HB 1, the state’s annual operating budget, tomorrow, 4/23. The legislation is slated to fund major priorities across the state, including the M.J. Foster Promise Program, the Louisiana Fortify Homes Program, early childhood care and education programs, coastal protection initiatives, and more
  • House Ways and Means will take up HB 2, the state’s construction budget, today, 4/22. Also known as the capital outlay bill, the measure stands to provide near-term funding for a variety of infrastructure investments across Acadiana, including I-49 South

Amendments are par for the course on the state’s money bills, so don’t be surprised if these measures are referred out of committee with substantial changes. Stay tuned for future updates.



1A is tracking key legislation across three priority areas outlined in our 2024 Legislative Priorities:

  • Economic competitiveness
  • Talent development
  • Infrastructure investment

Be on the lookout for 1A legislative updates on these issues, and more, every Monday morning.