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Louisiana Legislature enters special session over state budget

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Time has run out on Louisiana lawmakers to come to an agreement on the state budget, prompting a special session.

The Louisiana Legislature has gone into its fourth Special Session in two years to finalize a state budget and capital outlay plan after being unable to do so during the regular session that ended at 6 p.m. Thursday. Legislators will have 10 days to essentially start from scratch on House Bill 1, House Bill 2, and House Bill 3.

Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton), said on her Facebook page, “Could this have been avoided? Absolutely! But the governor, via the Senate, refused to budge. If we had not stood for budgetary reform, then for the remaining two years we would be powerless to legislate in a conservative and responsible manner.”

The sticking point was $50 million ut of a $29 billion budget. Specifically, a House effort to fund the government at 98 percent of the figure proposed by the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) and set aside about $200 Million in the event revenue estimates came up short.

“We, in good faith, continued to make several different offers but truly were negotiating against ourselves,” Horton said via her post. “So, today, after waiting all day, hoping for the best, only to be told that the only budget the senate would accept is one that spent 100% of the REC number. Now again, they have been wrong 16 straight times so why should we continue to do the same thing, over and over again?”

Horton added the state budget was passed out of the House weeks ago to allow the senate plenty of time to evaluate and amend it in order to avoid a vote on the final day.

“We, the House members, rejected the Senate amendments that would have spent 100% of money that we will not get. This has been done year after year after year with us being called back into to Special Session to handle mid-year cuts. This is a horrible way to govern.”

The House adjourned until Monday, June 12 following what Horton described as a “pathetic” attempt by Rep. Walt Leger (D-New Orleans) to “hijack” HB1.

Horton said Leger presented an “unofficial” bill lacking the necessary signatures of HB1 author Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) and the Speaker of the House Rep. Taylor Barras (D-New Iberia) to make it official.

“His actions created a chaotic response from the Democrats. Rep. Leger made motion after motion only to have them objected to and ruled by the Speaker to be out of order. His attempt to highjack HB 1 was pathetic but again caused disorder like I have never witnessed before. The Democrats hollered at our Speaker, cheered and jeered out of control, upset that their plan was not going to work,” Horton described.

She said that following the chaos, the House voted to adjourn until Monday, June 12. The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, June 14. The session will end on June 19.