Reform bills on tap for session

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

Treasurer John Kennedy and Rep. Dee Richard, No Party-Thibodaux, say they plan to return this session with a bill to reduce the number of consulting contracts being underwritten with state money.

Kennedy, left, and Richard

After years of seeing their proposal fail, the duo managed to get a version out of the Legislature last year that gave lawmakers oversight of certain contracts of $40,000 or more that relied on general fund or over-collections money. But Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the legislation.

Kennedy wanted the money to go to higher education and told LaPolitics that he is partnering with another lawmaker this session to push a separate instrument to do the same. The bill would redirect certain federal grants away from NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, and give them to public universities instead.

Kennedy used after-school tutoring as an example.

“It will be more transparent and it’ll help out universities,” he said. “They could use students and they would be in a better position to measure results.”

Richard, meanwhile, is sponsoring his own ambitious reform package that will feature several bills. Included is a proposal for automatic veto sessions, where lawmakers would return for a day or two after a session ends to consider gubernatorial vetoes that passed with a majority vote.

He has another bill to take away the governor’s line-item veto authority and one to give the Legislature oversight of what the administration includes on its capital outlay agendas for approval by the Bond Commission. He further wants to eliminate funding for NGOs altogether and change the way members of the budget-drafting Appropriations Committee are selected.

“I know they’re all a long shot,” Richard said. “But we’ve got to start somewhere.”