Allain reports on first state session since his election
State legislators representing St. Mary Parish delivered reports on the just-ended legislative session at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday in Franklin.
Sen. Brett Allain, Dist. 21, said he is “so glad to be home…I’m getting used to the cold steel in my back, but the blood loss is starting to get to me,” he joked.
Allain noted that the local delegation was instrumental in convincing the United States Department of Agriculture to keep the St. Mary Farm Service Administration Office open.
He said he was able to pass a “common courtesy bill” which legislates that oil companies must give 30-day notice before they can cross or perform work on private property .
Allain introduced nine bills and managed to pass all but two, he said.
Education reforms were passed into law, including that school boards no longer hire and fire teachers, delegating that power to superintendents and principals.
The controversial voucher bill was “one of the most contentious bills they had, but at the end of the day I voted for it. In all honesty, the amount of slots that will be available is very little. At the most I think we’ll end up with 3,000 slots available for vouchers when the vetting process is all said and done, which is less than one half of one percent of the $3.4 billion education budget.”
Allain said legislation was also passed where oil companies who have damaged property can admit their liability. A hearing is then held before the Department of Natural Resources where a feasible cleanup plan is devised.
“We may have an oversight provision where those plans need to be reviewed by the secretaries of DNR and DEQ and the Secretary of Agriculture,” he said.
In budget debates, he said when the Senate received the budget from the House it was implied that the Commissioner of Administration would make intended cuts.
“We didn’t feel like that was fair, we wanted to know where the cuts were going,” Allain said. “So we asked each of the agencies to come in and tell us exactly what would happen with these cuts. (There were) $12 million cuts to Nicholls State University, $20 million to UL-Lafayette, Fletcher, Young Memorial all taking huge cuts.”
Healthcare cuts were also severe, Allain said, so “we put all of that back.”
Capital outlay dedications to St. Mary Parish include $150,000 for the industrial park on the Charenton Canal; $45,000 for sewer work in Berwick; $60,000 for the Wedell -Williams aviation museum in Patterson; a fire station in Baldwin at $1 million, and now in bid, as well as Brashear Avenue in Morgan City drainage improvements, Lake Palourde docks, Patterson Catherine Street drainage and Chez Hope in Franklin.
He said though the Atchfalaya Basin Foundation was not fully funded, some money was placed in the fund. “We were able to capture a million dollars to build more cabins at Lake End Park,” Allain said.