What the Legislature did and didn't do

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Chaos erupts in the House as the regular session closes Thursday night amid failed efforts to negotiate with the Senate on a state budget. The Legislature immediately began a special session to continue working on a budget deal.

Louisiana lawmakers are still working to craft a state budget after failing to reach a compromise before their three-month regular session ended Thursday, June 8.

Here's a rundown of some of the major measures considered during the regular session, along with their outcomes.

Local votes are included for bills that made it to the House or Senate or both. Others bills died in committee or were withdrawn before either chamber could consider them, so local lawmakers never got a chance to cast a vote on them.


Gov. John Bel Edwards' package of fiscal reform bills died in committees. Collectively, the measures, most of which were recommended by a task force that studied the issue for nearly a year, aimed to end the state's continuing financial crisis by upping taxes on businesses and high-income residents while lowering them for most others.

Supporters of the reform bills said the Legislature failed to put the state on solid financial footing and continued the reliance on temporary taxes and severe cuts to education and health care, the only major services the state constitution fails to protect from budget cuts.


The updated version of the state's $50 billion, 50-year coastal master plan, won easy approval.

The plan paints a grim picture for coastal Louisiana and says that even under the best scenario, much of Terrebonne and Lafourche will be consumed by the Gulf of Mexico within 50 years.

The plan calls for billions of dollars in local spending; the biggest projects include continued work on the Morganza levee system, bolstering barrier islands and diverting sediment from the Atchafalaya River into western Terrebonne.

The plan also includes offering money to hundreds of residents in some of the most flood-prone areas of both parishes to help them move to higher ground. No specific homes have been pinpointed, and a relocation process has not yet been put in place.

The House passed the plan unanimously, the Senate 33-1.


A lawmaker withdrew his bill that would have increased Louisiana's gasoline tax, acknowledging he couldn't rally enough votes for passage.

Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said he couldn't gather the 70 votes needed in the House for the effort to raise hundreds of millions annually for road and bridge work.

The tax increase couldn't overcome the anti-tax sentiment of the majority-GOP chamber, combined with opposition from the state Republican Party and organizations working to defeat the bill.

Carter's House Bill 637 sought a 17-cent tax hike to raise $500 million yearly.


Two bills that aimed to protect Confederate monuments in Louisiana -- efforts sparked after New Orleans took down four such statues -- failed in a Senate committee.

Senate Bill 198 would have required legislative approval prior to removal of statutes.

House Bill 71 would have required a public vote before cities or parishes took down memorials.

Before the latter bill met its demise, the House voted 65-31 in favor of it. Here is how Ascension Parish representatives voted:

For: Tony Bacala, R-District 59; John A. Berthelot, R-District 88; and Clay Schexnayder, R-District 81.

Against: None.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 4-2 against both measures, which sparked heated testimony and debate among lawmakers.


Louisiana remains one of two states that bar same-sex couples from receiving domestic abuse protections.

The Senate voted 17-14 on May 23 to reject Republican Rep. Patrick Connick's House Bill 27, which removes the requirement that the victim be of the opposite sex in order for the act to be considered domestic violence.

However, the bill was reconsidered by the Senate and approved on May 30 by a vote of 25-13. Eddie Lambert voted to reject the bill both times.

Earlier, the House voted 54-42 in favor of the bill. Here is how Ascension representatives voted:

For: Bacala.

Against: Berthelot and Schexnayder.

The bill would apply stiffer penalties to violence convictions stemming from same-sex relationships. South Carolina is the only other state to limit domestic abuse protections to those of the opposite sex.


Measures that sought to enact legal mandates that businesses pay men and women equal wages for the same jobs failed in committee and never made it to House or Senate floor votes.

Proponents cited data that show Louisiana ranks second in the nation for greatest wage gap between men and women, 32 cents less per dollar of wages than men. Wyoming women make 36 cents less.

Opponents argued that federal and state statutes already prohibit wage discrimination based on gender and new language was unnecessary.

-- This story includes information from The Associated Press, Tribune News Service and the Manship School News Service.