Legislator: Time to "re-establish" legislative branch of government

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In his words, Rep. Jerome Richard said it's time to "re-establish" Louisiana's legislative branch of government.

"Understand, it's not this governor. We've being doing this for a long time. We give up our authority to check and balance the executive branch and that to me is the problem. I don't think we're being efficient at all. That's why I'm bringing the bills I'm bringing because I think there are better ways we can do that to soften the blows to higher ed," said Rep. Richard, I-Thibodaux.

The governor's plan to balance the budget includes cutting $200 million from the state's colleges and universities.

Richard wants to cut from somewhere else like professional, personal and consulting service contracts and in turn, fund higher education. That's what House Bill 30 would do.

Last year, a bill on the table would have done that, but the governor vetoed it. Even though the bill passed the House and Senate unanimously.

This year, Richard is counting on House Bill 31 to automatically give legislators a vote to override any veto from the governor.

"Most people on the street do not know we vote by secret ballot to say if we want to come back to Baton Rouge to attempt to override a veto. I want to make that automatic," said Rep. Richard.

Veto power is the focus of another bill. This one would be taking power away from the governor's office. House Bill 32 would remove the governor's authority to pick-and-choose what parts of a bill he wants to veto, also known as a line item veto, without vetoing the bill entirely.

One political analyst Jim Engster said it's unlikely to pass.

"It's doubtful that the legislature with all the commotion that's going on with the budget would opt to take away the governor's power. Louisiana traditionally has one of the most powerful governor's in America and that's unlikely to change despite the chaos that's about to happen at the Capitol," said Engster.

Most of the bills pre-filed by Rep. Richard are constitutional amendments which would require statewide votes.

The 2015 Session begins April 13th.

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