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Governor Jindal One Year in Office Mark Today

Press Release

Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Governor Jindal One Year in Office Mark Today

Today, the Governor's office released a highlight summary of accomplishments during Governor Jindal's first year in office. The Governor was inaugurated on January 14, 2008, one year ago today.


Ethics Reform Special Session Accomplishments

"We were determined to send a signal to the entire world that it's a new day in Louisiana - and the only way to make that message stick was to fix our broken system of government ethics.

"In this first special session on ethics reform we passed legislation that now requires disclosure at every level of government in our state, we prohibited contracts between state government and legislators and executive branch leaders, we prohibited statewide elected officials, the governor's senior staff, legislators, their spouses, and businesses from receiving recovery-related contracts, we dramatically increased lobbyists' reporting requirements, we eliminated free tickets for elected officials to attend professional and collegiate sporting events, hunting and fishing trips, and golf outings, and we put an end to the lavish wining and dining of our legislators and public servants by lobbyists - capping all food and beverages for public servants."

- Governor Bobby Jindal

HB1: Enacts personal financial disclosures for the vast majority of elected and appointed officials in state and local government for the first time in Louisiana's history.

* The adoption of HB1 will spark national attention and bring Louisiana to the Top Five in the country for transparency in government.
* With this new law in place, Louisiana could jump ahead of Washington State as #1 in the nation for gubernatorial disclosure and will likely rank among the Top Five states in the country for legislative financial disclosure.

SB1: Prohibits contracts between state government and legislators and executive branch leaders - forcing officials to choose to work for themselves or the people of Louisiana, but not being able to do both.

* Legislators, executive branch department heads, their spouses, and businesses will no longer be allowed to enter into contracts with the state that are authorized or renewed during their term of office and for one year thereafter.
* Negotiated contracts between the state and the adult children, siblings and parents of legislators, executive branch department heads, the governor's senior staff, and their spouses will also be prohibited, unless awarded through a competitive process.
* Statewide elected officials, the governor's senior staff, legislators, their spouses, and businesses will be further prohibited from receiving recovery-related contracts during their term of office and for one year thereafter.
With these measures, Louisiana will be going further than almost any state in the country—setting the "gold standard" to eliminate conflicts of interest in government.
* The provision relating to federal recovery dollars, in particular, shows the state's commitment to accountability and makes a strong case as we look to Washington and our neighbors around the country to continue assisting in Louisiana's recovery.

SB11: Significantly enhances transparency in lobbyist activities.

Lobbyists' registration forms will now include compensation ranges, subject matter of lobbying activity, and business relationships with statewide elected officials, executive department heads, legislators, and their spouses.
* Lobbyists will report their spending on public officials, including their spouses and dependent children.
* Lobbyist reports will occur monthly, and all documents will be filed electronically and posted in an online, search-able database.
* With these reforms, Louisiana will rank among the Top Ten nationally in lobbyist transparency.

SB3: Eliminates loophole for free cultural and sporting event tickets for elected officials.

* Free tickets for elected officials to attend professional and collegiate sporting events, hunting and fishing trips, and golf outings will no longer be allowed.

SB8: Caps food and beverages for public servants at $50 - eliminating the unlimited wining and dining by lobbyists and special interests.

* In the past, Louisiana allowed unlimited spending on food and beverage for public officials and employees by lobbyists and those seeking contracts with the state.
* With this new law, these individuals will be limited to spending a maximum of $50 per occasion on public servants.

SB5: Requires the recusal of elected officials who have a conflict of interest.

By repealing an exception in the existing ethics code, this new law ensures that—under no circumstances—will an elected official vote where a conflict is present.

HB6: Requires annual ethics training for all public servants and lobbyists.

* This law will phase in mandatory training each year for all those governed by the ethics code to promote awareness and compliance with new and existing laws.

HB29: Requires training and qualifications for ethics board members.

* This bill requires the presence of three lawyers on the ethics board to provide a resource to the other eight members.
Mandatory training for board members will serve as an in-depth introduction to the rules they have the responsibility to enforce.

HB41: Provides greater separation between the Ethics Board's advisory, investigatory, and prosecutorial functions.

Beginning this summer, independent administrative law judges will be selected at random by the ethics board to preside over hearings and rule on charges and penalties.
* This new law will provide a neutral forum where the ethics board can prosecute cases, while an independent administrative law judge will help make the finding and assess the penalty.

SB37: Requires online reports of all state spending by agency and function.

* This new law requires the Commissioner of Administration to post a monthly report of the appropriations and spending for each budget unit of state government.
* The website will be user-friendly and fully functional in January 2009.

SB35: Prohibits attempts to circumvent the ethics code.

New and existing ethics laws can not be circumvented with the transfer of assets, counter letters, or other measures.

HB56: Creates the Office of Inspector General in statute.

* This legislation formalizes and makes permanent the mission of this office, strengthening the means to fight against waste, inefficiency, fraud, and abuse in state government.

HB80: Authorizes the issuance of subpoenas by local inspector generals and local ethics entities.

* This new law lends the full support of the state in the efforts of local government to tackle waste and fraud.

HB8: Expands whistleblower protection.

* With the adoption of HB8, no threat against a public employee who reports wrongdoing within state government will be tolerated.

SB29: Requires disclosure by Section 527 political groups.

* The public and candidates will now have a clear understanding of all contributors, contributions, and expenditures made to 527 groups conducting political activities.

SB14: Requires the disclosure of third-party political advertisements.

This law lets the public know who is attempting to influence their opinion and their vote.
* The group sponsoring the advertisement will disclose their full name and contact information and will explicitly state whether a candidate authorized the ad.

HB65: Prohibits candidates with outstanding ethics fines from qualifying as a candidate for elected office.

* With the adoption of HB65, those who violate ethics laws and are in default will no longer be able to run for elected office until those fines are paid.

HB7: Establishes a $10,000 limit for contributions to gubernatorial transition teams.

* The voluntary limit imposed by the transitions of both Governor Jindal and former Governor Blanco will now be solidified in statute.

HR1: Requires the House to broadcast proceedings.

* With this rule in place, all audio and video of House deliberations in committee rooms and the floor will be broadcast live via the Internet and archived for at least three years.

HR2: Requires non-governmental entities receiving state funds to file a supplemental information form for all appropriations requests in the House.

* This rule puts important information in the hands of the taxpayer.
* These forms, filed prior to a vote, will show the dollar amount, the name of the legislator offering the amendment, and the organization's name, budget, directors, and ties to elected and appointed officials.

HR3: Prohibits legislators, through House rules, from changing their vote.

* This rule provides that a motion to change a legislator's vote is debatable and must be requested and granted on the same legislative day that the vote was cast.


Second Special Session Accomplishments

"In our second special session we moved to dramatically alter our tax code. We eliminated anti-business taxes on business utilities, new equipment and debt, and we did something government too rarely does…we used a one-time surplus to make one-time expenditures that strengthen our economy."

- Governor Bobby Jindal

Reducing Business Taxes

SB12: Accelerates the Elimination of the Tax on Business Investment (MM&E)

* With 120 co-authors, Louisiana is NO LONGER one of only three states in the country that taxes manufacturing machinery and equipment.
The tax on Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment will be completely eliminated by July 1, 2009 (FY 2010).

SB10: Accelerates the Elimination of the Tax on Capitol Investment (Debt)

With 125 co-authors, Louisiana is NO LONGER one of the only states in the country to tax business debt.
The tax on business debt will be completely eliminated by July 1, 2010 (FY 2011).

SB7: Eliminates the Burdensome Tax on Business Utilities

* The "permanent penny" tax on business utilities will NOW be eliminated.
* It is important that we create a climate that not only attracts new business but rewards and supports established businesses already in the state.

SB5: Provides a Tax Deduction for Tuition, Uniforms, and Other Expenses for Students Statewide

* These deductions allow for some educational expenses to be subtracted from taxable income prior to the calculation of tax liability.
* A 50-percent deduction will be provided to eligible taxpayers effective July 1, 2009.

HB9: Re-authorizes Louisiana's New Markets Tax Credits

* In order to continue Louisiana's leadership in New Markets investments and carry on the same momentum generated so far, Louisiana's New Markets Tax Credit will be reauthorized and get an investment of $50 million over three years in targeted key areas.
* With this legislation, New Markets investors can stay in Louisiana.

Investment Priorities For Louisiana's Surplus

HB46: Invests Louisiana's surplus dollars in five strategic areas:

1. Transportation and Infrastructure: $530m
2. Hurricane Protection and Coastal Restoration: $300m
3. Deferred Maintenance for Higher Education: $75m
4. Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL): $60m
5. Pennington Biomedical Research Center: $50m

1. Transportation and Infrastructure: $530 Million

$253M will improve roads, bridges, and ports across the state (based on objective criteria by DOTD)
o ALL projects in the Port Priority Program will be fully funded.
o Dozens of state and parish bridges will be repaired to prevent closure.
o Rural roads across the state that are not eligible for a federal match will be repaired.
o The Transportation Mobility Fund (TMF) will receive dollars to continue moving plans forward for public-private partnerships.
* Louisiana will spend $42.4 million to fund ALL projects in the Port Priority Program, including:
o Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District: $9.9m
o Greater Lafourche Port Commission: $8.8m
o Port of South Louisiana: $6m
o Terrebonne Port Commission: $6m
o Port of New Orleans: $5.4m
o St. Bernard Port, Harbor, and Terminal District: $2.5m
o Caddo/Bossier Port Commission: $1.7m
o Greater Ouachita Parish Port Commission: $1.3m
o Port of Iberia: $677k
* In addition, the state will fund the first phase of an expansion at the Port of New Orleans. With $24.6 million, New Orleans will begin to develop a twenty-acre complex at the Napoleon Container Terminal, expanding terminal capacity by 45 percent and enabling the port to secure the long-term commitment of one of the world's largest container carriers.
* The state will also support the Port of Terrebonne's improvement and expansion plans with $10 million that will provide the capacity to operate a shipyard facility, which will bring 1,000 new skilled jobs at an average annual salary of $54,000.
$220M will fund new roads and expansions of interstates and major state highways and bridges across the state. Among other projects:
o The I-12 corridor will be expanded to six lanes from Baton Rouge to Denham Springs as well as in the Slidell area.
o LA28 will be four-laned to complete the east-west corridor in central Louisiana.
o The I-49 South corridor along US90 in Lafayette will be expanded from four to six lanes from Pinhook to Broussard.
o Another segment of I-49 North near Shreveport will be completed from LA173 to LA169.
o Segments of the El Camino East-West Corridor in north Louisiana will be four-laned.
* In addition, $57 million will be allocated to the Cyber Innovation Center at Barksdale Air Force Base to improve access via Interstate 220 and make the site more attractive to Cyber Command—a project that will retain several thousand jobs, and attract several thousand more, and position northwest Louisiana as a center for high tech and professional jobs.

2. Hurricane Protection and Coastal Restoration: $300 Million (This is the largest financial commitment to hurricane protection and coastal restoration in the state's history.)

* With this allocation, Louisiana will fund projects in southeast and southwest Louisiana, making a critical contribution toward the state's match to federal dollars.

3. Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL): $60 Million

These funds are directed to the ever-growing $9.6 billion cost of retirement benefits for teachers and state workers. Louisiana will save $4.28 in interest for every dollar of this payment.

4. Deferred Maintenance for Higher Education: $75 Million

An independent state facility condition assessment identified $1.8b in deferred maintenance needs of higher education in Louisiana. The Division of Administration's Office of Facility Planning and Control is committed to working with the Board of Regents to prioritize these projects.

5. Pennington Biomedical Research Center: $50 Million

* This $50M capital investment, Pennington will:
o Complete a new clinical research building and renovate existing facilities
o Create a new imaging center
o Purchase high-tech research instrumentation and equipment
o Recruit star faculty members.
* Specifically, Pennington projects this $50m investment will yield over 1,100 new direct and indirect jobs; result in new earnings of over $40m annually; and have an economic impact of over $110m each year—not to mention securing hundreds of millions in new federal research grants and acting as a catalyst for new private-sector development.

Additional Initiatives Adopted In The Special Session:

SB11: Dedicates Transportation-related Taxes and Fees to Transportation Projects—With 95 co-authors.

* Accelerates the current phase-in for revenues from vehicle license fees for trucks and trailers. This will increase transportation revenues in FY09 by an additional $11 million and fully dedicate these fees altogether by FY10, a year ahead of schedule.
* For the first time, begin the phase-in of the dedication of vehicle sale taxes to transportation projects. This will provide an immediate infusion of an additional $30 million in transportation in FY09 and over $250 million per year within five years. With our increasing transportation project backlog, the current level of funding cannot solely by relied upon to solve our needs.

HB18: Protects Federal Tax Credits from State Taxes

About 1.9 million Louisiana residents will qualify for federal rebate checks under an economic stimulus package that was signed into law by the President last month. The Treasury Department estimates that state residents can expect checks totaling about $1.6 billion, with some being mailed as early as May.
* Under the program, individuals are eligible for up to $600, and couples can get as much as $1,200. People with at least $3,000 in earned income, or those with at least $3,000 from any combination of Social Security, Railroad Retirement funds, and Social Security disability or veterans' benefits, would get $300 per individual or $600 per couple.
* These funds are intended to stimulate consumer spending and investment, and Louisiana will do its share to maximize the value of the rebate by not treating the checks as taxable income.

HB45: Provides for the Federal City Project: Algiers Development District

* The Algiers Development District was created as a special taxing district comprised of all territory within the fifteenth ward of Orleans Parish by Act No. 242 of the 1992 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature.
* The original legislation required certain actions be taken with ten years of the creation date of the district. It is unclear that these actions were taken so the district may have lapsed. This will require corrective legislation.
* The project is estimated to retain 1,963 jobs and an additional phase 1 could possibly create new jobs of up to 1,400. Total direct jobs could reach over 6,000.

SB7: Provides for the Newspaper Publisher & Radio State Sales Tax Exclusion

* Last year's changes to state tax law (Act 339 of the 2007 Regular Session) included certain machinery and equipment used primarily to produce news publications within the state sales and use tax exclusion for manufacturing machinery and equipment (MM&E).
* Due to a drafting error, the Department of Revenue is currently unable to ensure that news publishers would be entitled to exclusion from the tax.
* Making necessary technical corrections in the special session would not yield an additional cost to the MM&E provisions since the fiscal note already accounts for the tax exclusion for machinery and equipment used to produce news publications.


Regular Session Accomplishments

"There are many overarching themes in our comprehensive plan to overhaul the workforce development system in Louisiana, but each one of these policy details and parts of our agenda have the same goal: to make Louisiana the best place in the nation to raise a family, get a high-paying job and pursue a rewarding career."

- Governor Bobby Jindal

Reforming Workforce Development, Training Skilled Workers

* Comprehensive Workforce Development Plan to realign and integrate workforce programs through a comprehensive approach, and strengthen and prioritize community and technical college programs, dramatically enhance rapid response capacity, cultivate alternative career pathways (e.g., career and technical education in public schools), and target efforts to increase workforce participation.
* Establishing the Louisiana Workforce Commission to integrate and oversee the entire workforce development system and a high-profile, state-level Workforce Investment Council to set workforce training priorities according to robust data analysis and input from business leaders.
* Establishing LCTCS Workforce Training Rapid Response Fund appropriates $10 million annually to establish a standing training fund for high-demand, high-cost training programs at LCTCS, as determined by market demand and economic and employment projections.
* Launching the Louisiana Fast Start Program, which includes $3 million to dramatically enhance Louisiana's business develop efforts by delivering comprehensive workforce training services, from pre-employment recruitment and assessment that help companies "select the best," to customized, job-specific training that delivers exactly the right skills a business needs.
* Launching the Business Retention and Expansion Program, which includes a $400,000 investment to cultivate Louisiana's existing businesses by aggressively pursuing business retention and expansion prospects.
* Greater Accountability for High Demand, High Cost Programs. The Louisiana Board of Regents will use a guiding criteria when determining funding levels for LCTCS in order to better account for real program costs and market demand.
Encouraging Businesses to Expand Existing Operations and promote capital investment through Enterprise Zone and Quality Jobs Rebates, which requires the Department of Revenue to rebate taxpayers 80 percent of the total claim within 10 days of a request, with the remaining 20 percent issued upon completion of an audit.

Returning Money To Taxpayers And Controlling The Cost Of Government

* Cutting Taxes. SB 87 cut taxes for the 6th time this year and enacted the largest single tax cut in Louisiana history. This bill will return $1.1 billion dollars over the next five years to Louisiana taxpayers.
* Eliminating State's Reliance on One-Time Revenue. For the first time in memory, the budget completely eliminated the state's long-held, unhealthy reliance on "one-time" revenue for recurring expenditures.
* Eliminating Vacant Government Positions. 984 vacant state government positions were eliminated at an estimated savings of $58 million.
* Hiring Freeze the Governor Implemented for six months has saved the state $39 million.
* Enforcing Strict Criteria for Use of Taxpayer Money. The Governor issued strict criteria for the use of state tax dollars toward new legislatively earmarked funding for Non-Governmental Organizations in order to safeguard transparency and accountability and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used for true state priorities.
* Reforming the State's Construction Plan by making the Capital Outlay process more transparent and requiring feasibility studies for projects to ensure state dollars are spent wisely.

Cracking Down on Crime

Increasing Funding for Crime Lab by $1.8 Million to purchase new equipment for the DNA Unit and the Physical Evidence Unit to promote more timely identification and detection of criminals and reduced time for prosecution.
* Allowing Firearms to be Kept in Vehicles: Allowing employees and customers to keep firearms in a locked motor vehicle in the public access parking lots of businesses.
* Require Lifetime Registration for all Sexual Offenders.
* Increase the area where sexual offenders are prohibited from 1,000 to 2,000 feet: public or private school property, school busses, daycare facilities, playgrounds, youth centers, public swimming pools, public parks and recreational facilities, and video arcades.
* Increase the Penalty for Unlawful Presence of a Sexual Offender from $1,000 to $2,000 and the sentence from one-year imprisonment to two years.
* Increase the Minimum Sentence For Computer-Aided Solicitation of a Minor from one year to a five-year minimum when the victim is 13 or older and increase to a ten-year minimum when the victim is 12 or younger.
* Increase the Minimum Sentence for Molestation of a Juvenile from one year to a five-year minimum when the victim is 13 or older and increase to a ten-year minimum when the victim is 12 or younger.
* Allow Internet Sites like Facebook and Myspace to Link Up with Louisiana's Sex Predator Database to ensure that offenders aren't setting up profiles to prey on children.
* Close a Loophole in Existing Law that would Allow an Offender to Utilize Electronic Communications to establish other forms of communications in order to persuade induce, entice a minor to engage or participate in sexual conduct.
* Increase the Time that Louisiana Authorities can Jail Suspects from 60 days to 120 days, if a judge authorizes the extension.
* Prohibit a Sex Offender from Wearing a Mask, Hood or Disguise During Holiday Events and from distributing candy or other gifts on Halloween to persons under eighteen years of age.
o Allow for the chemical castration of certain sex offenders on their first offense, and to require the chemical castration of certain sex offenders on their second offense.
o Consolidate our sex offender database so sheriffs, state police and local law enforcement officials can all share information on sex offenders easily online - to make sure no offender slips through the cracks.
o DHH led the effort to organize a new system of civil commitment for sex offenders to go into a secure facility after they finish their prison term for their crime. This will ensure that sex offenders are treated for their illness and are less likely to recommit their awful crimes again.

Strengthening Education For Louisiana's Children

* Raising Teacher Pay by more than $1,000.
* Expanding Access to a Quality Education, through $10 million in Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence.
* Investing $12.3 Million for the Literacy and Numeracy Initiative.
* Passing a Teachers Bill of Rights to communicate a teacher's rights in the classroom to students and parents.
* Prohibiting Teachers from Completing Duplicate, Burdensome Paperwork to decrease the amount of time a teacher spends on paperwork in the classroom.
* Investing $10 Million in Flexible Pay for Rural School Districts.
* Full Formula Funding for Every College and University with an investment of $37.4 million.
* Investing $10 Million for Workforce Training at Two-Year Institutions.
* Investing $4 Million Toward Dual Enrollment Programs.
* Investing $8 Million for Endowed Chairs and Professorships.
* Continuing Full Funding for TOPS and GO Grants - the state's need-based financial aid program.
* Allocating Formula Funding According to Performance, through a measure that requires at least 15 percent of formula funding be based on performance.
* Investing $90 Million in the Minimum Foundation Program - the formula that funds public elementary and secondary education.
* Providing Expanded Educational Opportunities by increasing the cap on charter schools in the state from 42 to 70, and giving BESE greater flexibility to renew charter schools for shorter lengths of time.

Trimming The Budget, Making Government More Efficient

* The Governor's total budget of $29.7 billion for the next fiscal year is $4.6 billion less than the existing operating budget of $34.3 billion - a 13 percent reduction. While this reduction does largely reflect a loss of federal dollars, losing those dollars also required using state money to cover some social and health care services.
* The Adminstration completely eliminated, for the first time in memory, the state's long-held, unhealthy reliance on "one-time" revenue for recurring expenditures. Eliminating the previous year's $800 million reliance on one-time money represents the largest year-to-year reduction of this kind in Louisiana's history.
* The $1 billion increase in the General Fund is largely the result of plugging that $800 million - mostly in health care expenses - back into the budget, and addressing important education goals through a $90 million automatic increase in MFP public school funding, $56 million more to keep teacher pay raises and $35 million to fund higher education at the southern average.
* This fiscally responsible approach laid the groundwork and made it possible to balance the budget, totally eliminate the unhealthy practice of using one-time money for recurring expenditures, AND provide taxpayers permanent relief.
* The Administration's budget also cut 984 vacant state government positions at an estimated savings of $58 million - and did so, for the first time, using departments' 5.5-year historical vacancy average to protect levels of service but also to make sure the cuts are lasting.
* The limited statewide government hiring freeze the Governor enacted after taking office achieved state General Fund savings of $39 million -- $14 million more than the $25 million target the Governor called for in his executive order. Also, two governmental offices were eliminated and five others were consolidated to make government less wasteful and more efficient.
In the regular session, the Governor issued strict criteria for use of state tax dollars toward new legislatively earmarked funding for Non-Governmental Organizations, to safeguard transparency, accountability, and to ensure that state taxpayer dollars are used for true state priorities. (The Governor's Criteria to legislators: 1. Projects must have statewide or substantial regional impact. 2. Be Presented and openly discussed during the legislative session. 3. Item must be a state agency priority. 4. Item must have the proper disclosure form published online prior to consideration for funding.)
In the budget, targeted investments were made toward the strategic and critical needs:
Along with teacher pay and higher education funding increases, provided $10 million for student scholarships; $10 million for teacher flexible pay; $11 million for literacy and numeracy initiative; $8.5 million for the Recovery School District extended day program; and $1.8 million through the MFP to create two new charter schools
In healthcare: $10 million more to expand LaCHIP; $13.8 more to address mental health crisis
For workforce development: Devoted $10 million for workforce training through LCTCS, $4.5 million for career technical education, and $3 million for Quickstart Training
For future economic development opportunities: Invested $40 million in the Rapid Response Fund and put aside $307 million in the Economic Development Mega-Fund
Invested additional $7.5 million toward juvenile justice reform and $6.5 million for a new 50-member state police manpower class
With the completion of all budget bills, a budget excess of $639 million was left in place - money that the Governor would like to become a surplus to be used to address the state's important long-standing liabilities.
In Capital Outlay, or the state's capital construction budget, the budget responded to the $1.465 billion backlog in Priority 5 non-cash obligations, with unprecedented restraint: including no new projects and no new Priority 5 funding.

Improving Health Care in Louisiana - Health Care Accomplishments

Louisiana Health Care Consumers Right to Know Act, SB 287, is the state's new health information transparency initiative. For the first time, SB 287 will give Louisiana consumers clear, reliable information about the cost, performance and quality of the health care providers they depend upon. When individuals are equipped with information about cost and quality measurements, they are able to make more informed decisions about where they seek their medical care.
The bill empowers consumers with access to health plan and health care provider specific cost, quality and outcome data as well as trends and patterns in health care. This transparency will lead to improved performance and reduced costs as consumers are able to make informed purchasing decisions based on sound information. This legislation includes $500,000 to begin collecting performance, financial and quality data from providers.
Mental Health Legislative Package: Governor Jindal proposed an ambitious and widely praised package of legislation to improve quality and access to mental health care in the state of Louisiana. Together, these bills strengthen the foundation of our statewide behavioral health system that will deliver true continuity of care serve as a model for other states. In addition to these pieces of legislation, Governor Jindal has made an $89 million commitment to supporting mental health care in Louisiana.
o Senate Bill 182 - Assistive Outpatient Treatment - Nicola's Law

This law will provide additional legal options to behavioral health experts and families to ensure mental health clients in crisis receive the services they need. It will help close gaps in care by creating a robust treatment plan for those in crisis that - in contrast to current law - will truly support stabilization and monitoring of people in crisis. Nicola's law allows select health officials to petition for an order of assistive outpatient treatment, requiring a patient to receive the help they need when they themselves will not do so voluntarily. Assistive outpatient placement allows mental health experts and the courts to compel a very small percentage of people with behavioral illnesses to comply with the treatment protocols they need to remain stable.

The law applies to people who have been noncompliant with treatment in the past and as a result have a violent history, who are likely to become violent, or whose condition results in repeated hospitalizations. Assistive outpatient treatment involves much more than medication monitoring. Patients will receive a comprehensive treatment plan that may include services such as case management, transportation, and educational and vocational training.

House Bill 930 - Expansion of Human Services Districts

This law expands and creates standards for Human Service Districts - regionally governed and operated behavioral health systems that deliver true continuity of care to citizens throughout the state. Human Service Districts will become the primary providers of behavioral health and developmental disability services on a region-by-region platform.

Each new human service district will be locally governed and managed with input from the community, creating responsive regional service providers tailored to meet the unique needs of the local population. This bill creates the necessary infrastructure to improve quality and deliver a true continuum of behavioral health care services. Specifically, this bill authorizes and creates guidelines for establishing Human Service Districts in regions of the state where they do not yet exist and establishes comprehensive readiness criteria that must be met before a Human Services District is made operational.

House Bill 653 - Mental Health Exams Using Telemedicine

Currently, when patients in Louisiana are considered dangerous to themselves or others and need to be involuntarily institutionalized, a mental health professional must complete an "actual exam" to assess the patient's needs. Unfortunately, in many underserved areas of Louisiana, there is a shortage of psychiatrists who can make this determination. The result is our current system, one in which citizens of Louisiana in mental health crisis must wait hours or sometimes days to receive the treatment they need.

Telemedicine uses video and audio technology to allow a doctor in one location to examine and recommend treatment to a patient in another location. This bill clarifies existing law to ensure that telemedicine is considered an "actual exam," allowing psychiatrists in different locations to issue the emergency certificates needed to commit individuals in crisis who may be a danger to themselves or others. This important piece of legislation will reduce wait times for those in crisis, ensuring they get the care they need as quickly as possible.

Senate Bill 228 - Crisis Receiving Centers allows for the creation of crisis receiving centers - specialized regional facilities, which can immediately assess and meet the needs of people experiencing a mental health crisis. The bill allows the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to create the necessary licensing standards for crisis receiving centers. These facilities are not hospitals, but are easily accessible community sites available to the public, law enforcement and other officials that provide a uniform, 24-hour single point of entry for citizens experiencing a behavioral health crisis, including those presenting with suicidal, homicidal and/or violent behavior.

SB 228 also establishes a Local Collaborative in each region of the state, which is responsible for designing a crisis network plan to meet the unique needs of that region and calls for the Department of Health and Hospitals to develop a plan for Crisis Receiving Centers to be included in local Crisis Response Systems. Crisis Receiving Centers will create a safe, reliable system of emergency care for those in mental health crisis.

House Bill 366 - Expanding Medicaid Coverage for Foster Children extends Medicaid health coverage until age 21 for children who have left the foster care system at 18. Young people leaving the foster care system at age 18 often face significant challenges as they begin their lives as adults. This legislation ensures that these young adults continue to have access to the health care services they need through Medicaid.

House Concurrent Resolution 155 calls on DHH to convene a task force that will research best practices and make implementation recommendations on a program for the civil commitment and mental health treatment of sexually violent predators and child sexual predators. This program will help protect Louisiana communities by providing secure, inpatient mental health treatment to those sexually violent criminals most likely to become repeat offenders.

Covering the Uninsured: Thanks to intensive outreach efforts and a firm commitment from Governor Jindal, more than 12,000 additional children have been enrolled in health insurance since he took office in January and the Department of Health and Hospitals has set the goal of covering 28,000 more children in LaCHIP or Medicaid in the next year. During ‘Cover the Uninsured Week' in May, DHH and its partners distributed more than 72,000 LaCHIP and Medicaid applications to more than to 2,300 locations in a 12 parish region.

Those efforts are paying off for Louisiana families. Just 10 years ago, 25 percent of Louisiana children were without health insurance. Today, only 5 percent are uninsured, and more children are being signed up each day. In June, DHH launched its LaCHIP expansion program, which provides health insurance to children from families making between 200 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The LaCHIP expansion is backed by a $10.2 million commitment from the Jindal administration to ensure as many children as possible have access to the health care services they need.

Financial commitment to improve health care in Louisiana: Governor Jindal has made a strong commitment to improving health care in Louisiana, including $3.6 million that will allow Medicaid to cover Multisystemic Therapy, a research supported and cost-effective treatment for youth with severe behavioral disorders; a $1.5 million increase for Early Steps, a program that provides support to families of children likely to have developmental delays; and $4.7 million for the development of provider service networks - an innovative, patient-centered health care delivery model that will provide medical homes for Medicaid patients in Louisiana.

Strengthening our Workforce - Workforce Commission (Formerly DOL) Accomplishments

The Legislature overwhelmingly approved a landmark package of legislation to reform workforce development in Louisiana to support and strengthen existing businesses and to make the state much more competitive in recruiting new businesses. The reform measures have the support of business and industry as well as labor.

Governor Jindal's comprehensive workforce development reform includes transforming the Louisiana Department of Labor into the Louisiana Workforce Commission to reflect an expanded mission that includes:

Integrating workforce development and training programs with support services, such as child care and housing assistance, into a coordinated statewide system to improve service to employers and job seekers.
Creating a Workforce Investment Council to partner with business and industry to improve job forecasting and establish priority workforce needs. This will enable a demand-driven system for developing Louisiana's workforce.
Aligning and strengthening the role of the community and technical colleges in workforce development, so that the job forecasts drive the colleges' program priorities and funding.
Expanding the workforce by engaging more of the Louisianans who are not fully participating in the workforce and by recruiting trained workers from other states to fill jobs that our existing workforce can't fill today.
Aligning the state's 18 Workforce Investment Boards with LED's eight economic development regions and enabling the WIBs' Business and Career Solution Centers to offer one-stop service of integrated programs to employers and job seekers.

Governor Jindal's workforce reform package also invested $4.6 million for the first year of workforce development reform, in addition to other significant investments:

$10 million to establish the workforce training rapid response fund to allow LCTCS to respond more effectively to urgent workforce opportunities and challenges, aimed primarily at meeting priority workforce needs.
$4.5 million to the Department of Education to expand career and technical education opportunities, such as dual enrollment, for our public school students.
$3 million for the Department of Economic Development's Fast Start Program, to produce turnkey workforce solutions for new business opportunities or expansions of existing Louisiana businesses.

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