Mayor Landrieu Touts Success Of 2016 Regular Legislative Session

Mayor Mitch Landrieu

NEW ORLEANS – Following the adjournment of the State of Louisiana’s 2016 Regular Legislative Session Monday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu applauded the Orleans delegation for their leadership in passing legislation and taking strong actions to help sustain the City of New Orleans’ economic growth and protect the city’s institutions.

         Landrieu administrations reps said key successes include passing important reforms to the New Orleans Firefighters’ Pension that will ensure its solvency into the future, consolidating Municipal and Traffic Courts to reduce judgeships and increase efficiencies, supporting the Orleans Parish Communications District and its operation of emergency 9-1-1 services and civilianizing traffic control to free up NOPD manpower to fight violent crime.

         They said with the Orleans delegation, the City successfully advocated against proposed legislation that would have overturned HireNOLA, the City’s local hire policy aimed at requiring contractors on City projects ensure that jobs go to New Orleans residents. The City and partners also successfully lobbied against legislation that would have arbitrary labeled New Orleans a “sanctuary city” and impacted borrowing capacity for any entity within the City, jeopardizing repairs to New Orleans drainage system and roads in addition to improvements at the Airport, Audubon Zoo and Aquarium, Mercedes-Benz Superdome and expansions to the Morial Convention Center and the Port of New Orleans, they said.

         “I am pleased we were able to protect the interests of New Orleans during this regular legislative session,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Working with the Orleans delegation and our partners on the New Orleans City Council we achieved key reforms and fought back against challenges that would have damaged our city’s reputation and hampered essential City services. Right now, New Orleans is heading in the right direction so it is imperative that we do everything we can to strengthen our city. We’re taking this momentum forward into the special legislative session where we will continue to fight for our people and our businesses.”

         Mayor Landrieu traveled to Baton Rouge multiple times during the legislative session to meet with area lawmakers and State leaders about the City of New Orleans’ priorities. New Orleans City Councilmembers and local board chairs also joined the effort.

         Speaker Pro Tempore State Representative Walt Leger III said, “In spite of unprecedented challenges this legislative session, I'm pleased with the victories that our delegation achieved for New Orleans, including tackling tough issues like the firemen's pensions and the return of schools. Faced with a staggering budget shortfall originally estimated at $2 billion and political gridlock, we managed to advance key legislation to make our streets safer, improve our economy and create local jobs."

         Senator Conrad Appel said, “I am proud to have been able to work with the Administration to pass legislation that will clarify the legal environment surrounding Public Benefit Corporations. In this time of limited capital resources, public private partnerships will become an ever more important mechanism to structure major projects in our state. My legislation will ensure that any challenges to such projects will be handled fairly and expeditiously.”

         District A Councilmember Susan G. Guidry said, “While the City did not get everything it wanted out of this legislative session, there were many successes and much to be proud of. Thanks to the hard work of the Orleans Legislative Delegation and the intergovernmental staff here at City Hall, bills that reform and settle the NOFD pension, free up NOPD officers from traffic control, fund and modernize our 9-1-1 system, and consolidate and streamline our Municipal and Traffic Courts will all become law. These are important achievements that will make a positive impact in the quality of life of all New Orleanians.”

         District D Councilmember Jared C. Brossett said, “I commend and appreciate the Orleans Delegation's work to improve our states fiscal climate, education, healthcare and finally Medicaid expansion. It's unfortunate that HB2, the construction bill for the entire state, failed to pass in the House due to political maneuvering and lack of leadership. This political maneuvering has the possibility to negatively impact construction projects in the New Orleans region, including the Louis Armstrong International Airport.”

         Below is a summary of key legislative victories that were part of the City’s agenda:

 

Firefighter Pension Reforms (HB 56, HB 57, HB 58 and HB 59 – Rep. Leger)

 

         HB 56 – Any firefighter who enters the employ of the fire department on or after January 1, 2017, who has reached the age of fifty-seven, who has not less than twelve years of service and who is a contributing member of the system, may upon a written application to the board set forth the date in which he plans to retire.  Additionally, any firefighter who enters the employ of the fire department on or after January 1, 2017 shall receive a retirement benefit equal to 2.5% of his average compensation based on five highest years of consecutive employment, multiplied by the number of years of service. The service benefits of such firefighters shall not exceed 100% of the average compensation earned during any five highest average consecutive years of service preceding retirement.

         Any member who enters the employ of the fire department on or after January 1, 2017, whose withdrawal from service occurs prior to the attainment of the age of fifty-seven years and who at that time has completed at least twelve years of creditable service shall remain a member of the retirement system and receive a service retirement when he attains the age of fifty-seven. If a member with twelve years of creditable service dies after withdrawal from service but prior to attaining the age of fifty-seven, his widow, children, or estate, shall receive his accumulated contributions in a lump sum with interest. If a member receiving benefits dies, his spouse and children shall receive the benefit.

         HB 57 – This bill authorizes the fire department to deduct member contributions each pay period.  The fire department is also mandated to remit all member contributions directly to the system once a month. Member contributions deducted will be deemed part of the member's compensation for purposes of determining benefits and whether such compensation is less than the minimum amount required by law. Payment to a member of his compensation shall be deemed to discharge and acquit the fire department and the city with respect to services rendered by such member during such period, except as to any prospective claim for benefits or payments.

         HB 58 – Restricts payment options for members electing to participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) in the Firefighters' Pension and Relief Fund in the city of New Orleans and provides relative to investment of the funds in member DROP accounts and interest earned. This bill also prohibits a member who elects to participate in DROP from also exercising an initial lump sum benefit option at retirement.

         HB 59 – This bill authorizes members of the Firefighters' Pension and Relief Fund in the city of New Orleans to convert unused annual and sick leave to retirement credit. The bill provides that the rate of conversion shall be established by the board of trustees of NOFF. The bill further requires written notice of the member's election to convert leave with the board prior to retirement. The bill would prohibit conversions pursuant to proposed law from causing a member's benefit to exceed his average compensation.

 

Consolidation of Municipal and Traffic Courts (HB 600 – Rep. Leger)

         Amends the qualifications, salaries, and number of judgeships of the Municipal and Traffic Court of New Orleans, and provides for other changes to this consolidated court.

 

Public Benefit Corporations (SB 447 – Sen. Appel)

         This bill provides the procedure for any person or other entity who challenges, seeks to nullify, or seeks to enjoin a lease or sublease of immovable property owned, leased or controlled by a public benefit corporation including an expedited court process for a hearing and appeal.

 

Short-term Rentals (HB 722 – Rep. Moreno)

         This bill defines "online hotel marketplace", "online hotel operator", and "online hotel sale". Bill also provides for registration by online hotel marketplaces with the Dept. of Revenue and certain procedures for collecting, remitting, and distributing taxes imposed on online hotel sales. This is the companion legislation to Rep. Moreno’s HB 59 from the first special session that allows the taxing of short-term rentals.

 

9-1-1 Reform (HB 678 – Rep. Carmody)

         This bill provides for definitions and increases the amount of the charge being imposed on prepaid 9-1-1 services.

 

Orleans Parish Communications District (HB 805 – Rep. Broadwater)

         This bill provides for a levy of an emergency telephone service charge on certain communications systems; increases the maximum amount authorized to be levied within the district and provides relative to the use of service charge proceeds and the district's financial reports. This bill is the companion legislation to Rep. Carmody’s HB 678.

 

Orleans Parish School Board (SB 432 – Sen. Peterson)

         This bill provides for the return of certain charter schools from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School Board.

 

Traffic Control (HB 418 – Rep. Moreno)

         This bill authorizes the superintendent of police in the city of New Orleans to contract with or employ civilian traffic control officers.

 

REAL ID (SB 227 – Sen. Colomb)

         This bill provides Louisiana residents with the option of obtaining a compliant or non-compliant REAL ID.

 

CAPITAL OUTLAY PROJECTS

         Before the 2016 Regular Legislative Session adjourned Monday, the State House failed to approve HB 2, the State’s construction budget. This legislation authorized funding for essential Capital Outlay projects like improvements to parks, playgrounds, first responder stations, public facilities and infrastructure. It also included funding to construct a flyover addition from I-10 to improve access to the new North Terminal project currently under construction at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport as well as funding for infrastructure improvements to roads and drainage to support the new terminal.

         “The failure to approve the State’s construction budget is a troubling sign of a lack of leadership in the Capitol,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Investing in infrastructure and capital projects creates jobs and strengthens our state. It is disappointing that our legislators cannot find agreement on such a basic obligation like funding capital improvements that benefit the residents of Louisiana.”

         Mayor Landrieu added, “As the legislature begins the second special session, I will be strongly advocating that this legislation be made a priority by the House and Senate. HB 2 includes important infrastructure projects to support the new $826 million North Terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, among other capital priorities. This is unacceptable and must be addressed immediately.”

         Landrieu administration reps said had HB 2 been approved, the following projects would be funded:

 

Landside Roadways

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 2 $2,000,000

 

Loyola/I-10 Interchange Improvements, Feasibility Study, Interchange Modification Report, Environmental Assessment and Planning

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $3,500,000

Priority 2 $1,730,000

Priority 5 $2,315,000

Total: $7,545,000

 

Norman Playground Basketball Gym, and Park Enhancements, Planning and Construction

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $110,000

 

Rosenwald Community Center, Planning and Construction

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $1,990,000

 

Taylor Pool and Playground, Renovations and Upgrades, Planning and Construction 

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $250,000

 

Construction of Opelousas Street Extension from Behrman Avenue to Obannon Street and Construction of Patterson Drive Extension from Hendee Street to Obannon Street, Planning and Construction

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $1,522,000

Priority 5 $250,000

Total: $1,772,000

 

Algiers Playgrounds and Parks, Renovation of Restrooms, Lighting, Fencing, and Playground Equipment  

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $275,000

 

Eastern New Orleans Hospital, Equipment, Acquisition, Installation, Planning and Construction 

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $2,613,000

 

George W. Carver Playground, Renovations and Upgrades, Planning and Construction

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $450,000

 

West Bank Park Improvements – New Soccer Facilities, Planning and Construction

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $9,236,300

Priority 5 $4,000,000

Total: $13,236,300

 

Parish Line Drainage Pump Station Capacity Increase, Planning and Construction (Jefferson)

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $3,350,000

Priority 5 $1,600,000

Total: $4,950,000

 

Historic Algiers Courthouse

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $125,000

 

Consolidated Engine 33/40 

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $375,000

 

New NOPD 4th District

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $300,000

 

Treme Center

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 2 $25,000

 

West Bank Ferry Terminal

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 2 $100,000

 

Holiday Drive Roadway (Reauthorization)

Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 2 $98,200

 

 

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