BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana’s 144 state lawmakers will debate more than 1,100 bills during the legislative session that begins Monday, March 9 and ends on June 1.
Efforts to lower Louisiana’s average car insurance rates are chief among lawmakers’ priorities. Drivers in the pelican state pay more each month to insure their rides than drivers in every other state but Michigan.
The car insurance fight will likely be one of this session’s nastiest, generally divided along party lines.
The state’s most powerful republicans aim to lower rates by reducing frivolous lawsuits through what they call “tort reform." Democrats and a few moderate republicans would restrict the insurance industry’s ability to adjust rates based on factors unrelated to driving, like gender or military history.
Lawmakers cannot raise taxes this year, and there will not be significant budget cuts to state services.
But legislators on the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) have not yet agreed how much of your money is available to spend this year, meaning there will be a low-stakes budget battle again pitting republicans against Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The two sides are divided now on when to adopt a rosier revenue forecast that would allow the state to invest more money in things like education or transportation.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne likened the situation to Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” because this year’s spat is nearly identical to last year’s predicament. In 2019, lawmakers ultimately adopted a better-than-expected revenue forecast and invested the extra money, primarily, in $1000 teacher pay raises.
The 2019 fight created an inconvenience for staffers and lawmakers but had almost no monetary impact on the budget lawmakers ultimately approved.
There are roughly 50 new legislators without prior legislative experience, and there is a new Senate President and Speaker of the House.
There is no cap on the number of bills each lawmaker can file, meaning there will be more time for debate on broader social issues.
The House convenes tomorrow at noon. Gov. John Bel Edwards will address both chambers at 1 p.m.
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