If you followed my weekly emails during last year’s session, you would have noted the theme “Making Smart Investments.” We won major achievements, and we’re already reaping many of the benefits. But we still have a long way to go toward realizing our great State’s full potential. So this Legislative Session, I will be focusing on “Louisiana’s Bright Future” by shedding the poor policies of the past and pursuing modern, progressive ones that improve the quality of life for all of us.
To kick off this agenda, I authored HB 63 to eliminate the “r-word” and modernize language in our state laws on how we refer to persons with disabilities and other persons with exceptionalities. It will go before the Health and Welfare Committee on March 19. This bill is important to me for many personal reasons, but it also is part of my vision for bringing Louisiana into the future and ensuring that all of our residents are valued and treated fairly.
In that same vein, I’m going to keep working for equal pay and employment nondiscrimination. Simply, Louisiana cannot meet its workforce needs and its full potential unless all persons take part in our economy in a fair and competitive way!
As I mentioned last week, we continue to fight an uphill battle to balance the budget. Ensuring that we are directing our limited resources toward our priorities means knowing what we value most. For me, it is people. That’s a simple answer, but it does guide every decision I make -- what’s best for the people of Louisiana. And not only in the short term, but for future generations.
The decisions we make this session will influence our lives in very meaningful ways, and they will affect the future for our children and grandchildren.
If you have not yet taken my Legislative Session Survey, please do so now. It only takes a few minutes of your time. And if you have family and friends who live in District 91, please have them sign up to receive my newsletter and participate in the survey atwww.waltleger.com.
New Orleans’ renaissance has been the result of a community effort -- working, rebuilding, and persevering. And in that way, we are a city of entrepreneurs.
We're seeing small businesses pop up across the city and new ventures being created at a rapid rate. In fact, the Brookings Institute places NOLA’s entrepreneurial activity as 56% above the national average. And this past week was a shining example of that:
You can read the USA TODAY article, "New Orleans festival targets lovers of business ideas" that was published today by clicking here.
As your state representative, I am dedicated to helping small businesses and creating good-paying jobs. I support legislation that fuels our economy, including everything from innovative incentives for businesses to ensuring fair pay.
If you have a business idea and are dedicated to making it happen, there are plenty of resources across the city to help you make your dream a reality:
Walter "Walt" J. Leger, III
Town Halls, coffee meetings, social gatherings, neighborhood events -- no matter where I go, people across New Orleans all share the same top concern -- crime.
This session, we have an opportunity to do something meaningful to fight crime and make our streets safe. I am sponsoring House Bill 111 to allow the people to vote on a constitutional amendment that would authorize the New Orleans City Council to ask the voters of the City whether they support additional millages for police and fire protection issues. Nobody wants their taxes raised, but everyone wants to be safe. The fact is, the City should have more flexibility on how to fund critical needs like hiring new police officers, funding the OPP Consent Decree, NOPD Consent Decree, and firefigher pensions. Ultimately, the final decision will be with the people of the City of New Orleans.
Our police and fire departments are making real progress, but we need to give them the resources they need to do the job well and make our streets safe, while also ensuring the safety of our police officers and fire fighters by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs. Since taking office in 2010, Mayor Landrieu has worked with the City Council each year to increase the budgets for the City’s public safety agencies. Earlier this year, the Mayor along with Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Fire Department Superintendent Timothy McConnell highlighted early signs of progress on the city’s public safety efforts and showcased new, state-of-the-art public safety equipment and technology. It is clear that our city’s leadership is committed to investing in public safety and introducing more resources, better facilities, and increased transparency. And we’re seeing major returns on these investments. Homicides were down more than 19 percent in 2013, compared to 2012, and the number of murders was the lowest in nearly 30 years.
This is promising news, but there is a lot more that we need to do to make our streets safe.
Walter "Walt" J. Leger, III
What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act
Beginning October 1st, individuals, families, and small businesses in Louisiana and across the U.S. will be able to shop for health insurance and compare a wide range of plans online through a virtual insurance exchange called the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Louisiana’s federally run Health Insurance Marketplace will affect both the insured and the uninsured.
Already have health insurance?
Those who are already insured will be able to find out if they are eligible for lower-costing private insurance and programs such as Medicaid.
Do not have health insurance?
Those who are uninsured may qualify for tax credits to purchase coverage in the Marketplace.
Open enrollment in the Marketplace will run from October 1st until March of 2014, and coverage will start as soon as January 1st, 2014. The Marketplace will have qualified health insurance navigators to assist users, provide fair and impartial information, and facilitate enrollment.
Visit healthcare.gov and follow the easy prompts to get:
The Affordable Care Act mandates that all U.S. citizens must have health insurance by January of 2014 or they will face penalties set forth by the IRS. The new healthcare law also forbids insurance companies to deny coverage or charge higher rates to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.
The purpose of the Health Insurance Marketplace is to:
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit https://www.healthcare.gov.
Even with historic bipartisan cooperation this session, political ideology continues to divide us.
I was proud when the legislation that I sponsored to empower the Morial Convention Center and revive New Orleans’ riverfront passed through the legislature. This was after I restored $100 million that Gov. Jindal tried to swipe from the project.
The Governor vetoed the bill anyway.
Making Our Vision for Louisiana a Reality
We ended the 2013 regular session today at 6 p.m. A lot of hard work led to a great sense of satisfaction.
The session is about much more than crafting legislation and hashing out a budget; it is where we represent the will of you, the people, and it is where we work to make our vision for the future of Louisiana a reality.
Did we succeed or did we fall short?
Yes we succeeded, and yes, we fell short.
Ronald Reagan once said, “The best social program is a job.”
The Louisiana New Markets Jobs Act fosters job creation and retention by making private financing available to the best jobs engine in America – local small businesses.
Louisiana New Markets will quickly bring $55 million of private capital for small business financing through a distinct public-private partnership.
The following report is provided by Families USA and Louisiana Consumer Healthcare Coalition
Louisiana is facing an important decision: whether or not to accept federal dollars to provide health insurance to many uninsured state residents through Medicaid. This decision will have profound implications for the hundreds of thousands of Louisianans who stand to gain health coverage if the state participates in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. But it will also affect the entire state. With the expansion, new federal funds—more than one billion dollars—become available. These funds would stimulate Louisiana’s economy and support more than ten thousand jobs. This report looks at the potential impact of a Medicaid expansion on jobs and economic activity in Louisiana.
I am honored to join leaders from across the state by serving on the steering committee of the Louisiana Chapter of the national Campaign to Fix the Debt.
The national debt has serious and direct implications on us here in Louisiana. Our schools and children’s programs are going to lose millions of dollars, thousands of federal employees who live here are going to have to stop working, and we will lose millions of dollars in Federal healthcare and environmental protection funds.
That’s why I’m taking a leadership role in the Campaign to Fix the Debt and urging our elected officials in Washington to come together to solve our nation’s fiscal challenges.
More at www.fixthedebt.org/Louisiana.
Governor Jindal’s proposed tax plan has been widely criticized by many of my colleagues and numerous interest groups, including religious leaders from across Louisiana. The flawed plan would place an unfair burden on families, small businesses, and taxpayers across the board.
The Governor’s tax plan is poor policy and not beneficial to attracting businesses, growing jobs, or building a strong economy. Under the Governor’s plan, you may not have to pay income tax, but you will pay more in sales tax and services. Furthermore, the Legislature would have no choice but to raise taxes even further to make up for resulting budget shortfalls.
Gov. Jindal’s tax plan doesn’t add up, and Louisiana’s citizens would end up paying for it. I’m going to fight for you this session to prevent this misguided tax plan from taking effect.