Capitol Views by Maginnis: Senate OKs higher employee contribution; Hornets rebate bill wins committee approval
After a two-week delay and extensive modifications, the administration-backed changes to the state employee retirement system are moving again. The Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 52 by Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, to increase employee contributions by two percentage points instead of three. The increase would be phased in over four years, beginning in July 2013. "This is drafted in the way to have the least possible negative impact on employees and families," said Guillory. The governor’s executive counsel defended the bill’s constitutionality in that it readjusts the state-to-employee ratio back closer to its 60%/40% level of 1987, from the current 75%/25% split. Jennifer Schaye from the attorney general’s office estimated that in the likelihood of a court challenge, state legal costs could be $750,000 to $3 million, based on the experience of other states. To be taken up later today are bills to increase to five years from three the period for figuring the average compensation, and a bill to phase in an increase of retirement ages.
—A bill to give the New Orleans Hornets a $3.65 million per year rebate overcame a killer amendment in the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee today, which passed HB 1072 by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. The annual rebate, if it ultimately passes, will make up part of the lease negotiations following the sale of the team to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. The committee turned back an amendment to fund the rebate through extending tolls on the Crescent City Connection, which will expire next month. Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Grambling, said that few of his constituents attend Hornets game, to which Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, countered that he had never been to Grambling but still supports appropriations for the north Louisiana school. If the bill remains unamended, it is only one step away from the governor's desk.
(John Maginnis will publish a daily update throughout the legislative session on Daily Report PM. The report is also available to LaPolitics Weekly subscribers on the Subscribers Only page at LaPolitics.com. Registration is available on the homepage.)
Louisiana Public Broadcasting is providing a daily video update featuring highlights of the session, which you can see beginning at 6 p.m. here.
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