Despite breezing through the House of Representatives, HB 420 — a local bill calling for the restoration of Holy Rosary Institute by taking revenue from the Cajundome — will likely stay stuck in the Senate Finance Committee, at least until more details are provided.
Under the guise of saving Holy Rosary Institute, the bill, authored by Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, proposes redirecting $200,000 from the state’s portion of Lafayette Parish's hotel/motel tax — money that has gone to the Cajundome since 1998. The bill passed the House 86-3, but has since been stuck in the Senate Finance Committee, where it awaits introduction.
From the start, the bill has raised questions: How will the money be used? What are the actual plans for the site's redevelopment? Why will the redirected funds go to a private non-profit, and not the actual owners of the property?
Though Pierre has not returned The IND's phone calls, he did recently submit this letter to our editors:
Pierre is right: Holy Rosary is worthy of saving. That, however, is not the issue, and although Pierre's letter thoroughly highlights the school's historical significance — there's no arguing that fact — he fails to address a single question surrounding the proposed legislation.
According to Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, that is why HB 420 will remain in limbo, at least until some daylight is shed and a more formidable plan is presented — one that not only abides by state law (it’s questionable whether these funds can be redirected from a public to a private entity in the first place) but also reaches some level of consensus with Cajundome and local officials, or at least brings them to the bargaining table for an open discussion on the proposed legislation.
“There just needs to be more agreement from all parties, and more detailed information before this will even be addressed,” says Mills, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. “Until then, it’ll remain in queue.”
Pierre will need to act fast then, as the clock for this year’s Session is quickly winding down to its last day on June 6.