WRKF News

Representative Jim Fannin of Jonesboro completed his final session as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee just over a week ago. Now that some of the dust has settled, I asked the term-limited Republican, a former teacher, to grade the session. He gives the Legislature a C+, saying there were some hits—and some misses.

“Higher education was a hit, in that we were able to fund at the level that we did,” Fannin observed. “And, I mean, our health care was funded -- those things that we had priorities for.”

Critics have said lawmakers didn’t really fix the structural problems of state outgo exceeding state income. But Fannin says they laid some foundations.

With all the uncertainty over the budget at session’s end, I wasn’t able to share with you one of the legislature’s charming traditions—the end-of-term farewells.

“Farewell speeches, you know they’re not really farewell. Y’all get that, right?” Rep. Karen St. Germain asked during her speech.

For the 21 term-limited lawmakers leaving the Legislature, it was a chance to say public thank-yous, shed a few tears, and reminisce on their time at the Capitol.

Women in Louisiana could soon be guaranteed full reports on their mammograms, thanks to a bill that passed the legislature last week.  The story Monica Helo told lawmakers helped make that happen.  

Is Republican House Speaker Chuck Kleckley calling for Medicaid expansion? No, that can’t be right. 

In the 2010 legislative session, Gov. Jindal signed into law a largely symbolic bill declaring all Louisianians free from quote “governmental intrusion in choosing or declining to choose any mode of securing health insurance coverage.” That was shortly after the federal Affordable Care Act passed, and 31 Republican lawmakers, including Kleckley, co-authored the measure.

Fast forward to today. Kleckey pushed the resolution allowing Louisiana’s next governor to pay for Medicaid expansion. Both houses approved, and the governor has no say.

Study Finds Having Been Through Disaster Not All Bad

Jun 15, 2015

In 2005, Dr. Katie Cherry, Director of LSU’s Life Course and Aging Center, was studying the healthy aging of 90-year-olds in Baton Rouge. And then Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck.  


 The final half-hour of the 2015 legislative session seemed more like an auction than lawmaking, as the House approved dozens of bills in the last 30 minutes. When the gavel came down at 6 p.m. Thursday, nobody was quite sure what-all we had bought — not even Gov. Jindal.

“The process isn’t over,” Jindal told reporters during a post-session press conference. “Obviously, we do want to look carefully through every bill for any unintended consequences.”

Now that we’ve had a few days to examine our “purchases”, here’s what we ended up with:

First, a $24-billion budget.

“We stand here and declare the 2015 regular session adjourned sine die.”

With that, the 2015 legislative session came to a close. The uncertainty and drama continued right up to the 6 p.m. deadline, but the legislature did pass a budget supported by tax increases. They also passed the SAVE plan offset, after all.

Earlier in the day, it appeared dead.

“This is one of the two bills that we did get the SAVE language stripped off of it, and I appreciate your favorable vote,” House Ways and Means chairman Joel Robideaux announced before lunchtime.

Sue Lincoln
Kelly Tate

The state legislature is adjourned.

WRKF's Sue Lincoln explains that lawmakers passed a veto-proof budget in the final hours of the session and headed home.


No Budget, No Peace

Jun 11, 2015

As the final day of the session begins, there is no budget agreement.

“Members, I would move that we reject the Senate amendments and send House Bill One to conference,” House Appropriations chair Jim Fannin urged yesterday, adding, “We’ve got some work we need to do on it.”

With 93 yeas and zero nays, the House did just that. Now three representatives and three senators will endeavor to privately resolve what 144 lawmakers have been publicly arguing over for the past two months. Yet what if they can’t fix the $1.6-billion deficit before today’s clock runs out?

“At 6 p.m. on the 11th, it’s over,” Senate Secretary Glenn Koepp says. “Everything ends, and we’ve either done it, or we haven’t done it.”

The House spent much of Tuesday giving the Senate the finger.

“Which finger?” Speaker Chuck Kleckley joked at one point.

Although House members did concur with Senate amendments on some bills, when it came to the revenue raising measures — seven bills in the so-called “tax package” — the House rejected what the Senate had done.

Some rejections, like the cigarette tax increase, were tough. The author of that bill, Rep. Hal Ritchie, made a plea for the members to agree with raising the cigarette tax to $1.08 per pack, instead of the $0.68 per pack the House had okayed.

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