Rep. Gene Reynolds, District 10, discussed the regular and special legislative sessions Thursday at the Minden Lions Club weekly luncheon.
Reynolds, D-Minden, outlined bills he drafted along with measures lawmakers took to help balance the state’s budget.
“I appreciate being back home after 19 weeks,” he said. “That (sessions) was a record, but it was work that had to be done.”
He gave a brief overview of the constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot in November.
“Those are some amendments that will enable us to move some money around,” he said. “And that’s the biggest issue that we have right now and we had in this last special session.”
He gave a brief overview of each of his bills that passed into law, which includes Act 624, which requires public elementary and secondary schools to incorporate instruction in personal financial management.
He talked about the struggle to get open burning of munitions banned from the state of Louisiana, saying he killed House Bill 11 because of rumors about one of the co-authors. Instead, he offered House Concurrent Resolution 118, which provides for the environmental study of conditions when munitions are burned for destruction.
“I think this study, along with working with the EPA and others, that we’ll finally be able to get rid of open burning munitions,” he said. “At Camp Minden, they’ve been successful and burned millions of pounds with no pollution. So, it’s really going well out at Camp Minden, and I think it’s something that’s set a precedent all over the nation.”
He talked about the second special session, saying HB20 was a complicated bill that changes the percent for apportionment income from certain transportation, service and oil industry sectors to a single ratio calculation.
“What HB20 did was bring it back to a single factor, which is sales,” he said. “It did not affect 60 some percent of corporations, lowered the taxes on Louisiana corporations and raised the taxes a little on out of state corporations, which would raise somewhere in the neighborhood of around $20 million for the state.”
He also listed some of the projects he worked to get funded, many in Webster Parish: $831,000 for the potable water storage tank in Minden, $415,000 for wastewater treatment facility upgrades in Doyline, $1.2 million for HVAC renovations at the Webster Parish Court $900,000 for wastewater treatment facility improvements in Sibley, $95,600 for water tank renovations in Sibley and a $2.9 million recreation project for Springhill. Some of these were existing projects while others will move forward.
He also talked about Lake Bistineau and what he would like to see happen. When the governor prepared to cut a Bistineau erosion project that had no project attached, Reynolds told the governor during a phone call that he’d like to move the dam on the east side to where the original bayou comes up to the spillway.
“It does two things,” he said. “It helps with the salvinia control, because the drawdown of the lake is one of our biggest tools that we use. Also, we had a huge flood this past spring, and that will more or less eliminate all future floods. He’s agreed that when I put the new request in this next year to help me fund that.”
Reynolds says that during the first special session, some unintended exemptions were cut, and when they were added back in, it may leave the state a touch short for this fiscal year. Any revenue that comes in the next fiscal year will have to come right off the top to balance it, he said.
He says state officials are meeting regularly on suggestions on how to put some long-term solutions into the next fiscal year’s budget so that legislators do not have to keep going back in and dealing with the same issues.
“It’s taken us quite a while to get into this mess, and it’s going to take a while to get out of it,” he said.