Legislators deliver year-in-review to PABIAug 3rd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: top story
This year’s legislative review for the Plaquemines Association for Business and Industry (PABI) was given to members by Senators A.G. Crowe, David Heitmeier and John Alario, along with termed Rep. Ernest Wooton. Pictured, from left, are District 1 Sen. Crowe, PABI Executive Director Bob Thomas, District 105 Rep. Wooton, PABI Chairman Mike Ford, District 7 Sen. Heitmeier, District 8 Sen. Alario and PABI Governmental Affairs Chairman Dale Benoit.
The Plaquemines Association for Business and Industry (PABI) held its annual legislative review meeting at Bayou Barriere Golf Club on July 25, with state level legislators joining the assembly of PABI members for a synopsis of Plaquemines’ affairs over this and the next legislative session.
The top subject of discussion was the Census data-based redistricting.
With a number of Parishes failing to fall into acceptable population range, around 43,174 residents, the state set up new district lines. In the process, Plaquemines gained a senator through the process, bringing the total to three senators: A.G. Crowe of District 1, David Heitmeier of District 7 and John Alario of District 8, which now includes part of the Westbank.
All three were on hand to speak to the PABI members.
Sen. Crowe spoke first, touting the merits of the senate’s balanced budget in the face of this year’s deficit.
“We passed a balanced budget without raising taxes,” Crowe said.
Sen. Heitmeier continued to publicize the medical funding secured this session without any direct taxation on Louisiana residents.
“We were able to develop the largest public-private cooperative in the state’s history,” Heitmeier said. “Let’s not dismiss how many jobs we can create in the healthcare industry [with that].”
Alario, having only worked with Plaquemines indirectly, said he is looking forward to serving the new areas in the district.
“I’ve had the opportunity of serving in the House of Representatives for 36 years, and now the Senate,” Alario said. “You’ve had an outstanding delegation working on your behalf, making sure you are represented.”
Alario said he hopes to be a active member of that delegation.
Representative Ernest Wooton also was present for what would be his last legislative update. Wooton will not return for the next legislative session due to term limits.
“It’s going to be hard not being State Rep after being one for 13 years,” Wooton said.
“It’s been a hell of an experience,” Wooton continued. “I’ve done my damndest. I took what I do, what we all do in Baton Rouge, very seriously.”
Some achievements this session included the authorization of projects despite entering the session with $1.6 billion deficit. The debate during the session included potentially privatizing parts of the state government—such as prisons—or imposing further funding restrictions to grant programs, like those for students, both of which did not happen.
In education legislation, funding for Louisiana’s Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) saw a $15 million increase in funding, some coming from the 4-cent renewal in the cigarette tax. This increase brings the TOPS total to $154.4 million. However, this year also saw a 10-percent fee increase on tuition. For LSU in-state students, the increase brings tuition to $6,300 per semester. Meanwhile, tuition at community colleges was set to $2,400 for full-time students for the entire academic year.
In the K-12 schools, an effort to expand Charter schools gave corporate investors the incentive of gaining a minority percentage of seats on the charter school’s board.
An updated ban on the synthetic marijuana and bath salts was based, making the new chemicals schedule 1 drugs and preventing possession or use. A bill that would have required random drug tests amongst the cash assistance recipients failed to pass.