Lawmakers want better fiscal review process

The chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee said he is considering drafting legislation that would apply additional layers of scrutiny to the fiscal review process used for laws passed by the Louisiana Legislature.

When a bill is introduced in the House or Senate that could result in new state spending or a loss of money, the Legislative Fiscal Office prepares a sort of monetary report for that legislation.

It’s commonly referred to as a “fiscal note.”

Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, said those notes are supposed to offer lawmakers a roadmap for how much money a change in the law will cost or save the state.

Recent sessions, however, have seen lawmakers like Mills questioning the accuracy of a small number of fiscal notes.

Mills said in a recent interview that he wanted to see an intense follow-up review of fiscal notes after bills become a law and he may file legislation to accomplish that goal.

He also said he planned to meet with Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Chairman J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, to work on the concept.

He argued that a follow-up review process would give lawmakers better information to craft budgets, since revenue streams can change from year to year based on a bevy of factors.

“We should be making an assessment of that, Mills said, “because that’s why the numbers were put in the budget.”

Fiscal notes often include forecasts for several years of revenue changes, but they are rarely updated or revisited after a law goes into effect.

Facebook helped registration push

The latest voter registration period for the Nov. 8 election has concluded, but it’ll be another week or so until the Secretary of State’s Office knows the final tally for the number of new voters added to the rolls.

Yet in a state where 85 percent of voters are already registered, there probably won’t be much of a spike.

Election officials, nonetheless, do anticipate that there could be a minor increase among younger voters. But the trick with this portion of the electorate, as always, is making sure they show up at the polls.

There will likewise be a big jump in Republican registrations for the entire calendar year, but that’s due largely to the money that was put behind the presidential primaries in the spring.

The real winner from the registration push this summer in Louisiana will probably be Facebook. The social media giant made an aggressive drive to gets its users registered and election officials tell LaPolitics that thousands of new voters were added to the rolls on the days Facebook made its appeals.

Briggs still recovering

The physical condition of Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs slowly continues to improve, according to a statement released by the group.

Briggs has been moved from an Asheville, North Carolina, medical facility to his hometown of Lafayette for further treatment while he is recovering.

He sustained a serious head injury earlier this month after slipping in the stairway at a home in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, LOGA’s board of directors has named son Gifford Briggs, currently the vice president, as acting president of the organization pending Don Briggs’ return.

LABI scores lawmakers

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry has released its 2016 legislative scorecard and it has a brand new look.

Rather than giving lawmakers letter grades, as in previous years, scores are now broken down into categorized brackets.

Also new: LABI will be hosting a reception for its MVPs, All-Stars and Honorable Mentions — these are the new scoring categories — on Nov. 17. It’ll be part of the inaugural LABI Free Enterprise Awards reception.

The Legislature met for a record-setting 19 weeks in three separate sessions this year and LABI has decided to score it all. While 2,782 bills and resolutions were filed, LABI analyzed 16 votes in the House and Senate.

The House averaged a score of 52 percent and the Senate averaged a score of 44 percent.

More information on the scores can be found at LABI.org.

Vitter leaves something behind

Outgoing U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be leaving something besides memories behind for his successor, who will be chosen by voters this fall.

Vitter has compiled for his replacement a six-chapter, 102-page “Constituent Service Guidebook,” complete with appendices.

He has sent copies of the guidebook to several of the major candidates in Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race.

The guidebook breaks down the process of fulfilling the important task of constituent services in a U.S. Senate office.

“Individuals often come to their federal representatives as a last resort, short on patience and frustrated with the slow pace of bureaucracy, which is why the single most important part of a U.S. Senator’s role in representative government is to maintain a completely open dialogue with constituents,” said Vitter. “At the end of the day, a U.S. Senate office is a resource for the people it represents and can help constituents resolve issues between them and specific government agencies.”

They Said It

“I think we should have a moment of silence for Mike.”

—Treasurer John Kennedy, referring to the late LSU tiger mascot, before the start of the LPB/CABL U.S. Senate debate last week

“You can run but you can’t hide, Charles.”

—Congressman John Fleming, to Congressman Charles Boustany, during the debate

“When you getting kicked in the rear, it usually means you’re out front.”

—Kennedy, during the debate

 

About Jeremy Alford 227 Articles
Jeremy Alford is an independent journalist and the co-author of LONG SHOT, which recounts Louisiana's 2015 race for governor. His bylines appear regularly in The New York Times and he has served as an on-camera analyst for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

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