Capitol Access

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Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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Legislative approval is not required for LSU to lease its hospitals, that’s according to an opinion issued Thursday by State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. A law passed in 1997 gave governance of hospitals to LSU, and a 2003 amendment didn’t include leases on the list of things LSU has to go to the Capitol for – so Caldwell ruled leasing “intentionally omitted.”

The opinion hasn’t stopped the legislature from trying to intervene in privatization. The House moved a resolution to stop the process until the legislature has more information.

Lawmakers have put the final nail in the coffin to close LSU’s public hospital in North Baton Rouge. In Wednesday’s Joint Budget Committee, the Baton Rouge delegation pointed to gaps in care for pregnant women, prisoners and mental health services.

Sen. Sharon Broome said she was appalled that the decades-old initiative to revamp facilities at Earl K Long morphed into moving services.  “And we tried our best to get a new facility," Broome said. "Administrations change, goals change. I understand that. But I am very concerned when goals change and people are not considered.”

The legislature is already taking up Governor Bobby Jindal’s charge to move a bill to phase out the income tax, just a day after the governor ditched his own plan for repeal.

In his speech to lawmakers Monday, Jindal didn't mention maintaining his requirement that any new tax changes be revenue neutral.

The Legislature is already taking up Gov. Bobby Jindal’s charge to move a bill to phase out the income tax, just a day after the governor ditched his own plan for repeal. The House will consider sending fiscal-hawk Rep. Kirk Talbot’s six-year income tax phase-out to the House Ways and Means Committee when it convenes at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Governor Jindal’s opening address to the legislature didn’t mention healthcare, higher education, or the budget in general. Instead, he flabbergasted lawmakers and media with a thirteen-minute long speech ditching his plan to raise sales tax revenue to replace the income tax. But he didn’t abandon the initiative altogether.

“I know that several of you have already filed bills to phase-out the income tax," Jindal said. "What I’m here to tell you is this: even as we park our bill, I call on you. Let’s work together. Let’s pass a bill this session to get rid of the income tax once and for all in the state of Louisiana.”

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