LABI

A bill to prohibit payroll deductions for union dues prompted hours of impassioned testimony Thursday.

“Teachers, firemen, police — these are the people you trust every day to take care of everything in our communities. But you insult us by telling us we’re not smart enough to know if we want things taken out of our paycheck,” said an angry Melody Munch, president of the Jefferson Parish Federation of Teachers.

This was the fourth annual try for the so-called “Paycheck Protection Act”, pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity (AFP), and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

“It’s being advanced by the same folks everywhere, because it’s template legislation,” Louisiana Federation of Teachers president Steve Monaghan noted during his testimony against the bill.”

LABI president Stephen Waguespack said this is about drawing a bright line between political organizations and public employees.

Have you noticed you don’t see “inventory reduction” sales regularly, like you used to? That’s because of Louisiana’s business inventory tax credit, put in place in the 1990s.

“It certainly has been no reason for companies to deplete their inventories at the end of the year,” state Sen. Robert Adley observes.

Businesses still do count their inventory, and pay local taxes on their stock on hand. But when they file their corporate income tax returns with the state, Louisiana reimburses the companies for every penny they paid in inventory tax—even if the amount exceeds the other state taxes the business owes.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry will push lawmakers to lower the state’s uniquely high threshold for civil jury trials in the upcoming session. LABI president Stephen Waguespack says current law violates your constitutional right to trial by jury.

“You — as a citizen — can’t get a jury unless you’re sued above $50,000,” Waguespack explains. “If you’re sued for $35-, $40-, $45-thousand, then you better hope you’re going to get assigned to the right judge, because it’s the only choice you’re going to get here.”

“Who will starve, and who will get some breadcrumbs?”

That’s the question Southeastern Louisiana University professor Dayne Sherman — and many others — are asking, as Louisiana colleges and universities have been told to expect up to $400-million in cuts for the next fiscal year. That amounts to 40 percent of their current state funding.

The House Labor Committee heard and rejected several bills Thursday, aimed at setting a state minimum wage higher than the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

House Education Committee members worked into the night Wednesday, taking testimony on bills that would halt or slow implementation of Common Core state standards and the accompanying standardized tests.

Louisiana is one of 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, that signed onto Common Core. The state is also one of 17 in a consortium using the PARCC tests to evaluate student progress on the new standards.

Sue Lincoln

A bill that would change how civil lawsuits are handled in state courts is headed to the House floor. The tort reform bill removes the threshold for having a civil case heard by a jury, instead of only by a judge. Current state law allows a jury trial only if the amount involved exceeds $50,000.

flickr.com/idiolector/

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are voicing their skepticism of Governor Bobby Jindal’s tax overhauls. The forum this morning: an annual pre-session briefing hosted by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

Jim Patterson of LABI kicked off the presentation with what he’s heard from legislators about their private talks with Governor regarding his still unreleased tax overhauls. "[Gov. Jindal] does want to conform the local sales tax base to the state tax base," Patterson said. "This will help local governments to absorb what are going to be some relegation of services by the state to them.


Jim talks with San Francisco 49ers team archivist Jerry Walker about the Super Bowl.

A visit with Dennis Wholey, host of PBS's "This Is America"

Jim chats with former LABI and PAR head Ed Steimel about his life and times, at 91 years of age.