With 2015’s legislative session set as a fiscal session, State Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, will be busy trying to get a balanced budget and bills passed.
There are several requests he’s made to go before the House and Senate, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether some will even get out of committee, he says. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal will probably be shot down before it ever goes anywhere, Reynolds predicts.
“It’s probably going to be dead on arrival when it gets to the House, because we’re going to disagree with a whole lot of that mess,” he said. “He’s dealing with funny money and money that can’t possibly happen, and it’s his same old tricks he’s been doing. There’s a lot of stuff in there that I know for a fact won’t fly.”
In the coming days, representatives and senators will be looking at the budget and striking and adding things they want to see make it. Here’s a look at some of the requests Reynolds will be making on behalf of his constituents in district 10.
No Open Burn
Reynolds is working with Lt. Gen. Russel Honore (Ret.), with the Green Army, to construct a bill that would eliminate the open tray burn method of disposal of M6 propellant or similar munitions in the state of Louisiana.
“I’m working with Gen. Honore on some of the language, and it hasn’t been completely drafted yet,” the state representative said. “If it passes, that means no one could burn M6 or propellant like that ever again in the state of Louisiana. We need to shut that door.”
A bill will be introduced that will make it a statewide law to allow school systems to choose textbooks from the book depository in Baton Rouge but online as well. If passed, faculty and school systems will be able to order materials straight from the publisher, Reynolds says.
“It gives the locals a better chance to make choices on textbooks,” he said. “It puts up guidelines on how they do that. They have to set up parent and teacher committees. The trend is to put more decision-making on the local school systems.”
A bill was introduced last year, but there were a few issues with the publishing companies, Reynolds says. He talked to some of the publishers and worked some things out, and his hope is it will move through and pass quickly. He hopes to get it through by the end of the session so the school board can start making decisions for the 2015-16 school year.
This bill is not associated with the Common Core State Standards, Reynolds says.
“This would go with any curriculum or content standards the state chooses,” he said. “We went back through it to make sure it does not favor any curriculum or content standards. This is strictly a process by which the locals can use textbooks for whatever the state ends up doing.”
The state representative is also working on a bill he introduces annually to try to get money for Lake Bistineau from minerals. It would generate roughly $100,000 per year. Reynolds says he is looking at a public/private partnership to help cover some of these expenses, as the requested amount won’t cover it all.
“The $100,000 requested doesn’t cover the whole year, so that’s why I’m looking into a public/private partnership,” he said. “We’ve got some people that are interested in trying to work with us.”
The idea is to get a bill passed that would generate funding from the oil and gas underneath the lake to build a weevil breeding station as well as research into endocide.
Endocide is a process developed by researchers at Stephen F. Austin State University by which the salvinia would produce lethal
chemicals that would turn on itself, thereby killing it from root to flower.
However, he feels it may not pass.
“Given a $1.6 billion deficit, I’m not sure it’s going to go through, but we’re going to try,” he said.
This issue will be discussed in more detail at the Bistineau Task Force meeting set to take place at 10 a.m., Thursday, March 19.
This bill would deal with the number of notaries in the state of Louisiana, Reynolds says.
“It’s a complicated issue,” he said. “The notary test is very hard and the banks are running out of notaries. They want to have more, but the Notary Association is against it because they don’t want more. They like the business. It’s going to be a contentious issue.”
A request has been made by the coroner’s office, Reynolds says, to put before the people the creation of a taxing district to take the load off municipalities and the Webster Parish Police Jury.
“I’m not sure how far that’s going to go,” he said. “It’s a requested bill, and that means I’m doing it by request. All the bill does is put the issue before the people. I’m going to have to take a neutral position on it myself.”
If passed, this request would be on the October ballot. The tax amount is stipulated in the proposed bill, which has not yet been filed.
The idea is to take the responsibility of paying the coroner’s office off the municipalities and police jury. One of the pros of this request, if passed, is it would help the smaller municipalities like Heflin or Dubberly.
The estimated cost of one autopsy is $1,800. Reynolds says if an accident occurred at the railroad tracks in Dubberly and four people were killed, it would cost the village of Dubberly $7,200. Bigger municipalities like the City of Minden or the police jury could absorb those costs better, he says.
“We’ve got to do something to help them out,” he said. “I’m not sure what it is yet, but I’ve looked for three years trying to find a way around this. For little towns, it’s just really a big expense.”
More will be revealed as these requests move through the process. The 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session is set to begin April 13.
Editor’s Note: As of presstime, the previous bill requests had not been assigned House Bill numbers.