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Lawmakers hit ground running, Peacock says

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State Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, said lawmakers hit the ground running from the opening of the session.

“From the Senate side, we started off the week with committee meetings after convening on Monday,” Peacock said. “That’s the encouragement that if we are going have another special session, we need to take care of business. For the first week it was a full work week. Typically we don’t start committee meetings on Monday.

Peacock said the Senate had to suspend a rule requiring bills be read on the Senate floor before they go to committee. But he said 11 of his 13 retirement system bills already moved through committee last week.

He said lawmakers are concerned about getting the budget done during the regular session. One of the things that must happen for the budget to be completed is the meeting of the Revenue and Estimating Committee, which isn’t expected until May.

“That will box in the House and put them in bind for doing the budget,” Peacock said. “What they will do is say, ‘This is the budget and, for any additional revenue, when it’s recognized it will go to these things.’”

Peacock said he has some key bills expected to advance this week. Three of those bills would create multistage compacts that would streamline the licensing for nurses, EMTs and physical therapists who move between states within the compacts. These compacts would be a benefit to families moving to Barksdale Air Force Base and other military installations across the state, as well as civilian workers in those fields.

“It was pointed out to me by Col. (Ty) Neuman that this is a concern when a spouse moves,” Peacock said. “It’s extremely important for Barksdale, but also for military families at Fort Polk and Belle Chase. I reached out to therapists, EMTs and nurses in our area, and they are in favor of this, too.”

Peacock has a second bill, SB 114 The Military Service Relief Act, that is expected to go to committee this week. This bill will help service men and women when they get transfer orders by allowing them to suspend contracts for things like local gym memberships.

Peacock also addressed the funding for the new Interstate 20/I-220 and entrance to Barksdale. The GARVEE bond funding for that project must be approved by the Joint Budget Committee and then by the Bond Commission. Peacock has spoken to members of the Joint Budget Committee, and he is confident they are in favor of supporting the project. They are waiting for the Department of Transportation and Development to put the GARVEE Bond projects on the committee’s agenda so they can vote on it.

But Peacock reiterated that there is one priority right now in the Legislature.

“We still have obligation to pass budget in this regular session, with the revenue the state does have,” Peacock said.

By Scott Anderson