Plaquemines delegation recaps 2013 session to PABI membershipJul 29th, 2013 | By Candace Griffin | Category: news
State Senators John Alario of District 8, David Heitmeier of District 7, and A.G. Crowe of District 1, as well as State Representative Chris Leopold of District 105 presented the results of their last legislative session at a Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry (PABI) meeting last week.
“The legislature really rose to the occasion this year,” said Alario. “We’ve made a lot of progress.”
Alario pointed out that the legislature was able to reduce the amount of one-time monies funding the budget. They believe that the budget should be maintained by reoccurring funds, such as taxes.
They presented the following:
A couple of senators mentioned healthcare as one of the state’s main issues.
• Senator Crowe said that the state has a $25.4 billion total budget and that healthcare accounts for more than one-third of that, or nearly $9 billion.
• Senator Heitmeier said that “the state will not be accepting an expansion of Medicaid.” The state will only be covering Medicaid up to a 12.5 percent poverty rate, “which means we will not be expanding to the 100 percent coverage rate like other areas,” said Heitmeier.
“The state will not be paying for the gap between 12 percent and 99 percent; that will be covered by federal dollars.” He also said that West and East Jefferson Hospitals, which are privately owned, are set to be leased to private hospitals to be managed. Ochsner, HCA and Children’s Hospital are all vying to lease these buildings, and the provision allowing this man-agement required approval by legislature and the Jefferson Parish Council.
Senator Alario announced that school teachers will be getting a $50 million boost in pay, which is approximately $1,000 per teacher. This may not seem
like much, but the school teachers have not gotten a raise in quite some time,
Peters Road Project
Phase one and phase two of the Peters Road bypass project have been fully funded and phase three, which comes at the cost of $60 million, has received approval from the governor for $30 million, said Senator Heitmeier. The project should be completed by 2016.
• The legislature approved a bill by State Representative Leopold that raised the speed limit in Port Sulphur from 35 to 45 mph.
Leopold was also proud to announce that the much needed road raising along the highway has commenced. Every year Highway 23 floods during heavy rain, and the raising of it is a joint effort between the parish and state to resolve this problem. The road will be raised by up to two feet in some areas, and the project is supposed to be completed by winter 2014.
• Senator Heitmeier announced that the Department of Transportation and Development has appropriated $4 million to conduct an environmental study regarding the replacement of the draw bridge in Belle Chasse. The current bridge/tunnel system is out of date. Four alternative bridges, ranging from a 60 ft. lift bridge to 100 ft. fixed bridge are being considered; these range in cost from $120 million to $190 million. Discussions are taking place to find the alternative that will be most cost effective, and least disruptive to adjacent property owners. Senator Heitmeier is advocating
a 73-foot fixed bridge option that would come at lower cost than the other options. He said he is working to assure that the decision will have the least disruptive impact on businesses along the corridor.
• State Representative Leopold announced that the state is actively working with lobbyists in Washington to change the Biggert-Waters Act, which if left alone would raise flood insurance premiums to an all time high.
• Jody Guilbeau, Chairman Elect for PABI, announced that the legislature asked for a bill to be passed that would stifle the Biggert-Waters Act and provide a one year hiatus on flood insurance for homes.
Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal (LIGTT)
Senator Crowe has continued to seek funding for LIGTT, which would place
a transshipment hub at the mouth of the river. This would allow ships carrying cargo containers to unload at the southernmost tip of Westbank Plaquemines, instead of having to travel up river. It could also serve as a hub of commerce for ports along the gulf coast.