Seven Things Conservatives Can Expect From The Upcoming Legislative Session

The 2015 Legislative Session begins today. There will be many issues the Legislature will be considering. Here are the most important ones conservatives need to focus on over the next 60 days.

  • The budget and how we fix it. Let’s go ahead and state the obvious, there will be no major tax and budget reform this session. Governor Jindal has given the Legislature little guidance on how to fix the budget, except he really doesn’t want to sign anything that can be construed as a tax increase by Americans for Tax Reform. What will most likely happen is the Legislature will likely reduce some tax credits, such as the Motion Picture Tax Credit, and call it a day. No one really wants to sell the needed slaying of Louisiana’s sacred cows such as the university system, corporate welfare handouts, TOPS, and pension reform.
  • Paycheck protection: will the union stranglehold be broken? Both the House and Senate will be considering paycheck protection bills, which will prevent government employee unions from withholding dues from the paychecks of state and local employees. There are two competiting versions, HB 418 by State Rep. Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette) and SB 204 by State Sen. Danny Martiny (R-Metairie), that have been filed. This is LABI’s top priority for the session and I expect it to pass, in some form.
  • Marriage and religious freedom. If this there is going to be national media attention on Louisiana, it will be on State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City)’s HB 707. The bill would bar the state and local governments from penalizing businesses and individuals for their views on marriage. Broader bills were demagogued in Arkansas and Indiana and subsequently both states watered down their bills to render them meaningless. Johnson is determined to not that let that happen here in Louisiana and he’s set up a website to campaign for his bill. This legislation is the Louisiana Family Forum’s top priority this session and Governor Jindal would love to sign it so he can have something to campaign on in Iowa. My guess is that it will pass and pass overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature.
  • Will we do something about the solar tax credits? Big Solar has tried to expand their influence on the state level. They tried to buy a seat on the Public Service Commission by putting up the Alliance for Affordable Energy’s Forest Wright against Commissioner Eric Skrmetta. Wright didn’t even live in the district, but State Rep. Paul Hollis (R-Mandeville) has filed a bill to impose residency requirements to deter future Forest Wrights. There are numerous bills that have been filed to either repeal the solar tax credit or sunset it this year. They should pass if the Legislature is serious about closing the deficit.
  • Common Core fight. The most confident prediction I can make is that Common Core will still be the law in Louisiana. Nearly all the bills being backed by the kooky anti-Common Core cult and the teachers’ unions to destroy Louisiana’s education standards are dead on arrival in the House and Senate Education Committees. The Legislature really does not want to deal with this issue in this session. Also, it will take time to write new, tougher education standards. In the meantime, it is a terrible idea to go back to the weaker pre-Common Core standards.
  • Cigarette taxes are going up, the question is how high. The one issue the Legislature can agree on is that tobacco taxes are going to go up. There are numerous bills filed by legislators in both parties that want to raise tobacco taxes. Governor Jindal is open to signing a tobacco tax increase. The only question is how much more will a pack of cigarettes cost starting this summer.
  • Will there be changes in Louisiana’s marijuana laws? There are also quite a few bills dealing with marijuana legalization, decriminalization, and medical marijuana. The sheriffs and district attorneys oppose all of them. However, decriminalization proponents will have big argument in their favor this year, the budget. It costs a lot of money to throw people in prison for marijuana possession. I don’t expect the bills on marijuana legalization to pass. I expect the Legislature to punt on medical marijuana until next year. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see marijuana decriminalization pass, but I expect Jindal to veto it.

There are quite a few other issues the Legislature will tackle, but here are the big seven issues that I expect to be hotly debated over the next 60 days.



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