News > Press Releases
Jun 04, 2012
BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal highlighted successes from the 2012 Regular Legislative Session, including passing historic education and pension reform legislation.
Governor Jindal said, “This was an historic legislative session. We passed sweeping education reforms that are going to give more choices to families, help put a great teacher in every classroom and give school leaders more flexibility to do what’s best for their schools. We also passed the most important piece of our pension reform package through the cash-balance legislation that sets the stage for a more sustainable retirement system to protect taxpayers and provide new employees with a portable retirement account that will realize investment earnings. Finally, we also passed a bill to put a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot that, if passed, will give Louisiana the country’s strongest Second Amendment protections. Individually, the passage of these policies is significant, but combined they make for an historic legislative session that will have a generational impact on the people of Louisiana.”
The below legislation from the Governor’s package was approved by the Legislature during the 2012 Regular Legislative Session:
EDUCATION REFORM: More Choices For Families, Rewarding Good Teachers & Giving School Leaders More Flexibility
HB 974 by Representative Steve Carter empowers effective teachers, supports ineffective teachers who want to improve, and rethinks district management to prioritize kids not adults.
HB 976 by Representative Steve Carter expands choices and empowers parents in four key ways.
HB 969 by Representative Kirk Talbot creates a dollar for dollar rebate for individual or corporate donations made to designated nonprofit “school tuition organizations” that grant scholarships to low income students to attend nonpublic schools. A community member or local business could receive the value of their donation that was expended on a scholarship for a student whose parents make up to 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to attend private school. The school tuition organization, or STO, could grant scholarships up to a value of 80 percent of the state average portion of the Minimum Foundation Program for students in K-8 or up to 90 percent of the state average portion of the Minimum Foundation Program for 9-12; only 5 percent of any donation could be spent on administrative costs of the STO. STOs are new or existing nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status that have applied to the state for the specific authority of making scholarships for which the donor would be eligible for a rebate under this legislation.
SB 581 by Senator Conrad Appel creates a coordinated early childhood system framework focused on Kindergarten readiness. Louisiana has a number of full time and part time early childhood educational and health programs that receive a total of $1.4 billion in state and federal funds per year, plus an additional $150 million for Head Start. However, the current system is regulatory and focused on inputs, making it difficult for early childhood providers—public and private— to navigate, and there is no measure of academic quality that gives parents actionable information. Under this law, BESE would create a coordinated early childhood system by July 1, 2013 by doing four things:
PENSION REFORM: Keeping Our Promise To State Workers, Protecting Critical Services & Saving
HB 61 by Representative Kevin Pearson creates a cash-balance plan for new hires that combines the best features of defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Participants receive an investment account that can never lose value. In the good years, the participants share in investment gains. In the bad years, the participants never share in investment losses. Taxpayers bear less risk because the retirement benefit is tied to market performance, and the pension system retains 1 percent from investment gains to act as a buffer against investment losses. The cash-balance benefits are also portable; a participant who withdraws from state service after five years can take the entire account balance.
HB 1131 by Representative Kevin Pearson requires separate employer contribution rates for the different benefit plans within TRSL rather than a single blended rate. This will allow employers to pay the actual cost of retirement for their own employees. Furthermore, higher education employers will be able to realize the full savings impacts of any reforms, which will help send more dollars to the classroom.
SB 48 by Senator Elbert Guillory adds the Commissioner of Administration or designee to the boards of the state retirement systems. By adding the Commissioner or designee, the boards will gain a trustee who understands state budgeting and the overall fiscal picture faced by the state.
SECOND AMMENDMENT: Protecting Louisianians’ right to keep and bear arms
SB 303 by Senator Neil Riser puts a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot this fall for voters to approve that if passed will give Louisiana one of the country’s strongest Second Amendment protections. If passed by the voters, the Louisiana Constitution will read: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Increasing Louisiana’s Economic Competitiveness
HB 729 by Representative Joel Robideaux creates the Corporate Tax Apportionment Program. Previously, Louisiana only allowed manufacturers and merchandisers to qualify for single-sales factor apportionment, which bases corporate income and franchise taxes solely on the portion of sales that occur within the state. However, states across the country are increasingly offering that opportunity to other companies. This new law will extend the single-sales factor apportionment to highly competitive business development projects in other target sectors including corporate headquarters, logistics/warehousing, data centers, clean technology, destination healthcare, R&D operations, renewable energy, and digital media and software development. This option will only be offered for projects that yield a positive return on investment for the state.
HB 674 and HB 694 by Representative Joel Robideaux create a Property Tax Exemption for Non-Manufacturing Firms. Prior to Governor Jindal signing this new law, Louisiana offered a ten-year property tax exemption exclusively to manufacturers that were expanding or constructing new facilities in the state. This new program will enable Louisiana Economic Development to extend the same benefit to highly competitive projects in other target sectors including corporate headquarters, logistics/warehousing, data centers, R&D operations, and digital media and software development. The new incentive will only be offered in parishes where the parish governing authority, municipalities, school board or boards, parish law enforcement, and assessor opt in to the program. The project’s first 10 percent or $10 million of fair market value, whichever is higher, will still be assessed for ad valorem taxation.
HB 958 by Representative Joel Robideaux creates a Payroll Incentive for Competitive Projects. Louisiana’s current Quality Jobs incentive program provides up to a 6 percent payroll rebate to eligible companies that meet statutory eligibility requirements by creating high-quality jobs in Louisiana. This new law for highly competitive projects only enables Louisiana Economic Development to offer a new incentive up to 15 percent of payroll to secure new jobs in target sectors. This option will only be offered for projects that yield a positive return on investment for the state and the level of the rebate will be determined by this return.
HB 937 by Representative Joel Robideaux creates the Corporate Headquarters Relocation Program. This new law will enable Louisiana Economic Development to offer a 25 percent rebate, spread over five years, on relocation expenses for headquarters that create at least 25 high-paying jobs. The program will significantly enhance Louisiana’s efforts to attract some of the most competitive and most attractive of all projects in the site-selection world: corporate headquarters. This is because the primary location of a company comes with significant economic output, well-compensated professional workforce and prestige. This option will only be offered for projects that yield a positive return on investment for the state.
HB 1072 by Representative Cameron Henry provides for the extension of the Quality Jobs payroll rebate for the NBA Hornets for an additional ten years. The Quality Jobs rebate is a critical part of the state’s agreement to keep the Hornets in New Orleans for the long term.
TRANSPORTATION: Investing In Louisiana’s Roads
HB 783 by Representative Jim Fannin authorizes bonding half of the State Highway Improvement Fund. This new law will generate $325 million to repair nearly 1,000 miles of primarily rural roads across Louisiana that are not eligible for federal funding. Many of these roads a severely worn or unsafe to drivers because of rapid economic growth, including the Haynesville Shale boom in Northwest Louisiana and the agriculture industry, as well as wear related to natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding.
VETERANS: Supporting Louisiana’s Veterans & Military Families
HB 945 by Representative Henry Burns extends TOPS eligibility for students that reenlist and maintain continuous active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces prior to the five-year anniversary of their high school graduation. These students will remain TOPS eligible for the duration of their service and up to one year following the student’s separation from active service. Prior to this law, students who chose to continue to serve their country and voluntarily re-enlist were unfairly penalized and lost their TOPS eligibility.
HB 499 by Representative Henry Burns and SB 157 by Senator Robert Adley allow Louisiana veterans to have a “veteran” designation on their driver’s license or state issued ID card. Prior to Governor Jindal signing this legislation, Veterans in Louisiana had no picture ID available for proof of their veteran status, except for a TRICARE veterans’ insurance card available mostly to retired veterans. With this new law, Louisiana joins states like Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ohio with laws permitting veterans a designation on their driver’s licenses for proof of their military service. This new designation will also help the state improve outreach to veterans to update them regarding services and benefits that may be available, and will help veterans access discounts and other services available to them.
HB 590 by Representative Karen St. Germain extends the exemption veterans currently have for the payment of fees to obtain a driver’s license to now also include special identification cards.
HB 732 by Representative Henry Burns establish procedures for military families to give credit for and speed up the transfer of specialized training received in the military, or non-military licenses issued to military spouses in other states, when issuing equivalent non-military licenses and certifications in Louisiana. This will streamline the transfer of professional licenses and certifications from other states when active servicemen and their families are relocated by the military to Louisiana. To ensure no delay after relocation, the bill also provides for temporary licenses for active servicemen and their families under which they may practice until a full license is obtained.
HB 435 by Representative Nick Lorusso expands eligibility for in-state tuition for members of the military that move from another state to Louisiana to attend college. This new law grants in-state tuition to honorably discharged veterans, members of the National Guard, reserve enlistees previously called into service, or former cadets or midshipmen at one of the United States Armed Forces service academies. An economic development tool, this incentive will help draw an already trained workforce to Louisiana to help attract businesses and grow the Louisiana economy.
HB 977 by Representative Henry Burns expands eligibility to the Military Family Assistance Fund established in 2005 to help members of the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana Military Reserves, and their family members address financial hardships they may encounter as a result of their active-duty status. Since 2008, when Governor Jindal redirected the Fund to the Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA), LDVA has awarded more than $400,000 in financial assistance to about 2,750 Louisiana National Guardsman and Reservists. The current minimum qualifications for the Military Family Assistance Fund are financial hardships directly caused by active duty status. For example, a Guardsman may earn more in his civilian job than he earns when he is called up for active duty, which causes a direct financial hardship. This new law expands eligibility to include additional indirect causes for hardship. For example, a Military Reservist away from home on active-duty may be unable to perform emergency or unexpected maintenance to his home; under this legislation, home maintenance repairs and subsequent financial hardship that was indirectly caused by military activation would be eligible for reimbursement from the Fund.
CRIME: Cracking Down On Gangs, Sex Offenders, Human Trafficking & DWIs
HB 790 by Representative Joseph Lopinto increases the penalties for certain crimes committed by criminal street gangs. Under current law, if a person directs or assists a gang in certain enumerated criminal offenses, then he will be imprisoned for at least one year and up to one-half the maximum term of imprisonment for that criminal offense. This sentence is in addition and consecutive to any sentence imposed for that criminal offense, which ensures that violent gang members receive extra jail time. However, current law does not cover some crimes that law enforcement agencies are currently confronting, including assault by drive-by shooting, inciting or participating in a riot, aggravated criminal damage to property, simple burglary and looting. This new law adds these crimes to the current list to strengthen law enforcement agencies’ ability to combat street gangs.
HB 577 by Representative Joseph Lopinto and SB 4 by Senator J. P. Morrell require eyewitnesses of sexual abuse to report the abuse to authorities and toughen penalties for other mandatory reporters of abuse who fail to report. Specifically, this new law does three things.
HB 558 by Representative Joseph Lopinto discourages out-of-state sex offenders from moving to Louisiana by requiring them to register for the time period provided by their state of conviction or as provided by Louisiana law, whichever period is longer.
HB 70 by Representative Karen St. Germain creates the crime of unlawful presence or contact of a sex offender with a former victim. This new crime makes it illegal for sex offenders to establish a residence or reside within three miles of their victim or knowingly go within 300 feet of their victim or communicate with their victim, or the immediate family members of their victim, unless the victim consents to the communication. The penalty for illegally residing within three miles of the victim or knowingly going within 300 feet of the victim is up to one year in jail. The penalty for illegally communicating with the victim is up to six months in jail.
HB 594 by Representative Joseph Lopinto and SB 481 by Jonathan Perry enhance protections for child pornography victims. This legislation will require that any material that constitutes child pornography will remain in the custody and control of the state. Any motion by the defendant to copy, photograph, duplicate or otherwise reproduce the pornographic material will be denied by the court. Hundreds of federal child pornography cases have been handled in this manner and state controls need to be changed in order to ensure children are protected.
HB 556 by Representative Joseph Lopinto and SB 377 by Senator Gary Smith force sex offenders to immediately update changes to their online identifier information. Currently, sex offenders are required to register and provide certain information to law enforcement agencies, including their address, vehicle license plates and on-line identifiers. Depending on the crime committed, offenders are supposed to periodically renew and update their information submitted to law enforcement. However, because on-line identifiers can change rapidly, this law will now require sex offenders to immediately notify and update such on-line information and penalize the offender if he does not.
HB 620 by Representative Ledricka Thierry strengthens a law to prohibit convicted sex offenders from using social networking websites. The new law prohibits certain registered sex offenders from intentionally using a social networking website, and defines social networking website as a website that has the primary purpose of facilitating social interactions with other users of the website. The law also adds a provision explicitly stating what sites are not social networking sites.
HB 49 by Representative Neil Abramson cracks down on human trafficking by allowing for a life sentences for traffickers if the offender has a prior sex offense conviction, increasing the penalties for commercial sexual exploitation of children crimes, and makes those crimes registerable offenses. This new law also enhances protections for victims of human trafficking by ensuring that the protected age for prostitution crimes is equal to the trafficking of children for sexual purposes crime, enables the electronic surveillance of traffickers, and extends the statute of limitations for the protection of people who have trafficked or sexually exploited children, prohibits inappropriate defense motions in these crimes, and enhances child protection services and victim rights.
SB 753 by Senator Dale Erdey restricts certain sex offenders’ access to public libraries. Prior to Governor Jindal signing this new law, convicted sex offenders who committed a sex offense against a victim under the age of 13, were prohibited from residing or physically being on or loitering within 1,000 feet of school property or a park. This legislation makes the current crime of unlawful presence of a sex offender also applicable to public libraries. “Public library” will include the State Library of Louisiana, any parish or municipal library and any college or university or school library.
Note: The following DWI bills were approved by the DWI-Vehicular Homicide Task Force
HB 781 by Representative Steven Pylant gives law enforcement officers the ability to use multiple tests to assess a driver’s impairment. Breathalyzer tests cannot detect the presence of drugs in an offender’s system, and after a breathalyzer test is given, the law is not clear whether a refusal for a subsequent test qualifies for suspending an impaired individual’s driver’s license. This new law will allow an officer to employ additional tests to assess the extent of drug or alcohol impairment, and the refusal of any tests would give rise to suspension of their driver’s license.
SB 306 by Senator Bodi White extends the ten-year period that permits enhanced penalties for repeat DWI offenders. Prior to Governor Jindal signing this law, offenders on parole benefitted from their parole periods being included in the ten-year period, protecting them from tougher penalties down the road. This new law will exclude the time an offender serves on parole from the ten-year period, extending the time that prevents them from benefiting from lesser penalties for reoffending.
SB 485 by Senator Jonathan Perry makes a detectable amount of illicit drugs in a person’s blood system a contributing factor to vehicular homicide. Many impaired drivers on Louisiana’s roads drive under the influence of illegal drugs. This new law will assist prosecutors go after offenders who have committed vehicular homicide and have illegal or unprescribed drugs in their blood system.
SB 486 Senator Jonathan Perry addresses penalties for persons with three DWI offenses enrolled in DWI or drug courts and restricts reinstatement of driving privileges for multiple offenders arrested for a DWI.
SB 488 by Senator Jonathan Perry addresses penalties for persons with second DWI offenses. Prior to Governor Jindal signing this new law, individuals convicted of a second offense DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of .2 percent or more were not mandated to serve out the 45 day waiting period for receiving a restricted hardship license, even though it is mandated for those convicted of other types of second offense DWIs. This new law will require this type of second DWI offender to serve out the 45 days waiting period before applying for a restricted hardship license.
LIFE: Protecting The Sanctity Of Human Life
SB 330 by Senator Rick Ward creates a specific crime for performing an abortion in Louisiana if the abortionist is not licensed to practice medicine in Louisiana. It also creates the crime of aggravated criminal abortion by dismemberment when the unborn child is dismembered in the course of a criminal abortion.
SB 766 by Senator John Alario prohibits abortions of an unborn child who is 20 weeks or older, and provides for license revocation and disciplinary action for any person who intentionally or knowingly performs or induces an abortion on a woman when they have a baby who is 20 weeks or older.
HB 1086 by Representative Alan Seabaugh prohibits euthanasia for the non-terminally ill and the severely disabled. Prior to Governor Jindal signing this new law those same protections were only offered for the terminally ill.
SB 708 by Senator Sharon Weston Broome requires that the fetal heartbeat be made audible and ultrasound images be displayed for review by pregnant woman prior to an abortion.
SENTENCING REFORM: Creating A More Effective And Efficient Criminal Justice System
Note: The following bills have also been approved by the Sentencing Commission
HB 518 by Representative Joseph Lopinto merges the pardon and parole board and their duties. Because both boards are essentially performing the same duties – granting clemency to offenders—t here is no need to have two boards performing the same services that could be performed by a single entity. This new law eliminates duplicative TOs and salaries to create savings, which will allow the Department of Corrections to continue to pursue its re-entry programming and its work of reintegrating nonviolent offenders back into society.
HB 1068 by Representative Joseph Lopinto increases prosecutorial discretion so that district attorneys can tailor appropriate punishments as necessitated by the circumstances of the crime for non-violent, non-sex offense offenders. Currently, the criminal code contains many mandatory minimum sentences as well as mandatory minimum fines. These sentences and fines are necessary to ensure that justice is carried out and criminals are punished to the fullest extent of the law, but they sometimes restrict prosecutors’ ability to properly decide how best to treat non-violent offenders. This new law allows district attorneys to enter into plea agreements with defendants to specify that the defendant’s sentence can be served with the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence or have a reduced fine or term of confinement.
HB 432 by Representative Joseph Lopinto repeals the costly and under-utilized risk review panels, an extra layer of bureaucracy in the clemency process. When a panel determines an offender is not a risk to society, they make a recommendation that the person be considered for parole or pardon. Their recommendation is not binding and not always concurred in by either the parole or pardon board. However, Louisiana’s current risk-needs assessment tool and other efforts employed by the Department of Corrections to evaluate offenders prior to their pardon or parole hearing already provide the members of those boards with information to determine whether an offender should be paroled or pardoned making the panels duplicative. Between 2001 and 2009 the risk review panels cost the department over $110,000 per year. By reducing this administrative burden, the department’s resources can be concentrated on other more productive programs.
HB 521 by Representative Helena Moreno will expand the re-entry courts initiative into the 19th and 22nd judicial districts. Around 13,000 incarcerated offenders return to Louisiana communities each year, which highlights the need for effective re-entry programming. Re-entry courts are such an initiative that will enable non-violent, non-sex offense offenders to participate in rehabilitation and workforce development programs. Upon successful completion of the program, the offender is placed on intensive re-entry supervision by the court, which also assists offenders in finding employment. Expanding re-entry courts will reduce recidivism rates and allow Louisiana to prioritize critical resources on keeping high-risk offenders off the streets.
HB 994 by Representative Joseph Lopinto simplifies the calculation of diminution of sentence, or “good time,” that non-violent, non-sex offense offenders can earn while they are in jail. Revising the calculation will allow all parties to know exactly when an offender could be released from jail. This law revises the calculation so that good time is earned at the rate of 1.5 days for every 1 day in jail. In 2010, prisoners convicted of non-violent offenses made up over 45 percent of the state’s prison population. Over 70 percent of the prison admissions in calendar year 2009 were for drug or property offenses. This large number of non-violent offenders has resulted in a state prison system with a high percentage of potentially low-risk, non-violent, non-sex offense offenders who are now taking up bed space and consuming resources that should be used to target violent, high-risk criminals and fund other top priorities such as re-entry facilities and probation and parole supervision. This law will create savings that will allow the state to reinvest in top priorities such as re-entry programming and other programs aimed at reducing the recidivism rate – which is the end goal of Louisiana’s corrections system.
HB 1026 by Representative Joseph Lopinto allows second time non-violent, non-sex offense, non-habitual offenders who have proven to be model prisoners to become parole eligible after serving 33 percent, rather than 50 percent, of their sentences. This bill only grants the offender a hearing before the Parole Board, and does not guarantee they will be released from prison. Louisiana is unique in that it admits a larger proportion of drug and non-violent criminals to prison than the national average and the state sentences non-violent offenders to longer sentences than the rest of the country. These statistics demonstrate how the state’s prison system has a disproportionately high percentage of low-risk, non-violent, non-sex offense offenders consuming resources that should be more effectively used to target high-risk criminals and fund rehabilitation priorities such as re-entry facilities and probation and parole supervision.
HB 512 by Representative Helena Moreno ensures the effective use of the administrative sanctions that were enacted last year and enable probation and parole officers to quickly punish offenders under their supervision for violations of the conditions of their supervision. Specifically, this bill provides that the form used to record the offender's admission to the violation and the administrative sanction proceeding will be considered hearsay in any future proceeding. By allowing the offender to admit to the violation and consent to the imposed sanction, probation and parole officers are able to more quickly and efficiently administer sanctions without having to take the offender back before the courts or Parole Board.
ETHICS: Enhancing Enforcement
HB 942 by Representative Tim Burns gives the Ethics Board a limited right to appeal decisions of the Ethics Adjudicatory Board in order to provide an additional review of the merits of a case to ensure charges are properly evaluated.
HB 950 by Representative Tim Burns clarifies provisions in the Code of Governmental Ethics in three ways:
HB 955 by Representative Tim Burns clarifies which alleged campaign finance violations are adjudicated by the Ethics Adjudicatory Board. It improves prior law to ensure failure to file and failure to timely file violations of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act can be adjudicated by the Ethics Adjudicatory Board and enforced by the Board of Ethics. This clarification will provide better enforcement of these provisions by establishing clear authority on the prosecution and enforcement of violations of those laws.
STREAMLINING: Making Government more Efficient
HB 314 by Representative Johnny Berthelot eliminates eleven state boards and commissions that are inactive, can be absorbed by other existing boards, or agencies or have fulfilled their original mission.