The Louisiana Legislature likely will hold a second special session later this year to address the state’s $750 million budget shortfall because lawmakers can’t take up revenue-generating bills during the current regular session.
That’s why state Rep. Dee Richard and other legislators are pitching bills that would allow the Legislature to take up money matters every year. On Tuesday, his bill advanced though a House committee without opposition. It now heads to the full House for consideration.
The state Senate already has rejected a similar bill.
Richard’s bill also would limit the regular session to 45 legislative days over a 60-calendar-day period.
“If we had an open session, then we wouldn’t need these two special sessions,” said Richard, who has no party affiliation. The Legislature met for a three-week special session before the regular session started this year to try to close the budget shortfall in the current year and to try to generate enough revenue for the budget that begins July 1. Despite raising several taxes, including the sales tax, lawmakers still face a $750 million hole.
Jim Patterson, a lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, said he opposed the measure because it would give the Legislature twice the opportunity to raise taxes.
Some legislators on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee took issue with the idea of shortening the session because they don’t want to be rushed to address the hundreds of bills proposed every year.
“We really don’t have time to vet properly a lot of our existing bills during the 85 days (of the regular session),” said Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, who suggested Richard consider an amendment to limit the number of bills filed every year.
Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, said he liked the bill.
“The longer we’re here, it’s dangerous,” he said. “We create too much bureaucratic work that’s unnecessary.”