2012 Regular Legislative Session
K-12 Education Reform
The Legislative Session began at a fast-pace in March by moving the major K-12 Education Reform bills within the first four weeks.
The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce joined other Chambers and business organizations in SUPPORTING improvements to the existing teacher tenure laws (House Bill 974 by Representative Carter and Senator Alario) which will include pay-for-performance and evaluations. These changes go into effect on July 1, 1012.
We were also part of the team supporting the School Choice/voucher bill (House Bill 976 by Representative Carter and Senator Appel) that allows parents to change schools if their child is attending a low ranking school. The legislation also provides for new opportunities for competition with charter schools. This legislation becomes effective on August 1, 2012.
We also successfully supported the legislation that requires local option elections for local school districts with respect to term limits for local school board members. House Bill 292 by Representative Pugh and Senator Donahue was signed into law and went into effect on May 31, 2012.
Higher Education – LSUS merger with LA Tech
As soon as the K-12 package was successfully passed through the legislature, our attention became the proposed merger of LSUS into Louisiana Tech and the University of Louisiana system. This highly controversial issue dominated the next two months of the Session. House Bill 964 by Representative Fannin and Senator Walsworth drew statewide attention on a local issue.
Although the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and many other business organizations and Chambers supported the proposal as a way to grow the existing LSUS campus into a comprehensive four-year university, the LSU System and LSU Baton Rouge were fiercely opposed to the proposal. Many dedicated community volunteers spent their own time and money traveling to Baton Rouge for committee hearings and the House floor debate to express their support; however, there were simply not enough votes to gain the two-third approval needed to pass the legislation.
We do feel successful in having raised the awareness of the higher education needs of the LSUS campus and gained commitments from the LSU system to help us attain the goal of increasing course offerings at LSUS that meet the needs of our community.
LSU Health Sciences Center - Shreveport
LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport was also a high priority for the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce in fighting against deep budget cuts through the state operating budget (House Bill 1, the Appropriations bill). We activated our grassroots network twice during the session asking our members to communicate the importance of LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport to state legislators in the final weeks of the session dominated by budget cuts. A potential shortfall of $50 million for LSUHSC Shreveport was reduced to a final outcome of $11.8 million reduction.
Economic Development incentives
In the area of economic development, the Chamber was in step with other economic development groups throughout the state in supporting three separate business tax incentives that go into effect in Louisiana on July 1, 2012. The Corporate Tax Apportionment Program – House Bill 729 by Representative Robideaux and Senator Walsworth; the Corporate Headquarters Relocation Program (House Bill 937 by Robideaux and Walsworth) provides a rebate for certain costs related to the relocation of certain corporate headquarter projects and the Competitive Projects Payroll Incentive Program (House Bill 958 by Robideaux and Senator Riser) grants a rebate to certain qualifying businesses.
To obtain a copy of a bill, to read a summary in the Digest of a bill or to view online any of the legislation mentioned above, go to www.legis.state.la.us
Simply type in the bill number and view the final version of the legislation.