Early bird legislation so far focusing on retirement law and crime.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The regular session won’t come out from under the covers until March 12. But lawmakers are already jamming bills into the hopper and staffers from both chambers are moving them into public view.
HOUSE– As of 8 a.m. Thursday, there were a total of 18 bills filed by representatives. The Legislature’s site will tell you there are 21, but House Bills 1, 2 and 3 are traditionally reserved for the state’s major budget bills, which have not yet been released.
– An overwhelming majority of the House bills, or 10 of them, deal exclusively with retirement issues.
– Another three bills deal with criminal law and handguns.
– The rest address issues related to health care, education, disabled access and local government.
– Leading the early bird filings are Reps. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, and Tony Ligi, R-Metairie, who have both introduced three bills that are now public.
– As of 8 a.m., there were 13 bills filed by senators.
– As in the House, retirement bills account for 10 of these slots.
– The remaining three deal with criminal law.
– The early bird leader is Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, who has thus filed most of the bills made public, or 10.
In particular, the retirement bills filed for debate should be interesting to watch. Gov. Bobby Jindal announced his plan for tackling the state’s unfunded accrued liability, or UAL Wednesday. While Jindal’s plan aims to chip away at the $18.5 billion UAL, his administration is also expected to take a strong stance against any bills that might add to that total in the meantime.
As expected, retire-rehire — one of the many factors that have contributed to the UAL — will be an issue this session. Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, has filed two related pieces of legislation that would create new loopholes in a system that was recently tightened up by lawmakers:
– HB 19: Allows retirees rehired as substitute teachers to collect retirement benefits during reemployment under certain circumstances.
– HB 20: Provides for the payment of benefits to retired members of the Teachers’ Retirement System who are rehired as adjunct professors.
On the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, has HB 14, which would prohibit certain pension members who are reemployed after retirement from receiving retirement benefits or accruing additional benefits. Among the complaints about rehired retirees in recent years has been their ability to collect two checks — their original pension plus their new salary — while banking even more benefits as a rehire.
OTHER PENSION-RELATED BILLS
– HB 9 by Ligi: (Constitutional Amendment) Authorizes the legislature to provide for forfeiture of retirement benefits by public officials and employees who are convicted of felony acts associated with their positions.
– HB 10 by Ligi: Requires forfeiture of retirement benefits by any public employee or elected official who is a member of a public retirement system and is convicted of certain state or federal felony acts associated with his office.
As for what’s shaking in regard to criminal law, Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, has HB 15, which would allow off-duty law enforcement officers to carry concealed handguns in certain facilities, like bars — just as long as they’re not boozing it up.
There are also a number of bills filed that either create new crimes or stiffen the penalties for existing crimes, such as:
– SB 4 by Morrell: Criminalizes the failure to report the sexual abuse of a child.
To take a look at all of the bills filed for the regular session so far, click HERE.