Search This Blog


Session change bills serve LA legislators, not people

As Louisiana struggles through another tough budget balancing exercise, proposals that could ease difficulties related to that also include undesirable side effects that disqualify these from changing the state’s Constitution.

Two bills, SB 25 by state Sen. JP Morrell and HB 1139 by state Rep. Dee Richard, seek to amend Louisiana’s Constitution to remove the present distinction between regular sessions in odd- and even-numbered years. Presently, during even-numbered years the Legislature cannot consider tax matters plus its members face filing limits on bills (but not on prefiling) in a regular session also shorter than these sessions in odd-numbered years, those which having no such restrictions.

The bills do not differ much. Both would make session lengths identical to the even-numbered standard of a maximum of 45 days meeting in no more than 60 and have no material restrictions on legislation. Morrell’s would keep the earlier start date of the longer odd-numbered sessions, while Richard’s would continue session commencement at the later even-numbered time.


Edwards expansion assumptions highly questionable

More questions have surfaced over the mysterious and increasingly extravagant claims made by the Gov. John Bel Edwards Administration over alleged savings from Medicaid expansion, claims that threaten to introduce budgetary chaos in the upcoming fiscal year.

It’s not just that the Department of Health and Hospitals continues to hike the “savings” number for fiscal year 2017, currently up to $184 million, while refusing to make public the details of its analysis despite data from other states’ experiences continuing to show steep underestimations in the costs involved. For example, commonly the numbers of people coming onto to Medicaid as a result of expansion include not just new enrollees at the expanded, designed-to-addict-states lower rate, but also others at the higher standard rate, many of whom abandon private plans voluntarily or otherwise. So while DHH may have forecast 300,000 new enrollees, it acknowledges this could go as high as 450,000 in the first year – a figure much more in line with a 2013 previous analysis by DHH under former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

But now a pair of the hospital partners operating designated state charity hospitals have expressed doubt over another component comprising the reputed savings – reductions in state payments for uncompensated care costs. The state sees a reduction of these because, theoretically, the more people insured through Medicaid, the fewer UCC dollars needed. The partners think the state’s estimates too rosy, requiring at least 70 percent of the uninsured enrolling in the first year.


Edwards' order keeps encouraging dependency

It makes for great politics, but the executive order Gov. John Bel Edwards issued regarding receipt of food aid to single, able-bodied individuals changes next to nothing.

Towards the end of his term, former Gov. Bobby Jindal wisely passed on extending the waiver the state accepted for recipients aged 18-49 for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This meant that, to receive typically $194 a month in vouchers to buy staple food items, qualifiers did not have to show they had worked, or participated in a training program, or volunteered at least 20 hours a week, no later than three months preceding SNAP utilization.

With a measure in place to allow states with a certain level of unemployment of opt out of imposing the requirements, recently an increasing number of states have gone this route of refusing the waiver with success in employment stimulation, volunteerism, and citizens going without hunger. But when Edwards took control of the state’s executive branch he made the implementation short-lived as he immediately reversed that decision.


LA must avoid endorsing surrogacy by its regulation

In the years since former Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed bills that would allow the state to enforce surrogacy contracts, the case against them still remains in the current incarnation of the notion.

HB 1102 by state Rep. Stuart Bishop largely tracks the language of the 2014 bill vetoed by Jindal. It would give state backing to the contracts, justiciable in state courts. The practice goes on legally in Louisiana, but if one party alleges breach no judicial remedy currently exists.

The bill provides one, but the merit of that framework does not obviate its disqualification as meritorious public policy. Rather, its basic concept makes it unsuitable for that produces two deleterious impacts on society.