Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards unveiled key pieces of legislation comprising his 2018 regular legislative session agenda to reduce government red tape, further eliminate waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars and lift regulatory burdens to help small businesses in Louisiana effectively compete in the marketplace. His agenda also includes legislation that supports and honors Louisiana military families.
“Shortly after I was elected, I directed all agencies and departments in my administration to seek efficiencies and cost savings in order to consistently improve upon the services and functions that state government provides to the people of Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards. “We are obligated to spend every tax dollar wisely and run government in a way that lifts up small businesses, professionals and especially our military families so that they all have the tools they need to succeed and grow our economy.”
Regulatory Relief for Businesses and Professionals
Louisiana ranks 6th in the nation for the most broad and onerous states for occupational licensing requirements according to the Institute for Justice’s 2017 report - License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing, 2nd Edition.
“My legislative agenda will help us cut through unnecessary red tape to provide regulatory relief from the overly burdensome system that costs small businesses, military families and professionals valuable time and money,” said Gov. Edwards. “It is time to take a look at the old way we’ve been doing things and make common sense changes to bring our regulatory laws into the 21st century.”
Regulatory Relief for Military Families
“Many people fail to remember that service members are not the only ones making sacrifices to serve our country, but the spouses and children of military families give up a great deal when their loved ones are called to serve at a new station far away from the place they call home,” said Gov. Edwards. “Relocating somewhere entirely unfamiliar often means finding new jobs, new schools and months of adjustment to life in a new place. We see it as our duty to make that transition easier through regulatory relief for those families whose service brings them to Louisiana.”
Cultivating Louisiana Small Businesses
Small businesses account for 99.5 percent of Louisiana businesses according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy. The governor’s goal is to build arobust system for addressing the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners and building capacity of small businesses to stimulate company growth.
“Louisiana small businesses make up 99.5 percent of all businesses in the state and employ over half of our private workforce,” said Gov. Edwards. “That means they are the heart of our economy and provide a means of living for the vast majority of people in communities across the state. We must build on our work to cultivate an environment that will propel their ability to flourish and compete.”
HB 591 by Rep. Walt Leger creates the Louisiana Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council with the charge of advising Louisiana Economic Development and the Governor on issues affecting the competitiveness of small businesses in Louisiana.
Stamping Out Waste, Fraud and Abuse
“Louisiana taxpayers have entrusted us with wisely and responsibly investing their tax dollars, and as I have said many times, with that responsibility comes the task of finding ways to constantly improve upon the functions and services of state government so that they receive a good return on their investment,” said Gov. Edwards. “Stamping our waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars is part of that pursuit and is an important piece of my legislative agenda this year.”
Strengthening Emergency Response
“With our share of natural disasters over the last two years, my administration has identified areas of our emergency response apparatus that can be streamlined in order to reduce red tape and enhance our ability to respond quickly to rapidly changing scenarios posed by unfolding emergency situations,” said Gov. Edwards.
Reforming Capitol Outlay
The capital outlay program provides a source of funding for public improvement type projects not eligible for funding through other dedicated funding programs.
“In an effort to ensure a more equitable and stable process, it is time that the state close the frequently utilized loophole in the capital outlay program that allows late capital outlay applications to be classified as economic development projects on a subjective basis,” said Gov. Edwards.
HB 146 by Rep. Paula Davis (R-Baton Rouge) provides relative to economic development criteria for late approval under the Capital Outlay Program.
This measure will codify in law criteria to be considered by Louisiana Economic Development in defining economic development projects as part of capital outlay program’s late application process.
Streamlining Boards and Commissions
“In line with our goal to streamline government and seek meaningful efficiencies, I am supporting efforts to reduce the number of state boards and commissions with overlapping functions that have fallen unnecessary or inactive,” said Gov. Edwards.
SB 319 by Sen. Gatti abolishes boards and commissions, authorities, districts, and like entities that are inactive.
Honoring the Sacrifice of Gold Star Families
In addition to professional licensure regulatory relief for military families, Gov. Edwards’ legislative agenda calls for the construction of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Louisiana through partnerships with the Governor’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisiana Gold Star Families Honoring Committee, the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and the National WWII Museum.
“Forever honoring the sacrifices of our Gold Star Families will make clear our deep and lasting appreciation for the their priceless contribution to protecting and preserving all that we hold dear,” said Gov. Edwards. “It is truly a blessing to be able to partner with these groups to bring such a meaningful monument to our state grounds where it will touch the lives of visiting children and families from across the world.”
SB 175 by Sen. Jonathan Perry (R-Kaplan) provides for a monument honoring the sacrifices of Louisiana Gold Star Families to be placed and maintained in an appropriate area on the east side of the state capitol on the grounds surrounding the Old Arsenal Museum known as the Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park.