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HOT TOPICS

2016 Legislative Sessions


Prepared by House Legislative Services Staff
Louisiana House of Representatives

Extraordinary Special Session


Anticipated to be called
by the governor for mid-February

Budget Shortfall

The focus of the Appropriations Committee during 2016 will be addressing


anticipated budget shortfalls in the current fiscal year and the next fiscal
year with expenditure reductions, revenue increases, or a combination of
the two.
According to the Edwards administration, a shortfall of $700-$750 million
is estimated for Fiscal Year 2015-2016. This shortfall will have to be
solved before July 1, 2016.
Budget shortfalls for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 are even greater and
estimated to be about $1.9 billion. This shortfall is over half of the $2.9
billion in discretionary state general fund expenditures in state
government.
The governor has indicated he will call a special session to address
budget shortfalls for the current and next fiscal year on February 14.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016 Special Session

Dedication of Revenue
A discussion related to the state budget that may come up in 2016 is the repurposing
of revenue dedications to provide more flexibility in determining funding priorities in the
state budget. There are approximately $4 billion in dedications appropriated in the
state budget in the current Fiscal Year 2015-2016 through approximately 300 funds.
Of the total, $2.2 billion is dedicated in the constitution and the remaining $1.8 billion is
dedicated in the statutes.

Minimum Foundation Program (MFP)


During the 2015 Regular Session, the legislature appropriated approximately $3.7
billion for the MFP that funds public K-12 education. The appropriation provided
additional funding outside the formula, including $36.2 million, which is equivalent to a
1.375% increase in the base per pupil cost to sustain certificated teacher pay raises
and $8 million in expanded educational initiatives. Sustaining this funding will be
particularly challenging as legislators work to pass a budget that addresses a shortfall
projected for the upcoming fiscal year.

Transportation Backlog
Louisiana faces over a $12 billion backlog of state highway system needs. This
transportation system is largely funded by federal funds and a 20-cents-per-gallon
state tax on gasoline. The 20 cents is comprised of a 16-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax
and an additional 4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax. One concern is that the state's 16cent gas tax is a flat, non-indexed tax that has consistently lost buying power from
when the tax increased to its current amount in 1984. Due to inflation and rising
construction costs, the state's 16-cent gas tax has a current-day buying power of
approximately 7 cents.
Possible Legislative Issues in 2016 Special Session

Measures that provide immediate revenue to the


state include possible increases in the state sales
and use tax rates, changes to state sales and use
tax exemptions and exclusions, as well as
changes regarding income tax credits, deductions,
and exemptions. Other immediate revenue-raising
measures include changes to existing severance
tax exemptions, increases in the state excise taxes
on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, and
reductions to certain discounts.

With major budgetary shortfalls,


various tax bills will likely be
referred to the Ways and Means
Committee during a special
session.

Possible long-term policy changes to stabilize


revenue include making modifications and
adjustments to both individual and corporate
income taxes including rates and brackets, scaling
back or eliminating tax expenditures, and
implementing corporate add backs and combined
reporting.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016 Special Session

Regular Session
To begin on Monday, March 14, 2016

Food Deserts
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Louisiana has numerous food deserts within
the state, some within urban areas, but the vast majority of the food deserts are in the rural
areas of the state. Legislative action in 2015 created a task force to study the issue with
possible legislation as a result.

Marijuana
The recreational usage of marijuana is prohibited in Louisiana. Proponents emphasize that
allowing recreational marijuana to be sold in the state would bring in valuable tax revenue.
This issue has been raised repeatedly during past sessions and may be raised again.
Medical marijuana was recently authorized by the legislature and the State Board of Medical
Examiners was charged with recommending health conditions (in addition to glaucoma,
spastic quadriplegia, and chemotherapy) for which medical marijuana use would be
appropriate.

Wildfire Funding
Louisiana has been afflicted by numerous wildfires over the years and has done a good job
containing them with the limited funds, equipment, and manpower available. In the 2016
Regular Session, the Department of Agriculture may ask the legislature to request more
funding from Congress to address their shortfall in combating wildfires within Louisiana.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Civil Procedure
Limitations on the availability of jury trials is of interest each legislative
session. Numerous bills were introduced over the past several sessions
attempting to raise or lower the required dollar amount in controversy in
order to be entitled to a jury trial.

Religious Freedom
Legislation intended to protect religious freedom has been introduced in
several states during recent legislative sessions and generated
significant public interest in Louisiana. Religious freedom remains a
subject matter of interest for the 2016 legislative session.

Child Support
Bills modifying child support laws are regularly introduced in legislative
sessions. Recently, these have included extending the age of children
entitled to child support when specific conditions are satisfied, as well as
mechanisms to enforce child support for failure to pay.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Crowdfunding
As crowdfunding becomes an increasingly popular mechanism for
raising vast amounts of capital, state legislatures have become
aware of their needs not only to encourage small business owners
and entrepreneurs to avail themselves of this growing resource but
also to regulate how crowdfunding is monitored within their state's
borders. 27 states introduced legislation regarding crowdfunding in
2015.

Internet Gambling
Many states have recently proposed legislation aimed at legalizing
online gambling.
Alternatively, some states have proposed
legislation meant either to prohibit online gambling or to commission
studies for the purpose of analyzing the impact that the industry
could have on states and their residents.

Plumbing
The Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council has
promulgated a rule adoption of plumbing provisions in the
International Plumbing Code, International Building Code, and the
International Residential Code. The rule adoption is a result of Act
836 of the 2014 Regular Session. The newly promulgated rule
replaces the Louisiana State Plumbing Code which was repealed in
its entirety as of January 1, 2016.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Gun Laws - With continued mass shootings across the country and recent executive
orders addressing the purchasing of firearms, it is likely that there will be legislative
activity regarding firearms. Two bills have already been prefiled for the 2016 Regular
Session addressing concealed handgun provisions of Louisiana law.

Drones With the popularity of unmanned aircraft systems soaring, the FAA has
developed rules including minimum age and registration requirements.
As an
aircraft, drones are likely not covered under ones homeowners insurance
policyholders unless a policy rider is added to provide such coverage. Likewise, it is
likely that drone legislation will be a hot topic in 2016 for both the Criminal Justice and
the Insurance Committees of the legislature.

Juvenile Court Jurisdiction - While most states set the maximum age of juvenile
court jurisdiction at 17, Louisiana is one of seven states with the maximum age of
juvenile court jurisdiction at 16. Proponents of the "raise-the-age" legislation argue
that young people should be tried in juvenile court to ensure that they are not
sentenced to adult prisons and have access to more age-appropriate services and
placement options.

Corrections and Sentencing Reform - Louisiana is part of a national trend with


the likely creation of a task force this session to launch an intensive, data-driven
review of state sentencing and corrections issues with the goal of presenting the
legislature with a comprehensive reform package for the 2017 legislative session.
Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Elementary and Secondary Education


Gov. Edwards elementary and secondary
education transition team explored several
education issues. According to news reports
detailing the team's work, these issues include
accountability, assessments, state funding for
pre-K programs, school choice, local control, the
MFP, and state content standards. Discussions
regarding these matters will continue as the new
term begins, and legislation pertaining to them is
likely to be introduced this year.

Postsecondary Education
Likewise,
Gov.
Edwards
postsecondary
education transition team was charged with
making "college more affordable for students and
stronger". In light of the current budget shortfall,
it is likely that their recommendations will be
related to funding, tuition, and TOPS, including
legislation to address lingering concerns about
maintaining the TOPS program despite ongoing
fiscal challenges and rising college tuition costs.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Medicaid Expansion

Access to Mental Health Services

Prior to the start of 2016, 30 states, excluding


Louisiana, accepted federal funding to expand
Medicaid to cover individuals and families with
incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level
($33,465 in annual household income for a
family of four per 2015 poverty guidelines).
Through executive action, the governor is
implementing Medicaid expansion. Legislation
is expected on this issue.

In recent years, the availability of mental health


services has declined due to cuts in government
spending on these services, with the cuts being
both a cause and effect of an ongoing shift
away from provision of mental health treatment
in institutional settings. As a result, a growing
number of persons in need of mental health
treatment are being held in jails - a situation
which advocates have deemed to be a crisis.

Full Transition to Managed Care

Telemedicine and Telehealth services

Five years ago, Louisiana's Medicaid program


began a major shift away from a fee-for-service
payment model toward an insurance-based
managed care model in which DHH contracts
with private insurance companies which
coordinate care for certain Medicaid enrollees
and pay provider claims. However, this model
does not include nursing home or other longterm supports and services which inclusion will
likely be an issue in 2016.

Legislation in 2014 modernized state laws


relative to the practice of telemedicine and
telehealth services.
Beyond monitoring
changes in health care delivery as a result of
this modernization, other issues may include
technical standards for delivery systems,
addressing barriers to telehealth expansion, and
insurance coverage.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Automobile Insurance Rates


Louisiana is among the top five states with the highest automobile insurance rates.
This is generally attributable to a number of suggested factors, including the large
number of uninsured motorists on Louisiana roads, the condition of the roads, and
factors related to personal injury lawsuits brought as a result of accidents. Likewise,
legislation in this area is possible.

Driverless Vehicles
Several companies are field testing driverless vehicles in California, and these
vehicles may be in use in Louisiana within the next several years. The legislature
could be faced with addressing a number of issues as a result of these vehicles such
as who is responsible for payment of damages if the driverless vehicle is involved in
an accident and whether automobile insurers will provide coverage for such
vehicles.

Health Insurance Agent Commission


Health insurers believe they are losing money on individual policies issued pursuant
to the Affordable Care Act and are therefore attempting to cut costs wherever
possible including lowering agent commissions. The Center for Medicare and
Medicaid is also attempting to lower or end agent commissions. While the states
have no regulatory authority over the Exchanges, the states may take action to
ensure the rights of individual agents to their commissions on policies sold outside of
the Exchange.
Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Law Enforcement Authority


In 2015, many state legislatures considered legislation that would require specific
procedures for investigating police-involved deaths, addressing the appointment of
special prosecutors, and improving public dissemination of information explaining
prosecutorial decisions. Such legislation may be filed in Louisiana in 2016.
Also in 2015, a majority of states considered legislation to address body-worn cameras
for law enforcement. Louisiana created a task force and charged it with making
recommendations, in advance of the 2016 session, regarding the use of body cameras
by police.
Immigration
During the 2015 Regular Session, the legislature created an Immigration Task Force
charged with studying and reporting to the legislature the fiscal and economic impact
of illegal immigration in the state. The task force report is due prior to the 2016
Regular Session.
The U.S. accepts up to 70,000 refugees per year from five different regions of the
world. Refugees are vetted overseas and background checks are conducted through
several federal agencies. 49 states participate in the refugee resettlement program to
assist those fleeing persecution to become self-sufficient and integrated into their
adopted communities. While Louisiana is one such state, it does not provide services
directly; rather it is one of 12 states wherein the program is handled by nonprofit
organizations which receive federal funding for this purpose. The legislature continues
to monitor this issue.
Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Minimum Wage

Pay Equality

Payroll Deductions

Alongside a federal movement


for an increase of minimum
wage, more than half of the
states have raised minimum
wage within the past two years.
The governor has expressed
his intention to pursue minimum
wage legislation if Congress
does not raise the federal
minimum wage.

Equal Pay for Women has been


an on-going topic in Louisiana
for several years. In 2013, the
Equal Pay for Women Act was
passed in this state requiring
pay
equality
for
women
employed by the state.
An
expansion of that Act was filed
in the last two years and is likely
to be filed again in the 2016
Session.

In recent sessions, legislation


has been introduced to remove
union dues as an authorized
payroll deduction for public
employees.
Opponents and
proponents
have
strong
arguments on the robust issue
and because there is interest in
the outcome, authorized payroll
deductions for union dues may
be discussed again in the
upcoming session.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Waste Tire Recommendations


Act 427 of the 2015 Regular Session required the Waste Tire Program Task Force to
make recommendations on improving the program, including fee structure changes,
to the oversight committees. Although the program has been successful in
eliminating illegal piles of waste tires, the Department of Environmental Quality
(DEQ) has struggled for a decade to timely pay waste tire processors.

Orphan Well Program


SCR 89 of the 2015 Regular Session created a task force to study the regulation of
oil and gas wells and the management of orphan wells. Much of the discussions
during the task force meetings have centered around the orphan well program, the
effect of low oil prices on small operators, and their ability to comply with the
program's financial security requirements. The task force is required to submit their
report no later than February 1, 2016.

Clean Power Plan


New EPA rules require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power
plants. The rules allow states to choose how to reduce emissions and grant the
option to comply individually or in coordination with other states. In 2014, the
legislature charged DEQ with developing performance standards based on
measures that can be implemented at each fossil fuel-fired electric generating unit in
the state. DEQ's compliance plans are due to the EPA in September; that is, if the
federal law survives legal challenges filed by more than half the states claiming that
the EPA overreached its authority and that the plan would harm many states that
depend on coal to power their economies.
Possible Legislative Issues in 2016

Funding for Transportation


Infrastructure
Proponents for enhanced funding report that the
need for new capacity projects and continued
maintenance to existing infrastructure continues to
grow as the buying power of the gas tax is
diminished. Legislators continue to search for
sources of alternative funding for these
infrastructure projects.

REAL ID
Louisiana driver's licenses do not meet all the
requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005 which
established minimum standards for state-issued
driver's licenses and prohibits federal agencies
from accepting for official use. In 2015, there was
concern that Louisiana-issued credentials would
not be accepted for air travel.
The U.S.
Department of Homeland Security issued an
extension for Louisiana citizens until October 2016.
Legislation on the issue is expected this session.

Possible Legislative Issues in 2016