Special Legislative Session Winds Down

December 15, 2006

Reported by: Britney Glaser

Louisiana legislators expect today to be the last day of the December special session in Baton Rouge.  There is not much on the agenda today as this special session called by Governor Kathleen Blanco winds down.  There are three bills that the House passed earlier this week that will be in the hands of the Senate today for approval-and if everything moves along as anticipated, the 10-day session will conclude on this eighth day.

Special session kicked off last Friday with a parade of sorts led by Senate President Don Hines marching to the beat of a New Orleans jazz band, and it appears that today there will be a parade of legislators leaving this session singing quite a different tune than Governor Blanco.

Two tax breaks and a $300 million economic development bill are all that remain of Blanco's original plan to distribute $2 billion in surplus funds to the people of Louisiana.  Some legislators say that a 10-day session is simply too short to debate these huge financial decisions.

Senator Willie Mount says, "Because of the time that's needed...that's really important.  I think it's an issue, not so much of party politics, but of people representing their constituencies throughout the state."

Although there are only a few votes to cast by legislators today, the items on the table affect the entire state of Louisiana.

Senator James David Cain says, "We will vote on a couple of things that did pass in the House, that are funded.  Those will be for the steel mill, I think we have enough money in there for the steel mill to possibly hire 3,000 people in Louisiana, which is wonderful.  And also for the citizen's insurance rebate.  One other good thing that did get through was a $75 child tax credit."

Now, as this session is on its final leg, legislators say the regular session in April 2007 will offer a better venue and timeframe to bring up these fiscal issues again.

"The majority of our House and potentially our Senate," says Mount, "will be moving toward that fiscal session in April as an opportunity to take the time to study those issues that we've debated this week as well as many other issues in the future."