[Update: House Bill 531 was deferred Thursday morning at the request of Lafayette officials.]
The Senate Local and Municipal Affairs Committee on Thursday will take up a now-controversial bill by state Rep. Joel Robideaux, no party-Lafayette, that would create the Lafayette Parish Redevelopment Authority. The purpose of the bill is help Lafayette Parish deal with blighted properties in the parish by expediting the process by which dilapidated buildings are razed or refurbished and move back into commerce. The House Bill 531 zipped through the House on May 12 by a 96-0 margin.
However, a section of the bill granting the redevelopment authority — an appointed commission — the power to levy taxes and “call for any tax or other election” has generated opposition from both ends of the political spectrum.
On Wednesday, the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee came out against HB 531, calling it a “badly flawed bill,” adding:
In addition, the bill would create yet another taxing authority with the apparently unchecked power to create Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts. These districts would target City of Lafayette residents and those living in unincorporated areas because the proposed law gives small municipalities in the parish the ability to opt out of participation in the scheme.
HB 531 represents the second attempt in two years by the Durel administration to solve a genuine problem — the proliferation of blighted and adjudicated properties. As was the case last year, this proposal would produce a powerful bureaucracy with the ability to seize and transfer property to new owners of its choosing. This organization would operate beyond the supervision of elected government and beyond the reach of citizen control. It is a proposal rich with opportunities for abuse.
We urge the Senators to reject this bill. We also recommend that the Durel administration engage a broader community dialog on this issue of concern to all residents and property owners.
The Dems push back against the bill came a few days the Tea Party of Lafayette targeted the bill in an letter to Senate committee members, characterizing it as “an egregious power grab with statewide implications, in that it opens the door to the use of de facto eminent domain at the local level (a power currently denied local governments in state law) and takes the power to deal with said properties away from local elected officials and gives it to a five member, appointed (un-elected) commission or authority. What’s even worse, it puts the power of taxation into the hands of this autonomous 5-member board.”
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OCT 30 If you're a Louisiana native of (ahem) a certain age, you might have fond (or fuzzy, as the case may be) memories of a Zebra concert and singing "Who's Behind the Door" until your ears rang. This post on NOLA Defender profiles the leader of that band, Randy Jackson.
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OCT 30 Blogger Crazy Crawfish is taking aim at state Superintendent John White again, this time for comments White made recently, claiming that there is no real opposition to Common Core in Louisiana. Crawfish is documenting proof to the contrary here, and lays down the gauntlet to "mainstream news media." (Don't hold your breath on that one, buddy.)
OCT 30 Gambit covers Advocate publisher John Georges' recent visit to Loyola in this post. Georges touches on how things are going in this new gig, what he thinks about the Pic's decision to move printing to Alabama, and how he feels about his political campaigns.
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OCT 30 BESE member Lottie Beebe pens this letter to the editor of the Advocate about the state Department of Education. The DOE isn't exempt from the state public records law, and because of recent lawsuits she tried to require regular reports about how many requests had been made to the department and how many remained unanswered. She wasn't successful.
OCT 29 Manny Schewitz blogs on Forward Progressives about recent Facebook posts from David Vitter, including one that purports to take you to a petition to stop Ebola (say what?) but actually signs you up for his newsletter or campaign email list or some such nonsense. Dave must think we're dummies, Manny says -- and Dave's probably right.
OCT 29 Usually, the copy on Red Shtick is satire. But in this post "from the publisher," we get a pretty astute political analysis of Edwin Edwards' charisma and old-school populist swagger. Edwards isn't concealing billionaire backers, or trying to make his opponent out to be "Satan," the post says. He's just running. Huh; imagine that.
OCT 29 Salon's Elias Isquith writes this fairly hilarious commentary on a National Review post about Bobby Jindal's attempts to "beef up" in preparation for a presidential run. But it's not just funny; Isquith seems to have Bobby's number, commenting on how the Gov "and his team are hopelessly ensconced in the Tea Party bubble."
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